|M E M O
N O ! a r t
Born April 16, 1940, in Leningrad, Russia. He emigrated to the USA in 1975, wrote many essays about NO!art in Russian language. Many publications as a poet, artist and art-critic. Works as a professor at the university of Texas. Lives in upper Delaware, Lordville (USA). A multilingual Russian poet, essayist art collector/historian, visual/performance artist, and all around "enfant terrible" of contemporary Russian letters, Kuzminsky became one of the central figures in the St. Petersburg literary/artistic underground scene in the sixties and early seventies. His impressive organizing skills helped to integrate what could have been several groups of independently minded writers/poets/artists into a movement that rediscovered and extended the legacy of Russian Avant-garde/Russian Modernism. He was one of "five young poets from Leningrad" featured in a 1972 book by Suzanne Massie; another was his contemporary (only six weeks younger), Joseph Brodsky (1940-96), whose work is more self-consciously traditional.
As a poet Kuzminsky came to maturity in the early seventies, with the long poem Babylon Tower, wherein he drew on his different influences, from eighteenth-century Russian poetry to RUSSIAN FUTURISM and beyond. This poem put forward not one, but several literary styles that can be identified as Russian Imagism (not to be confused with Russian Imaginism), Russian Beat, and Russian jazz poetry, serving, in effect, as a blueprint for later developments in his writing. Babylon Tower also showed Kuzminsky’s first forays into multi-lingual poetry. What started as his early interest in various Russian dialects, evolved into “writing in tongues,” transcending European languages to include exotic blueprint for later developments in his writing. Babylon Tower also showed Kuzminsky’s first forays into multi-lingual poetry. What started as his early interest in various Russian dialects, evolved into “writing in tongues,” transcending European languages to include exotic African and Polynesian dialects. Kuzminsky’s outstanding short work Leopold Havelka mixes twenty-four languages into a coherent page-long poem, demonstrating his taste for the outrageous, as well as his mastery of sound textures: “Welcome, You, lotry und shabery, Bielorussians mit Ukrainsche geschrben das Kunstler und painter sans I’oeil, Yomkippurisch Blit monster Sie Branchen Teobaldus Grossier mit Poine zum Aliosha geschlossen - Potz und tausend Potz - meine herren und Damen, genuk …” Pushed out of his country by the K.G.B. in 1974, Kuzminsky settled in the United States. In the following fifteen years he edited and introduced (with G. Kovaley) The Blue Lagoon, a definitive nine-volume anthology of the underground Russian poetry from World War II to the seventies. Inclusion of juicy details, conflicting accounts, anecdotes of bohemian lifestyles, and tales of literary intrigue that would be shunned by most academians put his selections in the larger social/historic context, set a high standard yet to be matched by any academic scholar, and made The Blue Lagoon the most Inforable Russian anthology of the century.
Source: Igor Satanovsky, in: Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, a capella press, 1994.