Elena Fanailova (c) Alexander Tjagny-Rjadno
Elena Fanailova, born in 1962 in Voronesh, Russia, is many things at the same time: a trained doctor, a philologist and a radio reporter. But above all she is Russia’s most important contemporary woman poet and one of the severest critics of Vladimir Putin. Fanailova is a political artist in the emphatic sense, as a proponent of a new form of littérature engage. For her, the most noble job of the poet is to put into words what other people are unable or unwilling to say. In doing so she is explicitly following in the footsteps of Osip Mandelstam, a poet she deeply admires.
One of the main concerns of Fanailova’s work, a unique contribution to the “effect of the native language / in the country of nature reserves”, is a deep interrogation of the shifting history of her country. Her poems are complex in their language and ideas and speak of her country’s crises and wars from the Second World War to Afghanistan, Chechenya and the Ukraine conflict. At the same time, Fanailova is a master of extremely personal poems of remembrance of wonderful tenderness. Fanailova studied Medicine and Linguistics in Voronesh, where she worked for six years as a doctor. At the end of the 90s she moved to Moscow and worked as a correspondent for Svoboda Radio (Radio Freedom). In 1999 she was awarded the Andrei Bely Prize, Russia’s oldest independent literary prize.
Publications (a selection): The Russian Version, Ugly Duckling, 2009