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Comments on A Life Replaced by Fellow Poets

“Olga Livshin has braided her own poems with her superb translations of Akhmatova and Gandelsman, poets she describes as ‘ecstatic voices.’ Livshin’s voice, too, is ecstatic—and unflinching, and loving, and full of earned wisdom. In poem after poem, Livshin, who immigrated to the US from Russia as a child, acknowledges the two Americas she knows firsthand: the one that fears and demonizes, and the one that welcomes. A Life Replaced is astonishingly beautiful, intelligent, and important.”

—Maggie Smith


“What a blazing book! Fiery and original, its originality rooted partly in its passionate indebtedness. Olga Livshin has created her own genetic strands from the poems of Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Gandelsman, and the Russian and English languages. Her passionate lyrics blend wit, sorrow, fury, mother love, and eros in lines at once tender, savage, and scarred by history.”

— Rosanna Warren


“In this sensuous, funny, dark, and tender collection, Livshin documents her life as a Russian-American, American-Russian, an immigrant, a Jew, grappling with memory, home, exile, and survival amidst violent times, braided with the worlds of the interlocutors she translates. In reply to Anna Ahkmatova, and to all of us, Livshin implores: ‘This century is worse than those before it. Change something.’”

– Nomi Stone

A Life Replaced is a true literary hybrid, a book-conversation in which Livshin’s original poetry and her translations call to one another, blurring the borders between centuries, countries, and languages. Daring and tender, unapologetically political and deeply personal, it is a timely reminder of what it means to be an immigrant.”

— Ellen Litman

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