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The tragedy of the Russian poet with Robert Chandler, Markus Lähteenmäki and Clementine Cecil


During the Soviet era, poetry became a dangerous, subversive activity; nevertheless, poets such as Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova continued to defy the censors. Robert Chandler is chief editor of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry, an anthology that traces Russian poetry from its Golden Age to the modern era, including work by several lesser known but important poets, such as Georgy Ivanov and Varlam Shalamov who also feature in our pavilion on Bloomsbury Square, 101st km: Further Everywhere (18th October - 10 November).

This anthology was one of the main sources for the english language translations for the poetry included in the pavilion, many of them translated by Robert Chandler.

This conversation between Robert, Markus and Pushkin House Director Clementine Cecil will explore the lives, fates and work of the poets included in the pavilion, including Anna Akhmatova, Joseph Brodsky, Vladislav Khodasevich, Georgy Ivanov, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam, Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Varlam Shalamov.  

Osip Mandelstam - Photograph made by the NKVD in 1938, after his arrest.

Osip Mandelstam - Photograph made by the NKVD in 1938, after his arrest.

Boris Pasternak digging a potato patch at his dacha in Peredelkino, near Moscow, in the summer of 1958. LIFE magazine..jpg

Boris Pasternak digging a potato patch at his dacha in Peredelkino, near Moscow, in the summer of 1958. LIFE magazine..jpg


Robert Chandler (b. 1953) is a British poet and literary translator. He is the editor of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida (Penguin) and the author of Alexander Pushkin (Pushkin Press). His translations include numerous works by Andrey Platonov, Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, and Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter. Chandler's co-translation of Platonov's Soul was chosen in 2004 as “best translation of the year from a Slavonic language” by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL). His translation of Hamid Ismailov’s The Railway won the AATSEEL prize for Best Translation into English in 2007, and received a special commendation from the judges of the 2007 Rossica Translation Prize. Chandler’s translations of Sappho and Guillaume Apollinaire are published in the Everyman’s Poetry series.



Pavilion curator, Markus Lähteenmäki, a historian of Russian art and architecture, has immersed himself in soviet poetry over the course of the year in preparation for installation and exhibition in Pushkin House.Markus Lähteenmäki is a fellow of the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zurich, where he pursues a PhD related to Russian avant-garde poetry and architecture. He received an MA from London’s Courtauld Institute in 2013 after first studying at the universities of Helsinki and Moscow. He worked as a curator for Drawing Matter Trust in the UK for two years in which role he co-curated critically acclaimed exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth Somerset and Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel. He has taught history at the Cass, London Metropolitan University, Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins in London and continues to work as a co-organiser of public and educational programmes at the New Academy in Helsinki, an editor-at-large for the Helsinki based publisher Garret Books and as an independent curator.

Clementine Cecil,  Director of Pushkin House.

Clementine Cecil, Director of Pushkin House.

This event accompanies our pavilion and exhibition 101st km: Further Everywhere by Alexander Brodsky, curated by Markus Lähteenmäki 18 October-10 November. 

The pavilion is supported by Vadim Levin, with technical and management support from Robin Partington & Partners and fabrication and construction support from Patera Engineering Ltd. In collaboration with The Bloomsbury Festival.

Please note that Pushkin House will hold the tickets of latecomers for twenty minutes following the event start time, after which unclaimed tickets will be released. 

If you are running late, please contact us in order to avoid this. 

This event is part of the Poetry on the Move Season, supported by The Case Foundation.