Elena Shvarts was the most outstanding Russian poet of her generation, as well as a prose writer of distinction. Born in St Petersburg in 1948, she studied at the Leningrad Institute of Film, Music and Theatre. The daughter of a theatre literary manager, she earned her living translating plays for Leningrad’s theatres. Her poems were published in samizdat and abroad from the late 60s, but her first Russian publication, Circle, did not appear until 1984. Since then she has published more than ten collections of poetry. A book of prose pieces, including short autobiographical fragments, The Visible Side of Life, was published in 2003. She was awarded the Andrei Bely Literary Prize in 1979, and the Triumph Prize in 2003, an independent award for lifetime’s achievement in the arts. Bloodaxe published two bilingual editions covering her earlier and later work, Paradise: Selected Poems (1993) and Birdsong on the Seabed (2008), both of which are Poetry Book Society Recommended Translations. She had just completed a book on the Italian poet D’Annunzio at the time of her death from cancer in 2010.
– from Inpress Books UK with permission