Colin Fleming writes on Graham Roberts, The Last Soviet Avant-Garde: Oberiu–Fact, Fiction, Metafiction (Cambridge) and Eugene Ostashevsky (ed.), OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (Northwestern):

“Art is a cupboard,” writer Daniil Kharms declared on behalf of the riotous aesthetes known as OBERIU in late 1920s Leningrad, understatement hardly being a hallmark of a group whose acronym stood for “The Association of Real Art.”

“Poems aren’t pies,” he announced, to blank stares, dubious sloganeering counting for something of an OBERIU virtue. “We aren’t herring!”

[OBERIU’s] members rarely published any verse or stories for adult market publications, and wrote instead for children’s magazines, a blind for some of the most experimental work in the Stalinist era.

My favorite OBERIU poet, as discovered in this article, is Alexander Vvedensky, some of whose poems will be published next year as An Invitation for Me to Think: Poems (Green Integer). I am interested in his Vallejian tones:

The pillow, who is also the father:

A little patience,
then maybe I’ll answer all your questions.
I’d like to hear you sing.
Then maybe I’ll grow loquacious.

I’m so exhausted.
Maybe art will give me a second wind.
Farewell, pedestal.
I wish to hear your voices set to music.

A table. On the table is a coffin. In the coffin is Sonya Ostrova. In Sonya Ostrova is a heart. In the heart is congealed blood. In the blood are red and white corpuscles. And, of course, ptomaine.

The worm crawls along behind us all,
he carries monotony with him,
I’m scared to be an uncertainty,
I regret that I am not fire.

There is more in this article, all of great interest.


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