Episode 2 of Staying Alive: Poetry and Crisis features the work of British poet, editor, and translator Sasha Dugdale.
I first became acquainted with Sasha during her tenure as editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. In that time, Sasha oversaw the production of a digital archive of the journal as well as an anthology titled Centres of Cataclysm (Bloodaxe Books, 2016), which she co-edited with Peter and Helen Constantine. Her own translations from the Russian include the works of the poets Elena Shvarts, Marina Stepanova, and Marina Tsvetaeva. And like other poets who translate, echoes of these poets find their way into her own poems.
Last September, I traveled to Brighton, a coastal city in southeast England, to talk to Sasha about the ghosts that inhabit her third collection, Red House, published in 2011 by Carcanet Press. In this episode, we talk about the experiences that shaped this collection, specifically Sasha’s longtime engagement, through translation, with Russian-language poetry and her reflections on the breakdown of the Soviet Union. We address the possibility of translation to offer an afterlife to past voices and texts, as well as Sasha’s current interest in “deformations” of the ballad form as a continuation of her work in poetry and translation.
[Correction: In the podcast, I refer to the anthology Dugdale edited as “Cataclysms of Crisis.” The correct title is “Centres of Cataclysm.”]