Quick Study: Alexei Tsvetkov is an Russian émigré poet and prose writer.
The Tsvetkov File: Alexei Tsvetkov emigrated to the United States in 1975 after he was arrested because of his work with Moscow Time, an unofficial poetry group that produced a literary almanac on typewriters. Tsvetkov set poetry aside for 17 years beginning in the late 1980s to write prose, including a novel he describes as “a poem in prose.” His return to poetry during the noughties generated Names of Love, a collection that contributed to his winning the Andrei Bely Prize in 2007. Tsvetkov’s varied jobs and projects have included teaching at Dickinson College, working at Voice of America and Radio Liberty, and translating Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Psssst………: Tsvetkov said in a 2005 interview that he quickly felt at home in the U.S. when he first arrived. He went on to say that he believes the United States is the most cultured country in the world, in terms of high culture.
Tsvetkov’s Places: Born in Stanislav, (a.k.a. Ivano-Frankovsk), Ukraine, grew up in Zaporozhe, Ukraine. Has lived in Prague, Kazakhstan, Germany, and the United States, where he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
The Word on Tsvetkov: Writing for the journal Znamia about the Moscow Time group’s poetry collections, Mikhail Aizenberg says he read certain works, including some of Tsvetkov’s, “not without envy.” He continues, writing that Tsvetkov stood out anyway because he was older than his fellow poets and his poems were marked by a “mature mastery.”
On Writing: In a literary diary for OpenSpace.ru in 2011, Tsvetkov wrote, “I don’t quit smoking because I can’t write without smoking—not just poetry but everything else that earns my living. A stupid agitation comes over me and my thoughts scatter.”
Tsvetkov Recommends: When asked in a 2004 conversation/interview to name some writers he respects, Tsvetkov mentioned Don DeLillo, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth. Among Russian writers, he particularly respects Yuri Trifonov.
Photo credit: vodnik, creative commons, via Wikipedia