Poet, performer and columnist Lev Rubinstein was born in 1947, in Moscow. He is a prominent Russian avant-garde poet and, together with Vsevolod Nekrasov and Dmitri Prigov, one of the first conceptualist writers.
In 1971 Rubinstein graduated from the Philology Faculty of the College of Pedagogy. He started writing in the 1960s.
Starting in the mid-70s, he has developed the Card File, a genre that mixes writing with visual- and performance arts techniques. His poems push the boundaries of what can be said verbally, visually and performatively.
Rubinstein won the Russian Andrey Bely Award in 1999.
His writing was first published in the late 70s in the West - in Russian and in translation. Not until 10 years later did his work appear in Russia.
For It Is Said
1. In anticipation of eternity we are unable to move hand or foot internally, for it is said, “Here at last you’ve arrived. I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”
2. What is least distinct is worth paying most attention to, for it is said, “One can’t distinguish the wings of a flying dragonfly.”
3. Even carefree gliding above blooming fields harbors a waft of worry, for it is said, “Joy is always ambiva- lent.”
4. You shouldn’t be overly afraid of an abrupt change of condition, for it is said, “It’s only natural if it’s fleeting.” 5. You shouldn’t be overly burdened by the absolute lack of change of condition, for it is said, “It’s only natural if it’s constant.”
6. You shouldn’t compare, for it is said, “It’s impossible to compare those who are alive.”
7. It is silly to allude to the vagueness of a situation, for it is said, “Fog is no hindrance to a prophet.”
8. Let’s not specify the date of prophesied events, for it is said, “The swallow will not sing before spring.”
9. Is there any sense in insisting on one’s rightness, for it is said, “Why are you yelling? Who’s listening to you?”
10. It makes no difference what a cloud drifting above reminds us of exactly, for it is said, “A cloud resembles a person—they both float somewhere . . .”
Translated from Russian by PHILIP METRES AND TATIANA TULCHINSKY