Vasilisk Gnedov (1878-1941)

Poem of the End (with no "The" in the title) is the best known poem by Russian poet Vasilisk Gnedov. One of the most radically experimental poets of Russian Futurism, Gnedov's Poem of the End consisted of its title alone on a blank page. Gnedov would perform the poem on stage using a silent gesture. The collection from which it came, Death to Art (1913), contained fifteen very short poems that gradually reduced in size from one line, to one word, one letter, and ultimately to Poem of the End. The poem has been compared to Kazimir Malevich's painting Black Square (1915), John Cage’s silent composition 4'33" (1952), and to Minimalism in general. A "recreation" of the performance of the poem was realized in 2007 by Miguel Molina, and released on cd by Recommended Records (ReR Megacorp) in a limited edition of 150 in 2009. The recording for the cd consists of approximately one hour of "silence" as captured via a wax cylinder, a recording device appropriate to the time.

The Poem of the End (with "The" in the title) is a major poem by the White Russian symbolist poet Marina Tsvetaeva. Written in Prague in 1924, the poem details the end of a passionate affair with Konstantin Boeslavovich Rozdevitch, a former military officer. Each of the sections deals with the crossing of a bridge and the symbolism is echoed relentlessly throughout the poem; the mood is unremittingly tense and foreboding.

Lovers for the most
part are without hope: passion
also is just
a bridge, a means of connection

(from the Elaine Feinstein translation).

The happy lot
Of lovers without hope:
Bridge, you are like passion:
A convention: pure transition.

(from the Nina Kossman translation)

Poem from the collection Death to Art, 1913, 0'09". MP3
Recorded By, Engineer [Postproduction] – Miguel Molina
Voice – Ernest Peshkov
Date – 2006

Vasilisk Gnedov, the pseudonym of Vasily Ivanovich Gnedov (b. Mankovo Berezovskaya 1890 - d. Kherson 1978) was an ego-futurist poet who took poetry to the extreme of minimal expression; some of his poems being the first examples of minimalism. In his book Death to Art (1913) there are 15 short poems, which gradually reduce to a line, a word, a letter and finally a blank page (see track 40). Poem 14 is composed of a single letter in cyrillic Ю [Yu] which is the penultimate letter of the Russian alphabet - as well as the penultimate poem in his book. It precedes the letter "ya", which is Poem 15 - the last in the book and which, for critics such as Nilsson and Jensen, symbolizes the anteroom of the affirmation of the "I-Ego" of the poet. For Gerald Janacek this poem also reflects the union of contraries "1" and "0" since th is letter is a natural diphthong made up from the elision of "y" and the back vowel "u". In the preface to the book the ego-futurist Ivan Ignatyev said t hat, with Gnedov, the letter is not only sound and colour, but also "taste", "sense of touch, weight and spatiality". Gnedov was the most experimental of the ego-futurists, using zaum words and neologisms extracted from co"oquial Ukrainian speech, placing him close to the cubo-futurists, indeed, he was the only ego-futurist poet they respected and he was included in the list of the 317 Presidents of Planet Earth (1917) drawn up by Velimir Khlebnikov, aiming to replace the "States of Space" with the "State of Time".

Russian Futurists from the GLM Collection (1920-1959)
Sound Experiments in The Russian Avant-Garde (1908-1942)