Kirsanov, Semyon Isaakovich

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KIRSANOV, SEMYON ISAAKOVICH (1906–1972), Russian poet. Kirsanov was born in Odessa as the son of a tailor and graduated there from the philological faculty in 1925. He became a disciple of the Soviet writer Vladimir Mayakovsky. He continued that poet's tradition of brash, masculine verse with unconventional imagery and metrics and unexpected verbal acrobatics. Kirsanov was one of the very few Soviet poets to build on the foundations laid by the futurist movement. He favored social and political subjects. Much of his poetry is declamatory in form and propagandistic in content. Though outwardly similar to much of mediocre Soviet verse, it is redeemed by its hyperbolic quality which imparts to it a myth-like quality. Among his more noteworthy collections are Stikhi v stroyu ("Verses in Military Formation," 1932), and Mys zhelaniya ("The Cape of Desire," 1938). The best of his longer poems include Tovarishch Marks ("Comrade Marx," 1933), Poema o robote ("A Poem About the Automaton," 1935), and Noch pod Novy vek ("New Century's Eve," 1937). During World War ii Kirsanov wrote much anti-Nazi verse. He also produced rhymed ditties for propaganda posters, and was the creator of Zavetnoye slovo Fomy Smyslova ("Mark the Words of Foma Smyslov"), an anti-Nazi comic strip serialized in Soviet army newspapers. His marked fondness for biblical imagery may be connected with memories of childhood in the intensely Jewish milieu of Odessa. Thus, a poem written in the late 1940s is entitled Edem ("Paradise") – an unusual instance of a biblical word used as a title for a Russian poem. Kirsanov's best-known post-Stalin poetic work – and one of the most important of the "thaw" – was Sem dney nedeli ("Seven Days of the Week," 1957). This long narrative poem, modeled after the account of the creation in Genesis, states that the Soviet system has been successful in creating material objects, but that real man, free of cowardice and greed, is yet to be created. The poem was violently denounced as anti-Soviet slander, but Kirsanov succeeded in weathering the storm.

[Maurice Friedberg]