Vera Pavlova Poetry

Poetry • 5 x 8 • 128 pages $25.00 (Can. $29.95) • ISBN/EAN: 978-0-307-27225-6

translated by Steven Seymour, is expected to be published by Knopf in 2010.

“I broke your heart. / Now barefoot I tread / on shards.”
Such is the elegant simplicity—a whole poem in ten words, vibrating with image and emotion—of the very popular Russian poet Vera Pavlova. The one hundred poems in this book all have the same salty immediacy, as if spoken by a woman who feels that, as the title poem concludes, “If there was nothing to regret / there was nothing to desire.” Pavlova writes about love (both sexual love and the love that reaches beyond sex); about motherhood; about the memories of childhood that continue to feed us; about our lives as passionate souls abroad in the world. Sensitively translated by her husband, Steven Seymour, Pavlova’s poems are highly disciplined miniatures, exhorting us without hesitation: “Enough painkilling, heal./ Enough cajoling, command.”

It is a great pleasure to discover a new Russian poet—one who storms our hearts with pure talent and a seemingly effortless gift for shaping poems.


I am in love, hence free to live
by heart, to improvise caresses.
A soul is light when full,
heavy when vacuous.
My soul is light. She is not afraid
to dance the agony alone,
for I was born wearing your shirt,
will come from the dead with that shirt on.

Vera Pavlova was born in Moscow. She is the author of twelve collections of poetry, and her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She is the recipient of numerous awards, and is one of the best selling poets in Russia, where her Collected Poems is currently being prepared for publication.

Steven Seymour is a professional interpreter and translator of Russian and Polish. He has translated W. H. Auden, Charles Simic, James Tate, and Billy Collins into Russian; Zbigniew Herbert, Adam Zagajewski, and Wislawa Szymborska from the Polish; and his English translations of Vera Pavlova’s poems have appeared in Tin House and The New Yorker.