“It’s not your love I’m asking for…” – A. Akhmatova

Russian Silver Age poetry translation series, 41/?
I am not so satisfied with this one, but today was a day I felt I had to get something done, and didn’t have the energy to do anything else I had planned, so I finished the partial translation I had sitting in my drafts folder for months.
Anna Akhmatova being spiteful.
It’s not your love I’m asking for.
It’s now locked up for safekeeping.
Believe that letters jealous, weeping,
I do not send to your bride’s door.
But take some wise advice of mine:
Let her read all my poetry;
Let her preserve portraits of me —
New bridegrooms are all so kind!
While those fool girls would rather claim
A full victorious sensation,
Than friendship’s sunlit conversations
Or memory of first tender days.
Then when you spend the farthing’s worth
Of joy given with your little dear
And to a soul once filled with mirth
Suddenly all so dull appears —
Then don’t come to my festive night.
I know not you nor your appeal.
How could I help, in any right?
Of happiness, I do not heal.
Anna Akhmatova, 1914; translation by Tamara Vardomskaya, 2016-January 2017.

2016 Award Eligibility Post

Apparently every writer these days does them, and I do find them convenient to check whether a story I liked is actually eligible for awards in a given year.

I have two works published in 2016, which word of mouth is telling me some people liked, and these are the categories they are eligible in:

Novelette by the Hugo/Nebula definition (Novella by the World Fantasy definition):

Polyglossia” March 2016 issue of GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith. A man who has lost his birth language, a woman with many languages, and a song that neither of them understand.

Listed on the Nebula Recommended Reading List, thank you to whoever put in a voice for me there. Also reviewed with approval by the Language Hat blog as “one of the most remarkable linguistics-oriented stories I’ve read.”

Short Story:

The Three Dancers of Gizari”. Issue #192 (February 2016) of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews. A poor financial manager longs for a mind-altering sculpture that her boss, the world’s richest woman, is buying — but the sculptor will not sell.

Listed on Tangent Online’s 2016 Recommended Reading List.

I am in my second year of eligibility for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. As a Canadian citizen, I am also eligible for the Prix Aurora Awards.


Bespin Ballads

Silly Verse Series, 8/?

I’ll include one more from the Star War Poems series, this one in pastiche of Rudyard Kipling’s “Danny Deever” (1890).

Bespin Ballads

“Why was Lord Vader running by?” the Stormtroopers all said.
“To pay me now, to pay me now,” said Bounty Hunter Fett.
“What makes you look so smug, so smug?” the Stormtroopers all said.
“I’ve got my job and my revenge,” said Bounty Hunter Fett.
For they’re carboniting Solo, you can hear John Williams play,
Up in Bespin’s Cloud City they are freezing him today.
He has made our good Hutt Jabba mad as ev’n Huttese can’t say,
So they’re carboniting Solo in the morning.

— Tamara Vardomskaya, 2015.

Space Fever

Silly Verse Series, 7/?
And to continue the Star Wars theme, because I’m actually watching the new film today, here is another pastiche from the Star War Poems series from Ecdysis Vol. 6, 2015, whose first appearance some of you may recall. John Masefield gets my apologies.

Space Fever

I must go out to space again, to the space where I feel alive.
And all I need is a fast ship, and a working hyperdrive,
And a blaster on my hip before, and a Wookiee friend beside me,
And secret compartments beneath the floor, for when the Imperials chide me.

I must go out to space again, for the sight when stars turn to lines
Is the loveliest sight in the Galaxy (and many of them were mine).
And all I need is a fair game, and a good straight fight,
And a reputation to match my name, and no carbonite.

I must go out to space again, to the life that is bold and free,
Where no one cares for the Empire, and the Empire knows not me.
And all I need is an asteroid where Destroyers dare not go,
And someone to tell me that they love me, and I will reply, “I know.”

— Tamara Vardomskaya, 2015.

An Imperial Stormtrooper Foresees His Death

Silly Verse Series, 6/?

In honour of the Star Wars movie coming out today, here is a pastiche from my Star War Poems series that appeared in Ecdysis in 2015.  This one is, of course, making W. B. Yeats roll in his grave.

An Imperial Stormtrooper Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Beyond the Galaxy above.
Rebels I fight, I do not hate,
Empire I guard, I do not love.
My planet is Mos Eisley Cross,
My folk its scum and villainy.
No likely end can bring them loss
Or make them happier or more free.
No law nor duty bade me fight,
Not Vader, nor Coruscant yon;
A lonely impulse of delight
Led me to put white armour on.
I balanced all, brought all to mind:
A waste of breath seemed future’s course,
A waste of breath the years behind,
And there’s no balance to the Force.

— Tamara Vardomskaya, 2015.

Orchestral Jabberwocky

Silly Verse Series, 5/?

At the beginning of undergrad, I came across a website of parodies of “Jabberwocky,” and promptly decided to do one of my own. This one came out as a homage to my experience in high school orchestra and string ensemble. Particularly in its only slightly anonymized portrayal of our music teacher and conductor Ms. Trudy Bradley, who was famed for (a) making food metaphors at every rehearsal; (b) associating people’s faces with instrument, position, and many details of personal life but never their names; (c) making the orchestra a chocolate sheet cake with Smarties (Canadian Smarties candy, which are very much like M&Ms) after successful performances. The quotations are directly taken from life. I hope she is enjoying her retirement.

Orchestral Jabberwocky

‘Twas pre-performance, and the clarinets
Were squeaking like banshees out of hell;
The trumpets were out-shouting the cornets
And the piano was flat as well.

“Beware Mozart’s 40th, concertmaster!
The notes are easy, the expression tough!
Some parts you rush faster and faster;
Some parts you don’t go fast enough.”

He put the chinrest ‘neath his chin
And everyone tuned to his A;
So rested he with his violin
And waited for the violas to play.

And as the conductor moved her stick
The violas came in, right on time.
They weren’t too slow, they weren’t too quick;
They were, in fact, sublime.

And on they played; they never strayed
From the baton’s one two three four.
The audience began to dance
And called for an encore.

“Did you hear THAT? Wasn’t that great?
Hurray for, um, violin boy!
We’ll have to bake a chocolate cake!”
The conductor cried for joy.

‘Twas post-performance, and the clarinets
Squeaked again like banshees out of hell;
The trumpets were out-shouting the cornets
And the piano was flat as well.

— Tamara Vardomskaya, 2003

A Christmas Wish To A Worst Enemy

‘Tis the season to recall a “fun assignment” we had in Grade 9 English for Christmas — the assumption of ubiquitous landlines shows its age. I never did hand it in, but I sure had fun with it. (The final pastiche on “Have A Very Happy Holiday,” my friends and I had made up back in Grade 5 or 6.)

A Christmas Wish To A Worst Enemy

After you’ve dragged in the Christmas tree
(Outside it’s minus fifty-three)
And set it up all prettily
With all those glass balls and doilies too,
All fragile as Cinderella’s shoe,
And take a step back to the side
To admire it with a smile of pride
And have everyone round say “Ooh!”…
May it just wobble round and round
And finally come toppling down
Complete with a crashing sound
To wake all in the nearest town.

May every two minutes by the clock
Your phone ring in a tone designed to annoy
To find Great Aunt Melissa Crock
Exclaiming in great bliss and joy:
“Oh, you must hear about my find!
This little darling of delight!
To tell you I’ve got half a mind…
But no! You must wait for the sight!
It is just right for Uncle Joe
And Cousin Cindy! Can’t you see her?!…”
You let out a moan of anguish and woe
As you slam down the receiver
Only to be forced again to talk
In two more minutes by the clock.

When all of this seems to be over
May a dreadful howling ensue
And: “Oh no! Listen! Poor dear Rover!
Who’ll take him outside? Oh, you!”
And off you’ll trudge into the dark,
Into the blizzard, dark and drear,
With poor dear Rover to the park,
Enjoying some more Christmas cheer
While snow never seems to cease
(I told you it was minus fifty-three degrees.)

After Rover answered Nature’s call
And you crawl in, all frozen dumb,
May you think outside best of all
You put up a valiant, losing fight
But you are forced to sing “Silent Night”
Accompanied, when it comes to that,
By Uncle Joe’s bass (four tones flat)
And Aunt Ann screaming like a scalded cat.

Dinner fills the house with its smell –
You’d rather face all Dante’s Hell.
The dining room’s adorned with Christmas cheer –
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
“Turkey’s on the table, look!”
Yes, and Cousin Cindy was the cook,
It is therefore safest to stay
Fifteen kilometres away
But you have to eat it anyway
(You must eat all before you set
According to the rules of etiquette.)

By the time Aunt Melissa’s lemon tarts are seen
Your stomach feels like it has gangrene,
You turn a shade of bread-mould green,
You choke on the bowl of your spoon
And tumble to the floor in a swoon.

And when you’re lying in bed with an aching head –
I hope you realise, all the same,
That all this tormentation
Is all for calling me a name
Unfit for publication.

Have a very dreadful holiday,
May your home be filled with awfulness,
May your Christmas be a dreadful day
For everyone you hate and curse,
May your troubles be enormous ones,
May your faults be much worth mentioning,
May your New Year be the very worst it possibly could be!

— Tamara Vardomskaya, December 1999