Inna Kabysh

Since first encountering Inna Kabysh’s writing in the 1990s, KATHERINE E. YOUNG has been working to bring Kabysh’s artistry to English-language readers. Young’s translations of Kabysh’s poems have been published in the chapbooks Blue Birds and Red Horses (Toad Press, 2018) and Two Poems (Artist’s Proof Editions, 2014) and in numerous print and online journals. Her translations of poems by Inna Kabysh won third prize in the 2011 Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender Prize competition and were commended by the judges of the 2012 Brodsky-Spender Prize. In 2021 a full-length collection of Kabysh’s poetry in Young’s translation, Children’s World, was named a finalist for the Malinda A. Markham Translation Prize; in 2016, a full-length manuscript of Kabysh’s poems, Cat and Mouse, was named a finalist for the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation.

About Inna Kabysh

“There’s nothing ladylike about the poems of Inna Kabysh,” begins Igor Volgin’s Russian-language review of Kabysh’s Mama myla ramu (2013). Kabysh’s themes range from domestic life and women’s work to Russia’s brutal war in Chechnya to the everyday struggle of the poet to carve out time to write. Kabysh is fascinated by the mother-child connection, which she explores in settings ranging from hospital wards to orphanages for the souls of aborted children to life in a Russian cottage. Her poetic lineage in terms of both style and substance traces back to Anna Akhmatova in the 20th century and Mikhail Lermontov in the 19th. Her poems are timeless, yet utterly grounded in the here and now. Writes Volgin: “She speaks to the Motherland as an equal.”


Inna Kabysh (b. 1963) is the author of seven books of poetry, including: Lichnye trudnosti (1994), Detsky mir (1996), Mesto vstrechi (2000), Detstvo, otrochestvo, detstvo (2003), Nevesta bez mesta (2008), and Mama myla ramu (2013). In 1996 Kabysh was awarded the Pushkin Prize by the Alfred Toepfer Fund (Germany); she has also won the Anton Delwig Prize (2005), the “Moskovskiy schet” Prize (2014), and the “Deti Ra” and Anna Akhmatova prizes (2016). 

Blue Birds and Red Horses

Available from Toad Press: Blue Birds and Red Horses, a chapbook of Inna Kabysh’s poems translated by Katherine E. Young. The chapbook contains poems from Inna Kabysh’s acclaimed second full collection, Detsky mir (Children’s World), including “Cat and Mouse” and “Shine On, Shine On, My Star” (Trafika Europe) and “Children’s Resurrection Day” (South Florida Poetry Journal). Click here to see Pavel Golovkin’s film version of “Shine On, Shine On, My Star.” Blue Birds and Red Horses was named Washington Independent Review of Books’ “Best Translation” for December 2018 and a “Notable Book,” Russian Titles in English Translation, 2009-2019, by Punctured Lines.

These are not simply poems. They are the heart of Russia in verse.

— Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate, in Washington Independent Review of Books

Young’s translations of Kabysh cast the poet’s work in a naturalistic light. They feature a ragged right edge, with very long and very short lines appearing side by side, and direct language that suits the bold first-person voices found her. Kabysh’s poems, here, at least, are longer ones, and they tend to read as frantic observations, as if an awful discovery is being made in real time.

Karen Craig, Missouri Poet Laureate (read Karen Craigo’s full review in Better View of the Moon

Two Poems

Two Poems by Inna Kabysh, translated by Katherine E. Young, is a dual-language edition of Kabysh’s poetry for the iPad. The book includes text and audio versions of the poems in both Russian and English, as well as video interpretations of the poems. It was published in 2014 by Artist’s Proof Editions and is available on iTunes.

Click here to see a video poem from this project, “Yuri Gagarin Was a Great Russian Poet.”

Click here to see a video poem from this project, “This is life, the summer house.”

In 2015, Two Poems was added to the born-digital materials teaching collection of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.

Cover image of Two Poems (c)Александр СенниковAlexandr Sennikov. Image used with permission.


Individual Poems by Inna Kabysh

Katherine E. Young’s translations of poems by Inna Kabysh won third prize in the 2011 Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender Prize competition and were commended by the judges of the 2012 Brodsky-Spender Prize


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