Two Poems by Inna Kabysh

“There’s nothing ladylike about the poems of Inna Kabysh,” begins Igor Volgin’s Russian-language review of Kabysh’s latest book, Mama myla ramu. 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 six books of poetry: Lichnye trudnosti (1994), Detskiy 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) and the Anna Akhmatova Prize (2016). Since first encountering Kabysh’s writing in the 1990s, KATHERINE E. YOUNG has been working to bring Kabysh’s artistry to English-language readers; Kabysh’s poems have been published in Young’s translations in numerous print journals and online. In 2016 a full-length manuscript of Kabysh’s poems in Young’s translation, Cat and Mouse, was named a finalist for the Cliff Becker Book Prize in TranslationTwo Poems by Inna Kabysh and Katherine E. Young, a dual-language edition of Kabysh’s poetry for the iPad that includes text and audio versions of the poems in both Russian and English, as well as video interpretations of the poems, was published in 2014 by Artist’s Proof Editions and is available on iTunes.


Click here for a sample video poem from the project, “Yuri Gagarin Was a Great Russian Poet.”

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

More information about this project is available in Katherine E. Young’s article “Unstapling the Poem from the Page: Translating Inna Kabysh for the iPad” in Translation Review.



Cover image of Poems by Inna Kabysh  (c)Александр Сенников, Alexandr Sennikov. Image used with permission.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: