My latest book is titled, My Talisman: The Poetry & Life of Alexander Pushkin (English and Russian Edition). It is a bilingual edition , translated Russian and English, illustrated with Puskin’s own drawings.
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is universally revered by Russians as their most beloved and greatest literary genius. In critic Apollon Grigoriev’s famous phrase, “Pushkin is our all”. He is the very lodestar of the Russian culture and the creator of the Russian literary language. Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and Nabokov, (the Russian literary geniuses best known in the West) all revered Pushkin and acknowledged themselves Pushkin’s heirs and literary debtors. To Gogol, “Pushkin is an extraordinary phenomenon, perhaps the only true expression of the essential Russian spirit”; to Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was “the height of artistic perfection.” Tolstoy praised Chekhov by calling him “Pushkin in prose.”
What inspired you to write this book?
Until now there really was no adequate verse translation that captured the magic of the poetry of Alexander Pushkin, the “poet of the Russian soul”. Being a poet completely fluent in Russian, I thought I should do something to share the joy of Pushkin’s poetry with the English-speaking world.
How did you publish this book?
I decided to create my own publishing company called Green Lamp Press and self publish this book.
Tell us something about yourself.
Reverence for Russian Literature runs deep in my family. My great-grandfater, Raphael Lowenfeld, St. Petersburg correspondent for the newspaper Berliner Tagesblatt, was the first translator of Leo Tolstoy’s works into German, and the author and editor of Conversations with and about Tolstoy, a literary interview/biography of the novelist. He also founded Berlin’s celebrated Schiller Theater.
I began studying Russian literature at Harvard University. I wrote my honors thesis on Andrey Bely’s masterpiece, Petersburg, under the direction of Professor Donald Fanger, and then studied Russian literature at Leningrad State University and continue my studies today with noticed Puskin scholar Nadyezhda Braginskaya. I graduated of New York University School of Law, and I am a trial lawyer in New York City, specializing in Federal cases and the defense of intellectual property.
Other recent works include a full-length musical play, Thanksgiving, a lyrical-dramatic exploration of first love, conflicted family relationships and coming and age, and Nonetheless, a book of love poems, meditations and translations. The world premiere in English of Puskin’s Little Tragedies in my verse translated was staged in November 2009 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
As I mentioned writing has been a part of my history…so I guess it has always been a part of me.
I began writing when I was at Harvard, studying Russian Literature.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Other books I’ve finished and am currently editing include (1) my translation of Alexander Pushkin’s Little Tragedies (world premiered at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York last November), four plays in verse by the national bard of Russia and (2) “Nonetheless”, a book of love and metaphysical poetry and translations mingling my original verse and prose poems and meditations, as well as translated verse of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Blok, Mandelshtam, Tsvetayeva, Akhmatova, Yesenin, Mayakovsky, Rilke, Goethe, Heine, Machado, Martí, Pessoa, Leopardi, Ungharetti, Dante, Catullus, Ovid, and Horace.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write about what you love and what you know.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers about you and/or your book?
Well, I did receive a unique award for ‘My Talisman’ called the Petropol Prize.
The Petropol Prize was established in 1999 by the Russian State Pushkin Museum in St. Petersburg and the editors of the prestigious literary journal Petropol. It is awarded annually “for outstanding achievement in the advancement of Russian culture and arts in projects of originality and major cultural significance.” The symbol of the prize is a bronze sculpture of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
This year I will be the first American to receive this award,( usually only given to a Russian).for my book My Talisman, the Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin.
I have been honored by receiving acclaim by leading authorities in both Russia and the United States, including such major scholars as V.E. Bagno, director of the Pushkin House in the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg; E.A. Bogatyrev, Director of the of the State Museum of Alexander Pushkin in Moscow; Pushkin Prize winner Professor V.S. Nepomnyashchiy; Academician S.A Fomichev; as well as professors of Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, Pennsylvania State, Georgetown, and Lehigh Universities.
The book is available at Amazon.com.