Quick Study: Eugene Ostashevsky is a Leningrad-born poet, humanities professor, and translator who lives in New York and writes in English.
The Ostashevsky File: Eugene Ostashevsky is a Russian-American poet and translator based in New York. Ostashevsky’s poetry collections include The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza and Iterature, and he served as editor and primary translator of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, which contains works by such writers as Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky. Ostashevsky, who has won several prizes and fellowships for his scholarship, translation, and poetry, teaches humanities in New York University’s Global Liberal Studies program.
Psssst………: In his teaching statement for NYU, Ostashevsky says, “Poet and cultural arbiter Ezra Pound once defined literature as ‘news that stays new.’ My teaching hews closely to Pound’s proclamation. I ask students to project themselves into classic texts, pictures, and films, in order to see these worlds from the points of view of their characters, including the author; and thus to understand the characters’ choices in the light of the options available to them.”
Ostashevsky’s Places: Leningrad, Russian: born. New York: lives there since 1979, teaches at New York University.
The Word on Ostashevsky: Writing on Bookslut.com, Elizabeth Bachner calls The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza “a loveable little book.” She writes that, “The poems in this little volume are filled with groaner puns (“The Origins of the Specious”), absurdist rap, and other laugh-out-loud humor, and sometimes the flirt with the profound.”
Ostashevsky on Ostashevsky: In an interview with 3:AM Magazine, Ostashevsky speaks about emigrating in 1979, saying, “We came from Leningrad, in the big Jewish exodus that preceded the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I was a teenager in New York, in high school when Run-DMC came out with ‘King of Rock’ and the Beastie Boys with ‘She’s On It.’ That was very exciting. They could rhyme.”
On Writing: In that same interview with 3:AM Magazine, Ostashevsky said, “I grew up in a poetry culture that was all about classical prosody. I mean, I grew up on it in the States. On Joseph Brodsky island. We had a Pushkin tree, a Mandelstam tree, and a Tsvetaeva bush. To jump from that into American poetry, no meter, no rhyme, just print, print, silence—that’s the real culture shock.”
Ostashevsky Recommends: Alexander Vvedensky, whom he’s translated, “For me his work is phenomenal, the closest poetry comes to being poetry.” He also praises Nikolai Zabolotsky’s pre-1934 poetry.