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Vladimir Azarov

"I transformed myself in the zero of form." Kazimir Malevich


Seven Lives : Short Stories in Verse

Publisher Exile Editions,
Canada, Toronto

ISBN 978-1550096-391-5
Illustrations by Deborah Barnett

Seven Lives -
Almost everything can be taken from an individual, but his or her story

Seven Lives is Vladimir Azarov's childhood experiences of Soviet life transformed into a poetic witnessing. Growing up in Kazakstan, it was hidden from him that his family was in political exile. This gave him an unrealistic optimism which helped him to overcome many of the challenges of his life at the time and to find his own way in that artificial world. "One must dare to be happy" - says Azarov of this perceived blindness; it became his life's philosophy. His ability to bring immediacy of experience and the poignancy of loss into the reader's current imagination in bittersweet poetic renderings often makes the listener or reader wait on the edge of his or her own imagination for the next turn of the story.


(Poem from "To Aunt Shura" of the Book)

The teal-blue dusk of August on
My grandparents' house bench in a Russian village

I am listening to a herd of cows coming in to sleep
In their home stalls after eating

Their day's fill in the meadows, before producing that indecent
Milk sound in the aluminium-silver pails in a

Dark space (I listened to it last night).
I am resting for a week after entering an arts

Institution. I am seventeen
I forgot the herdsman-god Hermes' plaster head

Which I completed for an exam, a pencil
Line-drawing Greek vases, conjugation with an ink

Mapping pen.
Village crickets chirp louder at night.

My aunt Valentina comes and sits by me. She is a
Livestock doctor, a vet waiting for the cows,

Their heavy steps coming closer. Sometimes
A mooing sound.

"Oh! by the way!" -
My Aunt mutters, "Your smart grandfather

Healed a dying cow! She'd eaten a poison weed. She lay
Absolutely still, just crying quietly and

Your grandfather cut the bottom off of a bottle and
Inserted the glass neck into the cow's anus to let loose

A power of wind!" I wonder
If the herdsman I've sketched knows how to heal this way.

I wish
I knew more about the Greek god Hermes.

Seven Lives. Drawings by Deborah Barnett

Cover Image copyright Ilia Efimovich Repin (1844 - 1930); The Volga Boatmen (1870 - 1873). Used by permission or the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

Ewan Whyte, poet and translator of Catullus and Horace, is a literary contributing reviewer and critic, Globe and Mail.

© 2013-2016, Vladimir Azarov. Web design by Andrei Korolev, Andrew Urusov.