Robert McDonald August 3, 2022

– Elena, are you a Petersburger? What do you associate Peter with?

– Well… it’s a house. Yes, I was born on a January morning in the hero city of Leningrad. Associated? What is the house associated with? With warmth. With my grandparents, they lived on Ligovsky, I spent all my school years there. My grandfather was a civil engineer, and my grandmother Irina Markovna – she taught music, a pianist. Someone always played in the apartment, the students came. And there was a smell of baking and cigarettes. There was always a lot of bread at home. Grandmother very often baked all sorts of buns with raisins, jam, and grandfather smoked a lot until the last day. Blockade survivors started smoking early in order to interrupt the feeling of hunger. He still always ate very quickly, his grandmother always told him – do not rush, do not rush, but he did not know how to do it differently.

– Is there any place of power in St. Petersburg for you?

– The whole of St. Petersburg is a great place of power. I never got bored in my life, just walking around. I highly recommend it to everyone, right from the Rebellion Square and go while there is strength. Don’t know. I like Champ de Mars. Peterhof is probably a place of power. The lower park, where the pier is, where Monplaisir is, one thinks very well there, looking at the Gulf of Finland. Also, of course, in the city at the Five Corners there is a tower, there is a workshop of Sergei Semkin, this, like a lighthouse, is also an incredible place. In general, St. Petersburg is the best place, certainly in Russia for sure … I guess I haven’t been to many places.

“Did you intentionally never tell Peter?”

– Yes, I almost never use it in my speech. More often I say Petersburg or St. Petersburg, but it does not jar me.

– Well, in Russia – Petersburg, but in the World? What is the best city?

– Rome, in my paradigm they are similar… St. Petersburg and Rome are two eternal cities, I’m talking now and goosebumps run. When you touch history, when the thought arises about what happened here, what you were told about in history lessons. And here he stands the Colosseum, it’s beyond words to describe, the pulse goes off scale. I also love Spain. I have the most pleasant memories of Torrevieja. I would probably, if I had not been a coward, even left there in my old age, but these thoughts leave me as quickly as they come. And it is impossible not to mention Barcelona in my mind-blowing list! I was there at a bullfight, but it’s a nightmare and bad at all, and it’s even banned there. But they told me that in the season the first and last bullfights are the most spectacular and I got just on the last one. It’s scary, of course, but incredible. Then I listened to Aria Torrero for a week on repeat and bought a picture with a bullfight.

– From travel to creativity! How long have you been writing poetry?

– I started a very, very long time ago! She quit, then started again. Then she wanted to write songs in her rock-n-roll youth, she quit again. You have no idea how many notebooks and notepads I wrote. I just threw out tons, because it seemed to me that all this was terrible nonsense and mediocrity. Now, too, probably nonsense, but I have become easier to relate to this, if at least three people like my work, then this is not in vain. Together with my youngest daughter – finally left me, my youthful maximalism! Again, as long as there is Morgenstern and Face, I am not ashamed of myself.

– Did someone instill in you this love of poetry and literature?

– Undoubtedly. Again, this is from my grandfather. They had a huge library, he probably read everything in the world. He even at a respectable age went to the library, took books. The memory was phenomenal, biographies of writers with all dates. The whole history, who, when, fought with whom. Name any poet, he will begin to read poetry. Just encyclopedic knowledge and a clear mind. I really think that if I adopted at least something from him, then I will also be in my old age in a sober memory!

– What is your favorite poet or several?

– Well, of course, Pushkin, unconditionally a genius, and I must say, I was imbued with him rather late, but a talent. And I want to believe in this theory that he did not die. Do you know? That he had been preparing the ground for himself for several years, then rigged his death, left for France, and this is how Alexandre Dumas appeared. Even portraits are compared and it seems that there is some truth in this. Poets… Blok, of course, very powerful, mature. But my heart belongs entirely to Pasternak, if I ever write something that resonates with me in the same way, I will never rhyme a single line again.

You didn’t name a single woman.

– Yes, I did not list all the men. Brodsky. Yesenin, for example, is cool. Although I like him better as a character. Such Sid Vicious of the Silver Age. Women. Of course Akhmatova. Also, as a character, a very cool Pallada Olympovna, who Bogdanova-Belskaya, an incredible adventurer, was married 4 times. A socialite would now say. True, her poems are not close to me, but the image is crazy – feathers, bracelets, cigarettes with opium. Cool aunt. Well, modern ones, of course, Vera Polozkova, Sola Monova. A lot of! There are a lot of great and talented people, and I’m unlikely to be in the same line with them. But still beloved Pasternak!

– Your daughters do not write?

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to accustom them to books even one iota. They read Harry Potter, tearing it out of each other’s hands, but then the excitement disappeared. Maybe something else will change. Now there are many temptations, phones, tik-toks, the Internet. We did not have all this, so we read it.

– Don’t you think that now any creativity is a desecration of art? All and sundry sing, music is made on the computer, texts without meaning, paintings – colored stripes that are sold at auctions?

– Listen, here you caught me. Although, I say, and I already said today, that if at least three people like your work, it’s not in vain. It’s just that now there are many more people who want to become popular. Of course, before I had to go to a music school, then a college, learn notes, practice vocals. Now they sang something into the phone, posted it – a million views. But then again, as quickly as popularity comes, it also goes away, right? It is unlikely that someone in the yard in 50 years will sing with a guitar about the “New Cadillac”, but I’m sure they will. And look at Aivazovsky now – goosebumps and in a hundred years, there will be the same goosebumps. I would simply not compare these categories … some regular singing blogger and professional vocalist, it’s like comparing square with red. And in vain you are so categorical, take poets, For example, Velemir Khlebnikov, read him, look who wrote at the same time with him, someone probably also likes it. Read, then say!

– Do you communicate with other writers, poets? Do you attend literary events, book exhibitions?

– Not as often as I would like, but, yes, I go, I communicate periodically. Still, poetry does not bring me money, I hope so far! Therefore, I have to go to work, but fortunately, I like it. I am a rare specimen today, I work by profession – a translator, after the Faculty of Foreign Languages ​​​​of St. Petersburg State University.

– Which writer did you last visit? What was this event?

– Here, you, too … extreme! The last time, a normal word is the last, you should not be ashamed of it. And I was, not to say that at a literary event. At a lecture at Nevzorov’s, I wanted to sign the book. But my daughter called and I ran away.

– And you didn’t sign it?

– No, and I’m unlikely to do it already, but let it be the worst thing that I haven’t done in my life!

– What are your creative ambitions, plans? Maybe a book?

– There is no specific plan for how it will go. Now I made a channel on Yandex Zen, even in a telegram and on YouTube, let’s see what comes of it. I’m unlikely to publish on paper, I don’t see the point. And ambitions, of course, are somewhere very deep, I probably want to see them in a few years. Even if not in a literature lesson, but at least in an elective class, some schoolboy read my poem in front of the class. But if this does not happen, I will not be very upset …

Thanks Elena! What would you finally say to our readers?

– Thank you! I would say that you should not be shy about anything, there is some kind of impulse, you must definitely try to realize it! Love your family, go for a walk, drink delicious wine, read good books and listen to good music. Or don’t do it all!