A well-chosen introduction to the artistic and spiritual forces that shaped a poet.


Warmth and passion infuse a collection of poetry and prose.

The national poet of Chuvashia, “a remote non-Russian republic nearly 500 miles to the east of Moscow,” Aygi (1934-2006) left the region to study at the Gorky Literary Institute and, encouraged by his mentor Boris Pasternak, began to write in Russian rather than his native Turkic. “Only writing in Russian will allow you to articulate fully everything that is happening within you,” Pasternak told him. That decision changed the course of Aygi’s career, making him accessible to a vastly larger—and international—readership. France, Aygi’s longtime translator and friend, has collected 23 brief memoirs, interviews, poems, and sketches to reveal the poet’s aesthetic inspirations and affinities. A helpful introduction contextualizes the pieces and identifies poets—e.g., Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksey Kruchonykh—likely to be unfamiliar to most readers. The volume opens with an homage to Pasternak, written after the writer’s death and more than three decades after his meeting with Aygi. The younger poet was awestruck by a man he worshipped as “the older Friend, the Teacher, the unparalleled Interlocutor.” They discussed creativity, craft, literature, and the nature of existence. Pasternak, Aygi said, was capable of being enchanted “by all kinds of things and at any moment: a falling leaf, a child he met when out walking.” The miracle of creation, he told Aygi, surrounds us: “When you read a text, you are communicating not with letters but with the spirit of the author.” Just as the writer Vladimir Mayakovsky had led him to Pasternak, through Pasternak, Aygi discovered Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Kafka (a name “sacred to me”), and Max Jacob. Aygi pays homage to several of these writers and others, including the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer and French poet René Char. Among avant-garde artists whose work Aygi knew well, Kazimir Malevich receives great adoration.

A well-chosen introduction to the artistic and spiritual forces that shaped a poet.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8112-2719-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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