Holy Winter (Paperback)

Holy Winter By Maria Stepanova, Sasha Dugdale (Translated by) Cover Image
By Maria Stepanova, Sasha Dugdale (Translated by)


A deeply moving poem about winter and exile, war and the pandemic from “Russia’s greatest living poet” (Poetry) and the acclaimed author of In Memory of Memory

The outbreak of Covid-19 cut short Maria Stepanova’s 2020 stay in Cambridge. Back in Russia, she spent the ensuing months in a state of torpor—the world had withdrawn from her, time had “gone numb.” When she awoke from this state, she began to read Ovid, and the shock of the pandemic dissolved into the voices and metaphors of a transformative, epochal experience. Her book-length poem Holy Winter, written in a frenzy of poetic inspiration, speaks of winter and war, of banishment and exile, of social isolation and existential abandonment. Stepanova finds sublime imagery for the process of falling silent, interweaving love letters and travelogues, Chinese verse and Danish fairy tales into a polyphonic evocation of frozen time and its slow thawing.

As a poet and essayist, Stepanova was a highly influential figure for many years in Moscow’s cosmopolitan literary scene until it was strangled by Putin, along with civil liberties and dissent. Like Joseph Brodsky before her, she has mastered modern poetry’s rich repertoire of forms and moves effortlessly between the languages and traditions of Russian, European, and transatlantic literature, potently yet subtly creating a voice like no other.

Her poetry, which here echoes verses by Pushkin and Lermontov, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva, is not hermetic. She takes in and incorporates the confusing signals from social networks and the media, opening herself up to the voices of kindred poets like Sylvia Plath, Inger Christensen, and Anne Carson.

About the Author

Maria Stepanova, born in Moscow in 1972, is a poet, essayist, and journalist, and editor in chief of the online newspaper ColtaIn Memory of Memory, also published by New Directions, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, and longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature, the Dublin Literary Award, and the Baillie Gifford Prize.

Sasha Dugdale is a British poet, playwright, and translator. She has published five collections of poems with Carcanet Press, most recently Deformations.

Praise For…

Wildly experimental, and yet movingly traditional. Ironic, and yet obsessed with spell-making. Full of allusions to various different canonical voices, and yet heart-wrenchingly direct. What, friends, is this? It’s that glorious thing: the poetry of Maria Stepanova.
— Ilya Kaminsky

Like T. S. Eliot or Ezra Pound, Stepanova allows a multitude of voices to speak through her lines.
— Rachel Polonsky - Times Literary Supplement

The moving, polyvocal latest from Stepanova (War of the Beasts and the Animals) is a book-length snowscape sequence that blends voices of fracture and love, evoking Ovid in exile and other historical touchstones, from Baron Munchausen to Hans Christian Andersen. Bound together by a gently thoughtful steeliness, these poetic utterances are at once plaintive and resolute.

— Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780811235143
ISBN-10: 0811235149
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 80
Language: English