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Опубликовано: Wednesday, August 27, 2008.
November 12, 1987
Reading by a Soviet Poet, Already a Star at Age 12
By ELEANOR BLAU
LEAD: When Nika Turbina was 4 years old, looking out into the night from her home in Yalta, she astonished her mother by intoning: ”Crimson moon, crimson moon, look in through the dark window at me. The room is black. The corners are black. Black houses. And black – I myself.”
When Nika Turbina was 4 years old, looking out into the night from her home in Yalta, she astonished her mother by intoning: ”Crimson moon, crimson moon, look in through the dark window at me. The room is black. The corners are black. Black houses. And black – I myself.”
Four years and many poems later, she recited some of her work for the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. ”Only poets can read like that,” he recalls thinking, in an introduction to ”First Draft,” a book of poems Miss Turbina wrote between the ages of 5 and 8.
Now, a month shy of her 13th birthday, Miss Turbina is visiting New York and Boston for a week to read her poems and promote the book. A bilingual edition with English translations by Antonina W. Bouis and Elaine Feinstein is scheduled for publication here in January by Marion Boyars. ‘It’s Not Easy, Reading Poetry’
”You know, it’s not easy, reading poetry,” Miss Turbina remarked during a break last Sunday in a conference on translation at Barnard College. With her grandmother at hand and Ms. Bouis acting as interpreter, she said: ”It takes a lot of energy and strength. When I read a poem I re-feel all the emotion that went into it; every word evokes the pain as when I wrote it.”
The young poet, who will give a free reading today at 7:30 P.M. at the Queens College student union building (Long Island Expressway and Kissena Boulevard in Flushing), declaims in the traditional Russian style: dramatic and emotional.
At a Barnard lectern, wearing jeans and a sweater, a slim figure with light brown hair, she recited from memory in a resonant voice that sounded at times on the edge of a sob. It would rise in a crescendo and fall, rise and fall, then, typically, conclude with her head slightly lowered, a nod for each of the last three, separated, words.
According to her grandmother, Lyudmila Karpova, Miss Turbina’s ”crimson moon” and other early utterances alarmed the family at first. ”We thought the child was sick,” she recalled during a workshop at Barnard. ”There were nights when Nika didn’t sleep all night. She said she was ‘listening to the sounds of nature.’ ”
When she was 8, her verse was printed in a magazine, Komsomolskaya Pravda. That year, 1983, she wrote: How often I catch sidelong glances and sharp words hurt me like arrows I implore you – listen!You must not destroy the shortlived childlike dreams in me. My day is so small, and I want kindness so much for everyone even those who aim at me.
Miss Turbina, an only child, was often sickly, suffering from bronchial asthma and diabetes. She read Russian poetry and literature avidly, encouraged by her mother, a decorative artist who is divorced, and her grandmother, a retired administrator for the Soviet Government’s tourist agency. #30,000 Recordings Sold Asked the other day if she expected to make poetry her profession, Miss Turbina replied: ”Only time will tell. I have to do a lot of work and I have to live. I can’t live for myself, yet I catch myself living for myself.” Is that so bad? ”If you live only for yourself,” she said, ”life would not be worth living.”
Some 30,000 recordings of her poetry readings have been sold in the Soviet Union, and two years ago she went to Italy to receive the Golden Lion of Venice Award for ”First Draft.” How has all the stir affected her?
”Everyone likes when people are attentive to them,” she said. ”I’m not alone in that, I’m sure. But the most important thing is how I behave and what kind of person I am, if I’m interesting to speak to.” Her school friends, she said, pay no attention to the fuss. ”I’m just an ordinary kid,” she said with a smile.