Nonfiction. In August 1989, a new, independent organization of young Soviet writers hosted the first international conference for avant-garde writers to be held in the USSR since the Russian Revolution. "Summer School--Language, Poetry, Consciousness" was a grassroots attempt to harvest the fruits of glasnost, bringing together poets and scholars from Siberia to San Diego. Attending were four American writers, Michael Davidson, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten. Leningrad is their collaborative account of this extraordinary trip. A collection of poetic essays, it is a commentary on the intellectual revelations that result when post-glasnot Soviet and American intellectuals meet face to face. Some misunderstandings that arise are funny: one Russian asks the Americans if the Manson family is a TV show; some are surprising: when asked if she would like feminist literature from the states, a Russian woman requests the complete poems of Jim Morrison. While each group found inspiration in the other's avant-garde tradition, they had different definitions of what avant-garde was. American writers were testing their ideals of Western Marxism; the Marxists they had admired idealized American bourgeois democracy. Intellectually challenging, this collection is an unusual twist on the meeting of minds from across oceans.
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airport Aleksei Adashevsky American apartment Arkadii Dragomoshchenko artists asked Barrett Watten basement blue Bronze Horseman building colors communal flat Composers Union conference consciousness context crowded cultural Dmitrii dream Dziubenko E H H Emmanuel Hocquard feminism Finland Station formalists Gertsena glass hard currency Ilya Kutik imagine intellectuals Ivan Zhdanov Ivanov Katya language later Lenin Leningrad light linguistic literary look luggage Lydia Ginzburg Lyn Hejinian Malyavin Marxism Mayakovsky meaning Michael Davidson modern monument Moscow Moscow poet Neva Nevsky Prospekt night object Opposite Ostap Parshchikov perestroika person poems Poetic Function poetry postmodern Prigov Pushkin remont Ron Silliman ruble Russian samizdat scene seemed sense Shklovsky Shklovsky's simply social space Soviet Union speak Spivak's Stalin Stalinist stand street talk theater things toast translation understand unofficial walked wall West woman women writing Zhdanov Zina