Saturday, October 17, 2020
Anna Akhmatova lived through the devastating upheavals of the twentieth century in Russia, including the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and the terrifying purges and persecutions of Josef Stalin. By the time she died in 1966, she had written close to a thousand poems—at first deeply personal and passionate, later bearing witness to the suffering of her people. Despite her own losses and anguish, she refused to leave the Soviet Union. In 1990, the tiny Boston-based Zephyr Press published The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer and edited and introduced by Roberta Reeder—the first complete collection ever undertaken in either Russian or English. Hemschemeyer had spent thirteen years translating the poems; Zephyr spent seven more preparing the edition for publication. Named one of the “Best Books of 1990” by the New York Times, it was reviewed in some seventy-five publications worldwide. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first edition, Hemschemeyer has selected poems to be read by former Zephyr editor Susan Gubernat (who first brought the manuscript to the press), and Zephyr co-directors Jim Kates and Leora Zeitlin will lead a discussion on Akhmatova’s work and the making of this definitive edition. Sponsored by Zephyr Press.