Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Black-and-white headshot of Matvei Yankelevich.



For the Desk Drawer: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde in Translation
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Important Note

Registration required. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community.  To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events.  Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. 

Please join the Harriman Institute for For the Desk Drawer: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde in Translation: A Reading by Matvei Yankelevich. Yankelevich, a poet, translator, and editor, will read from his translations of Daniil Kharms, Osip Mandelstam, and Alexander Vvedensky, among others, as well as some of his original verse. His translation of Mandelstam’s “Verses on the Unknown Soldier” was published in the March 7, 2022, issue of the New Yorker, together with his reading of the poem in English and in Russian.

This event is part of our Contemporary Culture series.

Matvei Yankelevich’s translations from Russian include Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook), as well as works by Elena Guro, Osip Mandelstam, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and several contemporary Russian-language poets. He has been awarded fellowships for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, and was a co-recipient of the 2014 National Translation Award for his co-translation (with Eugene Ostashevsky) of An Invitation for Me To Think by Alexander Vvedensky (NYRB). He is the author of several books of poetry, including Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square), Alpha Donut (United Artists) and Boris by the Sea (Octopus), and the chapbooks Dead Winter (Fonograf) and From a Winter Notebook (Alder & Frankia). His poems and translations have been published in The Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, Caesura, Circumference, Harpers, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Perfect VacuumPrelude, and other print and online journals. In the 1990s, he co-founded Ugly Duckling Presse where he edited and designed books, periodicals, and ephemera for more than twenty years and curated the Eastern European Poets Series. As of 2022, he is editor of World Poetry, a nonprofit publisher of poetry in translation. He has taught seminars on translation and book arts at Columbia University’s School of the Arts since 2009, and has been a faculty member at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa), Hunter College, Queens College, Colorado College, Long Island University, Wesleyan University, and the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. He has given readings and talks on publishing, translation, and poetry at numerous colleges, universities, and cultural institutions, and keynote speeches at several conferences. His reflections on translating Alexander Vvedensky can be found at Poetry Daily, and a suite of essays on small press history and politics were published on Harriet in 2020.