Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is considered one of Russia’s foremost avant-garde writers. He was born in the remote village of Shaymurzino in the Chuvash republic and moved to Moscow in 1953 to study at the Literary Institute. After encouragement from Boris Pasternak, he stopped writing in his native Chuvash language and began to write in Russian, which he did from 1960 until his death. Though Aygi’s poetry was not published in the Soviet Union until the 1980s, during the latter part of his life his work became well known and widely translated. He was the Chuvash National Poet, and received many honors for his work. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize on multiple occasions. Sarah Valentine translated Into the Snow: Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi (Wave Books, 2011).
For Aygi, poetry was a “sacred act” aimed at recreating communion among people, and between people and the rest of creation…
–Peter France, The Times Literary Supplement
[His] metaphors are powerful in their simplicity: as Aygi describes a “clearing in the field,” we may first imagine a meadow, but it could be that he’s referring to a transformation in the political climate--moving us from a tangible location to an intangible concept.
–Amy Henry, HTMLGIANT
Aygi’s work reaches a wide strain of styles...there is a natural, seasonal decay that creates the structure of beauty and openness throughout the verse. Aygi’s enlightenment is through an investigation of the power of death and all resulting energies...[He is] a writer operating on so many levels it’s hard to find one quality to define his work yet at the same time it is difficult to address his weakness.
–Greg Bem, The Matterhorn Review
Animated by an elemental sense of life, mortality, and humanity, the Chuvash poet Gennady Aygi wrote poems that fused his experience of ethnic difference with an avant-garde aesthetic.
–The New Pages
Reviews of books by Gennady Aygi
Into the Snow
Poems translated by Sarah Valentine
- Four poems (in Longhouse)
- “Untitled” (on The Babel Blog)
- Three poems (in B O D Y)