Patrick Henry, Ph.D. 2006


Dissertation: Metarealism and the Question of Russian Postmodernism

It would be somewhat less than accurate to say that I took the direct route to the Ph.D. After completing my B.A. in Russian at Middlebury College in 1987, I returned home to Columbia, Missouri, and taught French at the university there while I applied to programs in Slavic for the following year.

I arrived at Cal in the fall of 1988 and left with an M.A. in the spring of 1990. My favorite course during that time was Prof. Karlinsky’s fabulous seminar on verbalism and futurism, in which he exposed us to the work of Guro, Oleinikov, Poplavskii and Prismanova, along with many better-known writers. I’ll never forget the sight of this serious, at times imposing scholar reading poems aloud to us with such evident glee that he seemed on the verge of breaking into song and dance.

After leaving Cal I dabbled in this and that for a while and eventually found my way into journalism. I worked as a reporter in Moscow for three years in the mid-1990s, covering everything from the Moscow Winter Gorodki Championship to Mikhail Gorbachev’s disastrous presidential bid in 1996, when he received just 0.5 percent of the vote, yet insisted that he had “established contact” with the Russian people during the campaign. In 1997 and 1998 I wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I came back to Cal in 1999 with the intention of working on the poetry of the 1970s and 1980s, which I had been translating since the late ’80s. In my dissertation I focused on three of these poets — Aleksandr Eremenko, Aleksei Parshchikov and Ivan Zhdanov — who came to be known (through no fault of their own) as “metarealists.” I moved to Moscow after passing my qualifying exams and wrote my dissertation here — definitely not an option I would recommend to others, as it reduced contact with my committee to emails and rare in-person meetings. I owe a debt of gratitude to Prof. Matich and Prof. Ram for their patience and commitment during what proved a rather lengthy writing process.

After serving as the political editor at the Moscow Bureau of Bloomberg news service, Patrick Henry moved to a European bureau, where he covers both Russia and the European Union.

For his coverage, see:

He lives in Brussels with his wife and twin daughters.

Relevant publications:

  • “Ivan Zhdanov” and five other entries will appear in the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Russian Culture, forthcoming from Routledge.
  • Iskusstvo pogloshcheniia, a Russian translation (with Mark Shatunovskii and Aleksei Parshchikov) of Artifice of Absorption, an essay by American poet Charles Bernstein. Forthcoming from OGI (Moscow). The first section of Iskusstvo pogloshcheniia appeared in Kommentarii 26 (2006).
  • Co-author (with Boris Wolfson) of Internet-based exercises for Nachalo published on the McGraw-Hill website in 2002 and 2003.
  • “Kostyor tshcheslavii” (On the history of Russia’s major writers’ unions since 1991). Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie No. 48 (2001).
  • Crossing Centuries: The New Generation in Russian Poetry Jersey City: Talisman House Publishers, 2000. Editorial board member and translator.
  • The Inconvertible Sky (selected poetry and prose by Ivan Zhdanov). Jersey City: Talisman House Publishers, 1996. Co-editor and translator.
  • The Right to Err (selected poetry and prose by Nina Iskrenko). Colorado Springs: Three Continents Press, 1995. Co-editor and translator.