Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union

Michael Davidson, Author, Barrett Watten, With, Ron Silliman, With Mercury House $9.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-56279-005-9
The impetus for this collective work comes from the attendance of ``language'' poets Davidson ( The San Francisco Renaissance ), Hejinian ( My Life ), Silliman ( Ketjak ) and Watten ( Conduit ) at a 1989 Leningrad conference on ``Language-Consciousness-Society.'' Silliman's introduction claims that they're in the vanguard of those recording the ``opening'' of the Soviet Union to the West, but in fact these contributors seem to be at least as interested in themselves as in their surroundings. The quartet's contributions are intermingled and nonchronological; the authors explain, ``It should be somewhat unclear . . . just who is speaking.'' Severalpk passages record reactions to events: dismay at the racism displayed by some Russians, smug superiority to an American tour group in a museum. Others explore questions of personal interest, for example, ``Does poetry have any knowledge, and if so, what?'' When Russians do appear, they charm with their unpretentious directness, like the woman who, when offered some feminist literature from the U.S., replies, ``I'd really like . . . the collected poems of Jim Morrison.'' Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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