The Diving Bell
PoemsPaperback - 2006
Ignatova's verse is highly concentrated--rich with aromas and colors and the sometimes bitter hint of what is left unsaid. Particular words or motifs gain intensity as they repeat through varied contexts. Her verse is classical, with effective but traditional versification and frequent shades of Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam and of course Pushkin.
Ignatova's work is also unmistakably contemporary in its stylistic range, marked not only by current events but by the dissident angst, subversive linguistic play and conversational ease of the late Soviet period. She combines both Russian Orthodox and Biblical spiritual sensibility by setting her poems amid the famous beauties and chimeras of St. Petersburg, places where she has visited or has family ties (Crimea and Smolensk), and the new, ancient environs of Jerusalem, described as crystalline and distinct from St. Petersburg's granite.
Elena Alekseyevna Ignatova was born in Leningrad in 1947 and began to publish her poetry abroad in 1975. Her book The Warm Earth appeared in Leningrad in 1989, not long before she immigrated to Israel in 1990. Ignatova also penned the substantial historical and cultural survey Notes on Saint Petersburg , in which she conveys her vision of the city on the occasion of its 300th anniversary.
Sibelan Forrester has translated the work of numerous Russian poets, as well as stories from Serbian and Croatian, and has written scholarly works on Russian literature, especially Modernist poetry. She is an associate professor of Russian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Swarthmore College.