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Aygi's translator, Peter France, has worked both diligently and brilliantly over the years to render into English the boldness and vitality of the originals. 

—Michael Palmer

Peter France

Peter France was born in Northern Ireland of Welsh parents and has lived at various places in England, France, and Canada. He is now based in Edinburgh, where he was professor of French from 1980 to 2000. He has written many studies of French and Russian literature (including Poets of Modern Russia, 1982), and is the editor of the Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation and general editor of the five-volume Oxford History of Literary Translation in English. He has translated French and Russian prose texts as well as several volumes of Russian poetry—Blok and Pasternak (with Jon Stallworthy), Mayakovsky, and in particular Gennady Aygi, including Selected Poems 1954–1994 (Angel/NorthWestern), Child-and-Rose (New Directions), Field-Russia (New Directions), and most recently Winter Revels (Rumor Press). He is currently preparing a volume of translations of Baratynsky.


Time of Gratitude

Nonfiction by Gennady Aygi

translated by Peter France

Gennady Aygi’s longtime translator and friend Peter France has compiled this moving collection of tributes dedicated to some of the writers and artists who sustained this great Russian poet through the hardships of a dark age. Composed from the 1960s into the early 1990s, the pieces in Time of Gratitude intersperse poems with a verse-infused prose of Aygi’s own imagination—a quiet, intensely expressive, essayistic style that blends autobiography with literary criticism, social commentary, nature writing, and enlightening homage. Aygi addresses such literary masters as Pasternak, Mayakovsky, Celan, and Tranströmer. Time of Gratitude is reminiscent of Mandelstam’s elliptical musings in Journey to Armenia or Kafka’s intensely spiritual jottings in his notebooks. “These leaves of paper,” Aygi says, “are swept up by the whirlwind of festivity; everything whirls—from Earth to Heaven—and perhaps the Universe too begins to swirl.... Everything flows together in the rainbow colors and lights of the infinite world of Poetry.”


Available: December 22 2017


Poems of Osip Mandelstam

Poetry by Osip Mandelstam

translated by Peter France
with a contribution by Peter France

Peter France writes in his foreword: “I have always been conscious that Mandelstam was an outstanding figure, arguably the outstanding Russian poet of the twentieth century. This is a personal selection from the poetry — poems that for one reason or another I wanted to translate. I have tried to make it reasonably representative of different strands and periods in his work, with a certain stress on the brilliant and fragmentary Voronezh poems.”

The transparent one still sings to no avail,
still swallow, Antigone, beloved girl …



Field Russia

Poetry by Gennady Aygi

translated by Peter France

Lifelong Aygi translator and friend Peter France wrote in The Guardian: "Aygi wrote from a deep awareness of the losses and destructions of the 20th century." Field-Russia is a book of poems arranged shortly before Aygi’s death, which in his view occupied a central place in his work. The collection opens with an informal conversation about poetry, and is followed by a series of little lyric "books"—Field-Russia, Time of the Ravines, and Final Departure—that form a part of Aygi’s "life-book." Like Ahkmatova and Celan before him, Aygi has left us with these most necessary words to dwell in—a quiet, spiritual poetry in a time of uprootedness and despair.



Child-And-Rose

Poetry by Gennady Aygi

translated by Peter France

Child-And-Rose is a special collection of poems and prose chosen and arranged by Gennady Aygi and his translator, Peter France. Taking its central themes of childhood, sleep, and silence in relation to poetic creation, the book is divided into five sections: "Veronicas Book" (a cycle of poems about the first six months of his daughter’s life), "Sleep-And-Poetry," "Before and After the Book," "Silvia’s World," and "Poetry-As-Silence"––all written between 1972 and 2002. Gennady Aygi is widely regarded as one the world’s foremost contemporary poets; his work has been translated into some twenty languages. In the late 1950s, Aygi was urged by Boris Pasternak and Nazim Hikmet to switch from writing in his mother tongue, Chuvash, to Russian. It was not until the 1960s that he was first published in Eastern Europe, and not until the late 1980s that his poems were allowed to be openly published in the Soviet Union and Chuvashia, an autonomous republic in the middle Volga valley where he was born in 1934. Images of Aygi’s Chuvash homeland––fields, forests, oaks, snow, birches, ravines––mingle amidst a disrupted syntax, astonishing turns, gaps, and suspensions that all speak to a quiet stillness of being. In Child-And-Rose, a rare, extraordinary spiritual communion with the world is made possible through poetry.



Poems of Osip Mandelstam

Poetry by Osip Mandelstam

translated by Peter France
with a contribution by Peter France

Peter France writes in his foreword: “I have always been conscious that Mandelstam was an outstanding figure, arguably the outstanding Russian poet of the twentieth century. This is a personal selection from the poetry — poems that for one reason or another I wanted to translate. I have tried to make it reasonably representative of different strands and periods in his work, with a certain stress on the brilliant and fragmentary Voronezh poems.”

The transparent one still sings to no avail,
still swallow, Antigone, beloved girl …