Magnificent Moscow in Oryx Magazine, Qatar Airways

Anaïs Nin: “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

It’s a nice feeling to relive travel memories. My “Weekend Away in Moscow” was published in this month’s Oryx Magazine for Qatar Airways. If you’re not traveling on the airline in September, you can take a read of the snapshot here:

“At 867 years of age, Moscow shows no signs of slowing down. Rather, the sprawling metropolis is an energetic international hub, buzzing with 12 million residents and ranking second in the global billionaire stakes. This fascinating city is a melange of glitz, glamour, and a rich cultural heritage.” Read more: weekend away – Magnificent Moscow – Europe – Oryx In-Flight Magazine.

These pictures will make sense after you’ve read the piece.

Red Square2

The cobblestoned Red Square

Red Square x 2

Red Square x 2

The 19th-century premium shopping mall, GUM

The 19th-century premium shopping mall, GUM

New Tretyakov Gallery, housed in the Central House of Artists

New Tretyakov Gallery, housed in the Central House of Artists

Art in New Tretyakov: The New Moscow (1027) by Yuri Pimenov

Art in New Tretyakov: The New Moscow (1937) by Yuri Pimenov

Gorky Park and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art run by Dasha Zhukova

Gorky Park and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art run by Dasha Zhukova

Cafe at Garage

Cafe at Garage

The moonlit Red Square

The moonlit Red Square

The Red Square illuminated from the Moscow River

The Red Square illuminated from the Moscow River

 

A Weekend of Photographing

Well, that’s the plan anyway…

This long weekend marks the end of the summer (not technically) in the USA. With some spare hours, I hope to pick up the camera and become a tourist. Obviously, it’s easier to do so when on holidays… Oh, Happy Labour Day!

My sister took this photo of me in St Petersburg, Russia.

My sister took this photo of me in St Petersburg, Russia.

I (insert word here) LA

Make of this what you will, but I love LA.

The picture was taken of a poster on the exterior of a vacant store on Lincoln Boulevard; opposite Superba Food + Bread in Venice Beach, where the coffee* is hair-raising good. It gave me a much-needed jolt.

*Brewed with beans by Heart Roasters in Oregon.

IMG_20140825_102314

White Nights in St Petersburg, Russia

I met my mum and sister in St Petersburg, Russia, just as June rolled into July; when the glorious White Nights were are their peak. The sun hardly slept — sometimes it napped under a blanket of clouds — and when the moon showed its face, it shone as bright as a beacon. The historic city was always illuminated and teeming with life, but its wide open spaces allowed for pause and reflection. I was awake throughout.

St Isaac's Cathedral

St Isaac’s Cathedral

View of Hotel Astoria and St Isaac's Square from the cupola of St Isaac's Cathedral

View of Hotel Astoria and St Isaac’s Square from the cupola of St Isaac’s Cathedral

Pigeons at Alexander Nevsky Monastery

Pigeons at Alexander Nevsky Monastery

The grand Petrodvoretz, the Tsar's Summer Palace

The grand Petrodvoretz, the Tsar’s Summer Palace

On the birch tree-lined fringes of the Gulf of Finland at Petrodvorets, the Tsar's summer palace

On the birch tree-lined fringes of the Gulf of Finland at Petrodvorets, the Tsar’s Summer Palace

Boating along the canals

Boating along the canals

Me, dwarfed by the palatial Hermitage

Me, dwarfed by the palatial Hermitage, the Winter Palace of every Tsar and Tsarina since Catherine the Great

Midsummer night light streaming through at 10pm

Midsummer night light streaming through at 10pm at Petro Palace Hotel

The moon by St Isaac's Cathedral

The moon by St Isaac’s Cathedral

Wanderlust — by Richard Avedon

Avedon was a poet and we didn’t know it?

Reading photographer Richard Avedon’s 1941 Scholastic Art & Writing award-winning poem Wanderlust on the back page of this month’s Harpers Bazaar was an apropos finale to a marathon magazine-reading session on an overcast Saturday in L.A.

WANDERLUST

You must not think because my glance is quick

To shift from this to that, from here to there,

Because I am most usually where

The way is strangest and the wonders thick,

Because when wind is wildest and the bay

Swoops madly upward and the gulls are few

And I am doing as I want to do,

Leaving the town to go my aimless way;

You must not think because I am the kind

Who always shunned security and such

As bother the responsible of mind

That I shall never total up to much;

I know my drifting will not prove a loss,

For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss.

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Lost In Translation: Sergey Esenin

The Russian-to-English translator’s job is a tough one. They face a constant dilemma in transforming  melodic Russian verse into rigid English. It’s unfortunate, but many times a bad translation will make the most evocative Russian sentence sound flat and dull.

In my research of Russian literature, I have been reading about Sergey Esenin — one of the country’s most-loved lyrical poets. Born in the country, he moved to the city — Moscow, then Petrograd — and in 1918, formed the Imagist poetry group.The Revolution had an impact on Esenin; he found it hard to adjust to the new way of life, and alcohol and drugs furthered his disillusionment. Over the course of 30 years, Esenin wed four times (American dancer Isadora Duncan was his third wife), becoming a father through marriage and a romantic liaison. All this made for  moving and emotive verse that, while poignant, thrives on masterful composition.

So, what does this have to do with translation? While combing through copious amount of information, I came across a number of English translations of Esenin’s final poem. Stumped, I searched for the original and found no translation to be a match. They were all either too wordy, exaggerated, and/or neglected to honour the poet’s words. I ended up translating the eight lines myself and believe me, it’s hard to balance the literal and the melodious, yet that shouldn’t compromise the poem’s integrity.

THE FINAL POEM

Apparently, this final untitled poem was written in blood. Esenin, who was staying at the Hotel Angleterre in Leningrad, could not find any ink and used his lifeblood to complete the piece. The poem became public around the same time he was found in his hotel room, hanging from a radiator pipe. Whether Esenin committed suicide or not is undetermined. He had been mentally unstable and suffered from a drug addiction, though some attribute his death to the hands of the secret police. Politically, Esenin was out of favour as his “village” poetry clashed with the industrial theories of the Revolution.

Esenin left his legacy in the most beautiful of poetic works that continue to be devoured. I checked Twitter and found that the Russians love nothing more than to share a cup of coffee with Esenin in the spring.

Here’s my translation of this final poem. The original is below if you want to have a go of translating it yourself, or to at least compare with Google translate. If you come across wildly varied versions in either case, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye.

My dear, you are in my heart.

This predestined parting

Promises a meeting in time to come.

 

Goodbye, my friend, without a hand, without a word,

Don’t be sad and furrow your brow in sorrow, –

To die in this life is not new,

But to live, of course, is not newer.

(1925)

До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья.
Милый мой, ты у меня в груди.
Предназначенное расставанье
Обещает встречу впереди.

До свиданья, друг мой, без руки, без слова,
Не грусти и не печаль бровей, —
В этой жизни умирать не ново,
Но и жить, конечно, не новей.

(1925)

Esenin and Duncan

Esenin and Duncan