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Maria Stepanova

Holy Winter

Holy Winter

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A profoundly moving book-length poem from “Russia’s greatest living poet” (Poetry) and the acclaimed author of In Memory of Memory.

Maria Stepanova was a highly influential figure in Moscow’s cosmopolitan literary scene for many years until Putin strangled it, along with civil liberties and dissent. Written in a frenzy of poetic inspiration, Holy Winter speaks of winter and war, banishment and exile, social isolation and existential abandonment. Here, she masterfully interweaves confusing signals from the media and social networks, love letters, travelogues, and fairy tales, creating a polyphonic evocation of frozen time and its slow thawing.

Like Joseph Brodsky before her, Stepanova has mastered modern poetry’s rich repertoire of forms, moving effortlessly between the traditions of Russian, European, and transatlantic literature. With echoes of Ovid, Pushkin and Lermontov, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva, and kindred poets like Sylvia Plath, Inger Christensen, and Anne Carson, Stepanova’s is a potent and vital voice like no other.

With an afterword by the author.

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MARIA STEPANOVA, born in Moscow in 1972, is one of the most powerful and distinctive voices of Russia's first post-Soviet literary generation. She is an award-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and journalist. Stepanova’s works have been translated into many languages and published widely. She has received several literary awards, including the prestigious Andrey Bely Prize and Joseph Brodsky Fellowship. Her novel, In Memory of Memory, was a finalist for the 2021 International Booker Prize and has been translated into many languages. Stepanova founded and was editor-in-chief of the online independent crowd-sourced journal, which engaged with contemporary Russia's cultural, social, and political reality until the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine when all dissenting media in Russia were forced to shut down. As a prominent critic of Putin's regime, Stepanova had to leave Russia and is now living in exile in Berlin.

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