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). 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 Translation.


39294420_10156628032702495_364193169203527680_nBlue Birds and Red Horses

Now available from Toad Press: Blue Birds and Red Horses, a new 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, Washington Independent Review of Books


Missouri Poet Laureate Karen Craigo writes:

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, a longer ones, and they tend to read as frantic observations, as if an awful discovery is being made in real time.

(Read Karen Craigo’s full review in Better View of the Moon.)


Inna-Kabysh-Two-Poems-Title-page-800x1045Two Poems

Two Poems by Inna Kabysh translated by 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 to see a video poem from this project, “Yuri Gagarin Was a Great Russian Poet.”

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.

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 Сенников, Alexandr Sennikov. Image used with permission.

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