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A Discrete Amalgam: New York Poets from the Former Soviet Union

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The stem from which the word “amalgamation” derives - “amalgam,” a mercury alloy used in the manufacturing of mirrors or, as a poetic trope, a “mirror” proper - suggested the intriguing option of letting a select group of poets from the former Soviet Union, living and working in New York, speak for themselves. In this way, they themselves may become a “mirror” reflecting their own elusive commonality, if indeed there is any. While some of these New York poets had had opportunities to elaborate on their vision of poetry in interviews, reviews of other poets’ work, through their editorial work, or in other venues, much has remained exclusively online or in individual publications; certainly their opinions have never before been collected together. I decided to attempt to form an amalgam of poetics by creating a questionnaire and distributing it to the poets. The short essay sums up the sometimes surprising findings. The picture that emerged after collecting, reading, and organizing the responses is intriguing both in its heterogeneity and elusive commonality, reflecting perhaps the cultural moment at large, which is increasingly defined in cultural and literary criticism as “after Postmodernism.” The publication also includes “signature poems” supplied by poets that, in their opinion, reflect the essence of their individual work.

Affiliations: 1: Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, USA, Email:, URL:


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