Global Blake
Global Blake: In Conversation with Vera Serdechnaia – Reflection
Vera Serdechnaya reflects on her work translating the poetry of Andrey Tavrov. Originally presented as part of the Global Blake: In Conversation series.

Ever since I have read Andrey Tavrov’s collection Lament for Blake, I wanted to translate some of his poems into English. The reason is twofold: one, Tavrov’s unique voice in a dialogue with Blake’s and two, Tavrov’s complex metaphorical way of understanding Blake’s works.

So far I have translated fourteen poems which I want to present in a collection and for an English-speaking audience. The most difficult problem that I encountered was the transfer of the rhythm and the syntactic structure so that the metaphorical component of the text was not lost.

After the conference in January 2022, the idea arose to meet online at an event dedicated to Tavrov and my translations. I am grateful to Jason Whittaker and Sibylle Erle for this initiative and organization of the event in support of intercontinental connections in Blake studies. The event turned out to be important for me, because I saw that my translations of Tavrov’s poems, my researching and describing traces of Blake in Russian poetry, is of interest to foreign colleagues. Thank you to the organizers for planning, adequate responses to unexpected situations, their humour, patience and support.

The meeting itself turned out to be calm and thoughtful: I talked about Tavrov as a poet, about his importance in Russian poetry, and read several of my translations, as well as Tavrov’s statements regarding Blake. It is very important to me to see literature as a universal and transboundary phenomenon: Blake writes in English, then Tavrov reads Blake and writes about him, inscribing him into his world of Russian vers libre, and then it is very interesting to present this view to English-speaking readers, continuing this multicultural spiral of interpretations and layering.

I also thank colleagues from all over the world for participating in the event and for asking questions. It was important for me to hear questions about the levels of Tavrov’s dialogue with Blake, about reading Blake in Russia today, the problems existed with reading him in the Soviet past, and specific questions about translations.

In general, the meeting was for me not only an indication that my translations may be of interest to English readers, but also a very supportive event, proving the unity of Blake studies around the world, – which is a very, very important and supporting idea these days.

Vera Serdechnaia

June 2022