The modern world is a crucible of risks and pressures. Katia Kapovich's new poetry collection, Cossacks and Bandits, addresses a coherent range of cultural, aesthetic, psychological, philosophical, social and political issues relevant to the complexities of modern life. How does one survive war, terror, loss, injustice, trauma, displacement, marginalization and other hurtful experiences without embracing cynicism or indifference? What resources of strength must we rely on in a society that is ideologically and economically fluid and at times cynical and indifferent, where mass culture, institutional religion and national belonging have only weak and doubtful remedies to offer? The book focuses on the personal histories of men and women who are survivors of sociopolitical and economic distress. To Kapovich such individuals are the true modern hero and heroine. They show that at the limits of experience, survival and dignity depend on creative thinking, on a leap of imagination, as in the Russian children's game of Cossacks and bandits. Set in the US, Eastern Europe and the Middle East - regions that the poet knows intimately, having spent a considerable part of her life in each - this volume is a poetic survival guide to cultural and geographical displacement, alienation and marginality. With feeling and mastery, with sadness and humor, Kapovich fuses a diverse polyphony of voices and themes into original, full-blooded, lyric American verse of great general and literary interest.
Katia Kapovich is a bilingual poet writing in English and Russian. She is the author of five collections of Russian verse and of a book of English language poetry, Gogol in Rome (Salt, 2004), shortlisted for the Jerwood Alderburgh Prize 2005 in England. Her English poems have also appeared in the London Review of Books, The New Republic, The Independent, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Antioch Review, Jacket, and numerous other periodicals. She received the 2001 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the US Library of Congress. In 2007 she will be Poet-in-Residence at Amherst College. Kapovich lives in Cambridge, MA, where she co-edits Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.