Growing up in the Soviet Union to Becoming an American Poet ‹ Literary Hub


For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today?

Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.

Irina Mashinski is a bilingual Russophone American writer, poet, essayist, teacher, and translator, whose works include Giornata and eleven books of poetry and essays in Russian. She is also the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry.

In this episode, Irina talks with Jacke about her childhood in the Soviet Union, her journey to becoming a poet living in America, and her new book The Naked World, which mixes poems and prose accounts to tell the story of four generations of a family living through Stalin’s Great Terror, the Thaw of the Sixties, and the post-Thaw Seventies.

Special note: Irina would like to express her gratitude to the editors and translators who helped with The Naked World, and to whom she is very grateful.


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