‘Poet of the world’ calls Columbus home, for a while (Columbus and the Valley magazine, Nov-Dec 2013)
Moscow winters are frigid. And Anzhelina Polonskaya hates the cold.
“I love heat,” Polonskaya says, gesturing outward with both hands. A noted Russian poet who hasn’t followed the well-worn path of traditional Russian literature, Polonskaya is this year’s Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellow, a position awarded by the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians of Columbus State University.
Sitting outside the Carson McCullers home on a recent evening, the setting sun prompts her to squint, but she seems to welcome the chance to sit in the sunlight nonetheless. In conversation, through her thick Russian accent, it becomes clear that it’s not just the weather that makes her feel at odds with her country.
“I can’t write at home,” she says. “There are many, many political problems, and the environment around me is not very quiet. At night, I write, and at night I can’t write and think about my motherland, and people who are in jail.”
Polonskaya is a member of the Russian PEN-centre, a group of writers publicly critical of the government on human rights issues. A recent statement from the group opposed the prosecution of a punk rock band on “hooliganism” charges.
“Our country doesn’t change a lot,” she said. “You can buy glamorous things now, if you have the money. But people are like they’re looking for a new Stalin. It’s very sad in a way, very sad, but true.”
Columbus is a far different world.