Contemporary Russian Poetry and the Musical Avant-Garde: Performative Intersections

Hauptsächlicher Artikelinhalt

Ilya Kukulin


This paper is focused on a relatively new phenomenon: joint performances by poets and avant-garde (primarily electronic) musicians in contemporary Russia. In part, these performances are reminiscent of performances by American and Western European poets with jazz ensembles in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time in the Soviet Union, this practice was almost unheard of: when intermedial experiments did take place, poets – particularly the so-called “official” poets – turned not to music but to theatre. The most important elements of these performances were their emphases on virtuosic improvisation, the theatrical immediacy of what was taking place, and creating a community around the performer. In contrast, contemporary collaborations between poets and musicians largely demonstrate the non-self-sufficiency of their respective media and, in doing so, deconstruct the very premise of the poetic (lyric) subject. My contention is that intermediality as such – in this case, the interaction between music and poetry – could thus be the most important tool available for creating a “poetry without a subject.” Moreover, in practice, it has acquired a salient social and political meaning in modern Russia: depicting culture as a space of individualized dialogues and polylogues.


Kukulin, I. 2021. Contemporary Russian Poetry and the Musical Avant-Garde: Performative Intersections. Internationale Zeitschrift für Kulturkomparatistik. 2 (2021), 171-194. DOI: