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This review is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

THIN ICE Andrei Voznesensky, Nostalgia for the Present (Oxford) £3.50

Andrei Voznesensky delights in jestin. Antiworlds, the earlier selection in English of his work, was greeted with general acclaim when it appeared a decade ago. The poems, translated (with the aid of literal cribs) by well-known English poets, displayed a verve and irreverent outspokenness unusual in contemporary Russian poetry. Nostalgia for the Present collects recent work. Again the editors have farmed the poems out to a range of poets and, as translations, the products are as successful as before.

The poems themselves betray a heavy influence of modern American poetry. Many relate to Voznesensky's experiences in the United States. They revel in the superficial paraphernalia of consumer society-jeans and perfumes, films and pot. They work in the Beat heritage-a naive and sentimental faith in the value of poetry and art, a preoccupation with the surface of things. And many of the poems in the new collection are designed for public reading rather than the more reflective attention of silent reading from the printed page. A few peoms, though, are as good as the best in Antiworlds. 'Phone Booth', for instance, evokes a comic nightmare where a mystery caller hangs up as soon as the poet answers the phone, leaving him speaking to a void, and the meaning opens out, deftly, into a general picture of a world failing to communicate. On the whole, however, the second book is a disappointment.
Michael Cayley
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