Poems in 3:AM Magazine

A couple of poems from Lost Republics, along with a new poem, have just been published at 3:AM Magazine. There's also a photo of the inside of a lift made out of a door from an old Aeroflot plane. It's all at the link.


A Glossary to Lost Republics

Looking through Lost Republics, it occurred to me that there might be some elements of the book, the Russian bits, that could do with a little explaining or at least a glossing over. As a book of poetry is certainly no place for explanations, these have been posted instead as a sort of glossary. More will be added shortly.

I - Passing the Telegraphs & Orekhovo.
II - Zagorsk & New Soviet Sky.
III - Fine Art & Main Street Bombs.
IV - Iodine & The Palace.
V - Mandelstam

There's also a brief note on the monument to the Conquerors of Space, a photo of which is on the cover of the book.


Glossary IV

Iodine (Page 41) - Tobolsk was one of the holding points for the Tsarist Romanov family en route to Ekaterinburg, following the revolution in Russia. Many Russians of Polish, Ukrainian and German ethnicity were sent to Siberia at the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War (WWII). Many were sent so as to remove them from Moscow and the front but also to employ their expertise in setting up industrial enterprises east of the Urals. Alexander Menn was a highly respected theologian in the (liberal) Russian Orthodox Church. He was murdered in 1990.

The Palace (Page 45) - The Palace Square, outside the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg is where, in January 1905, crowds of demonstrators were cut down by the Imperial Guard on what became known as "Bloody Sunday".

Next, Mandelstam


Glossary III

Fine Art (Page 20) - The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow houses one of the largest collections of art in Russia. It is, along with the Tretykov Gallery, one of the most popular art museums in Moscow. In Russia, men are still conscripted to do national service. At the moment it consists of two years service in the army (often border duty) or one year in the navy. The blackened remains of a violin refers to "The Burned-out Violin" by Fernandez Armand, on display in the Pushkin Museum.

Main Street Bombs (Page 25) - There's a story in the New York Times about suicide bombings in Moscow and Russia during 2003 that lists a number of attacks that took place that year. The following February, there was an attack on the Moscow metro which killed dozens of commuters and injured well over 100. In September 2004, there was another suicide bomb attack, this time on the Rizhskaya metro station off Prospekt Mira. Ten by-standers were killed, and many more injured, when the bomb was detonated near the station entrance. The station is located beside the busy Krystovskiy supermarket.

July 10th 2003 - The police arrest a Chechen woman after she tries to detonate a bomb outside a cafe on Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow's main shopping strips. An explosives expert dies trying to defuse the bomb. The footage of the FSB officer been thrown across the street was shown on television.

December 9th 2003 - A suicide bomber blew herself up outside the National Hotel in the centre of Moscow, killing 6 and seriously wounding 13 people. The attack took place within a few hundred metres of the Kremlin, Red Square and the Duma (Russian Parliament). The bomb exploded just before 11am on a cold, snowy morning.

Next, Iodine & The Palace


Glossary II

Zagorsk (page 18) - Zagorsk was the name given by the Soviet authorities to the town of Sergiev Posad. At the heart of the town is a monastery complex important to Orthodox believers. The town was renamed because of the strong religious connotations of its original moniker. In common with many places in post-Soviet Russia, however, it is often referred to by its Soviet name despite the original having been officially reinstated.

New Soviet Sky (page 19) - Following victory in the Second World War, as part of a bid to compete on an aesthetic level with the cities of the United States, a series of sky-scrapers were commissioned to be built in Moscow. They are generally referred to by English speaking expatriates as "the Seven Sisters". They are known to Moscovites, however, by the individual names or, collectively, as "vysotkyi" meaning tall, in this case, buildings. In 2001, construction started on a new sky-scraper, Triumph Palace in north-west Moscow. On the surface at least, it mimics to a great extent the style of the original seven "vysotkyi".

Next, Fine Art & Main Street Bombs


Glossary I

Passing the Telegraphs (Page 11) - This poem is about a train journey between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Peter is slang for St. Petersburg. Tver is a city along the way where the train stops and locals, usually pensioners, sell snacks or drinks on the platform. The Kavkaz refers to the Caucasus region; usually in Russia, the reference is taken to mean the North Caucasus region. This is the part of Russia bordering the former Soviet Republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. It's normal to assume this is also meant to include South Ossetia.

Orekhovo (Page 12) - Orekhovo-Borisovo is a large suburb in Moscow. It's located about 25 km from the city centre, on the way to Domodedovo Airport. In winter, most buildings in Moscow are heated by a municipal heating system; the temperature is normally kept at about 24 degrees celcius.

Next, Zagorsk & New Soviet Sky


The Monument to the Conquerors of Space

I received some copies of Lost Republics this week and I noticed that I neglected to tell the publisher, Salmon Poetry (who have done a wonderful job by the way), what the monument on the cover is actually called.

It's called the monument To The Conquerors of Space and it's located in the All-Russian Exhibition Centre (commonly referred to as VDNKh) in Moscow. The cover photo was taken by my brother, Brian Moore.

The base of the monument houses The State Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics which is well worth a look if you ever find yourself at the far end of Prospekt Mira.

It's an astonishing place, VDNKh, part theme park to a state that is no more, part souvenir market and part antiquated funfair. It's both slightly at odds with modern Moscow and a bizarre window on what makes Moscow what it is. The monument To the Conquerors of Space is one of the more memorable structures in the park; it, of course, commemorated one of the most important scientific achievements of the Soviet Union but also represents key aspirations of contemporary Russia. All over Moscow are reminders of things that have been done, monuments to past achievements, milestones and wars. The city is increasingly defined, however, by its new structures and decorations; by a desire to not fall behind, to not simply be sucked up into history.


Passing the Telegraph

Clouds open over the line
and fires burn somewhere across the flat topography.
We are crawling through the snow like an endless hunk of metal.
When we get there I will have nothing to tell you.
Only that along the way we were seated in carriage number five,
drew breath through the door that would not shut completely
and drank beers with a girl from Peter.

Trees continue across the plain.
It’s deep out there in the space between us.
A dog lay down on the platform at Tver
and maybe on kinder days was fed sausage by old ladies.
It’s harder now to look into peoples eyes
and reprimand them for having left
another living thing half dead and alone.

Bursts of daylight exhausted like neon explosions.
Night falls past the silent tapping of telegraph poles.
Having sold themselves across the Empire,
the women of the Kavkaz gather up their bags
and sit for a while beneath fluorescent lights.
Fires are burning somewhere on the flats;
we are waiting for the station to take us in.

(from Lost Republics, Salmon Poetry, 2008)