UAlbany Professor Appears in International Online Celebration of Russian Poetry

Russian Poetry Expert Timothy Sergay
Russian poetry expert and UAlbany faculty member Timothy Sergay

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 8, 2021) – More than 50 Russian and Russian-American poets, scholars, translators and fans of Russian poetry, including Associate Professor Timothy Sergay of UAlbany, gathered over Zoom last month for Baratynsky Day, a five-hour international and multilingual celebration of Russian poetry.

The virtual gathering included the Chilean poet, artist and essayist Cecilia Vicuña.

The celebration was organized in Albany by St. Rocco’s Poetry Collective (SRPC) in collaboration with Ugly Duckling Presse, based in Brooklyn. The event is named for Yevgeny Baratynsky (1800–1844), a Russian lyric and philosophic poet, a contemporary of Alexander Pushkin.

The organizers hope to make the event an annual one to be held on the first Saturday in March, near Baratynsky’s birthday (March 2 in the West). The poems performed were taken largely but not exclusively from Baratynsky and included early modern, Soviet and contemporary works. The keynote speaker for this second Baratynsky Day was Rawley Grau, the translator and editor of a recent anthology of Baratynsky’s poems, A Science Not for the Earth, published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2015. The Zoom hosts included UAlbany alumnus Douglas Rothschild ’80, of SRPC and Matvei Yankelevich of Ugly Duckling Presse.

Sergay, who teaches Russian in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, performed a classic narrative poem of World War II, “I Was Killed Close to Rzhev” (1945-1946) by Aleksandr Tvardovsky (1910-1971), first in Russian and then in his own translation, which will be published in a bilingual anthology in Moscow.

A Zoom recording of the second Baratynsky Day is available for viewing on Facebook. Sergay appears between 1:30 and 1:41.

The first Baratynsky Day was held in March of 2019 at the former Hudson River Coffee House, where owner Anton Pasquill served blini, borscht and tea. Pasquill, a former UAlbany student, was also a participant in the second Baratynsky Day.