A new collection of the accessible and evocative "micro-verse" from one of Russia's most beloved poets.
Vera Pavlova's If There Is Something to Desire delighted the poetry world a few years ago. Her poems, rarely longer than a few lines, thrill and puzzle us like Zen koans, considering matters philosophical, romantic, sexual, familial, artistic. Album for the Young (and Old), whose title poem takes its name and inspiration from Tchaikovsky’s music, carries us through a life in miniatures, drawing from a wide-ranging group of poems translated by the poet’s late husband, Steven Seymour. Here Pavlova returns to her childhood to peruse its key ingredients (“a glass jar, a rag, a sponge . . . Mom’s listening to the Beatles, / Dad, to Radio Liberty”), confronts adulthood (“And, please, no forbidden fruits!”), balances her loves and losses (“Without you, my unquenchable . . . woes are bearable, / joys are not”). Once again, this poet’s piquant short poems sum up worlds and take on heavyweight challenges, yet are light enough to carry with us.