Russian poet Kirill Medvedev spent nearly a week in Carlisle in October 2011 as part of the X annual Semana Poética (Poetry Week) festival. While on campus he visited a number of classes, met with students and faculty for conversations and meals, and read a selection of his poetry at the Biblio Café.
“I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet Kirill Medvedev and discuss his poetry and political interests with him. Hearing him read his own poetry as he intended for it to be read was especially interesting and made me view his unique writing style in a new light. I even intend on incorporating several points that he made about the way in which he goes about writing his poetry into my own writing.” –Ryder Dial ‘15
Kirill Medvedev is a poet, translator, critic, publisher, and political activist currently living in Moscow. Born in 1975, his first book of poems, Vse Plokho (Everything Is Bad), appeared in 2000, followed by another, Vtorzhenie (Incursion). The form of the poems, free verse, and their subject matter, everyday life, were less reminiscent of formal or even avant-garde Russian poetry than of Charles Bukowski, whom Medvedev had translated. Medvedev’s poems immediately polarized the Russian poetry world. In 2003, he announced that, given the conditions of the Putin regime he would no longer participate in literary life—he would neither publish nor give readings nor participate in round tables. More recently he joined the nascent socialist movement Forward (Vpered) and founded the Free Marxist Press. In his writings he has questioned the orthodoxy of the previous generation of Russian thinkers. Medvedev is at the forefront of a new generation of Russians who are beginning, very gingerly, warily, and humbly, to apply the European left’s critique of postwar capitalism to their native situation.
In addition to reading a selection of his poems in Russian at the Biblio café (below), Kirill discussed poetry, politics, and music with students and faculty over meals, walking around campus, and in classes.
I had a really great time meeting with Kirill because his politics align a lot with my own and I found discussions with him great because they seemed to be not the superfluous ideological talks of youth but ones with someone who uses their radical theory to make a living and change the world. I loved his poetry and wished I had taken Russian just for that moment to understand it! – Molly Mullane, ‘15
Kirill Medvedev’s poems are bold and daring. During his poetry reading, his poems came to life as he read them with vigor. Although at first his diction may be a bit strong for the average American, the underlying themes of his poetry demand this style of presentation. –Andrei Vernon ‘12