“The Big Fire at the Architectural College” by Andrei Voznesensky (translated by Anselm Hollo) originally appeared in City Lights Pocket Poets Series No 16. Published in 1962, and entitled Red Cats, Hollo included translations of three Russian poets: Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, and Semyon Kirsanov.

Here is a reading of “The Big Fire at the Architectural College” (translated by Anselm Hollo). It is my favourite poem from Red Cats. While not exactly surrealist, or even absurdist, it is in that larger tradition of romanticism, and surrealism is part of that tree too. Ahhh there are so many branches. I think the plain language/vernacular is a major attraction. There is so much you can do with plain language, like pull the rug out from under it, or add a little dab of poetic sauce, but no so much that it turns your stomach.

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