If There is Something to Desire: One Hundred Poems

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 10, 2012 - Poetry - 128 pages
I broke your heart. / Now barefoot I tread / on shards.

Such is the elegant simplicity—a whole poem in ten words, vibrating with image and emotion—of the best-selling Russian poet Vera Pavlova. The one hundred poems in this book, her first full-length volume in English, all have the same salty immediacy, as if spoken by a woman who feels that, as the title poem concludes, “If there was nothing to regret, / there was nothing to desire.”

Pavlova’s economy and directness make her delightfully accessible to us in all of the widely ranging topics she covers here: love, both sexual and the love that reaches beyond sex; motherhood; the memories of childhood that continue to feed us; our lives as passionate souls abroad in the world and the fullness of experience that entails. Expertly translated by her husband, Steven Seymour, Pavlova’s poems are highly disciplined miniatures, exhorting us without hesitation: “Enough painkilling, heal. / Enough cajoling, command.”

It is a great pleasure to discover a new Russian poet—one who storms our hearts with pure talent and a seemingly effortless gift for shaping poems.
 

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User Review  - mjanecolette - LibraryThing

This is the book and the poet that made me rediscover poetry. Pavlova's poems speak to my heart in such an intimate way, I shudder... I miss her when I don't read her for a while... and for the first time in my life, I wish I knew Russian so that I could read her in the original. Read full review

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User Review  - Anietzerck - LibraryThing

The truth is, poetry has always been something I find hard to get interested in. I rarely hate or love any that I read. This is the reason for rating down the middle with a 3. Its different when you ... Read full review

Contents

Let us touch each other
13
Do you know what you lacked
17
Whose face and body would I like to have
18
Why is the word yes so brief
19
Sing me The Song of Songs
20
A girl sleeps as if
21
One Touch in Seven Octaves
22
The first kiss in the morning
25
The serenade of a car siren
62
Writing down verses I got
63
Teeth dull veins collapsed
64
Batheme birth me from foam
65
You are my dear
66
A tentative bio
67
I walk the tightrope
68
Old age will come will arrange books
69

Enough painkilling heal
26
Mom was an axiom
27
Why do I recite my poems by heart
28
I was four
29
Those who are asleep in the earth
30
neither dead nor alive
31
He gave me life as a gift
32
The two are in love and happy
33
Sprawling
34
do not fall asleep
35
The hush of the combat zone
36
Lay down
37
Sex the sign language of the deaf and mute
44
When the very last grief
50
A Draft of a Marriage Contract
55
A weight on my back
56
Armpits smell of linden blossom
57
Man to woman is homeland
58
Memory keeps nothing unnecessary
59
Envy not singers and mimes
60
the parrot and its mirror
61
A Remedy for Insomnia
70
Eyes of mine
71
A cake of soap a length of rope 59 60 61
72
The sleeping are no mates for the crying
73
If you want we can part with a smile
74
7o
75
writing a rough draft
77
We lay down and the pain let
78
A caress over the threshold
79
Am I lovely? Of course
80
Where are we? On the skys
81
Basked in the sun
82
The matted lashes sprinkled
83
Snapshots from Memory
84
I think it will be winter when he comes
87
He pissed on a firefly
88
my back to the world
89
word
90
Against the current of blood
91
My craft is not stringing lyres
92
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About the author (2012)

Vera Pavlova was born in Moscow. She is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, four opera librettos, and numerous essays on musicology. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages. She is the recipient of several awards and is one of the best-selling poets in Russia.Steven Seymour is a professional interpreter and translator of Russian, Polish, and French. His English translations of Vera Pavlova’s poems have appeared in Tin House and The New Yorker.

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