The Joyous Science offers a comprehensive introduction to Maxim Amelin. The poems span Amelin’s long career and cover his many thematic concerns. A loving collector of neologisms and a devoted student of Revolutionary word-smithing (à la Mayakovsky), Amelin keeps his poetry in suspension through a tension of opposites. He writes of bodily pleasures while musing on the body’s resurrection. He is critical of Russia but loves its language. Riddles, odes, and elegies appear alongside a long poem, “The Joyous Science.” This 20-page mock epic chronicles the exploits—both real and imagined—of Jacob Bruce, an astronomer, alchemist, and military strategist to Peter the Great. Amelin is a unique force in contemporary Russian poetry.
“Mong and Fisher have succeeded in finding a distinctive voice in English for Amelin, a poet steeped in the philosophical traditions and poetic culture of Russia. There is poetry in Mong and Fisher’s translation, wrought in judicious and playful word choice, internal rhyme, and with a sensitive ear for song, sense, and soulfulness. There are even places where these translations equal or, perhaps, surpass the original in their crispness and linguistic innovation, making this collection not only a remarkable accomplishment of poetic translation but truly a pleasure to read.”–Cliff Becker Prize judges — Diana Thow, Anthony Anemone and Joanna Trzeciak Huss
"Maxim Amelin's poems come to me with everything I need in certain moments, and nothing I do not: they bring God without consolation, history without meaning, irony without bitterness. Amelin is a poet who knows when to observe, when to question, when simply to delight in a fortuitous turn of phrase, and The Joyous Science offers us a modern Baroque, perfectly poised between music and wit, in translations that truly make English the poet's native language. An excellent book."— Ben Paloff