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Bakhyt Kenzjejev

Bakhyt Kenzjejev

Bakhyt Kenzjejev

(Kazakhstan, 1950)
Bakhyt Shkurullaevich Kenzjejev (also spelled Kenjeev) was born on 2 August 1950 in Chimkent (Kazakhstan). His family moved to Moscow when he was three. In 1982, he emigrated to Canada, and he currently lives alternately in Montreal, New York and Moscow. He works as an interpreter and translator for the IMF and other organisations.
Kenzjejev, a chemistry graduate, began publishing his poems in magazines from 1972 onwards. His work was first included in book form in the anthology The Lenin Hills, Poems by Students of the Moscow State University. Along with Tsvetkov, Soprovski and Gandlevski, he founded a group of poets, Moscow Time, in the early 1970s. His collections include Autumn in America (1984), Starcrafter (1997), Girl from the Morning Dream (2000), Invisible (2004) and Serf from Icy Places (2008). He has also written a trilogy, Whores and Publicans. He has won a number of prizes, among them the Anti-Booker prize in 2000 for Girl from the Morning Dream. Kenzjejev has also written poems in English, including the cycle Angels.

Bakhyt Kenzjejev’s work is usually described as ‘traditional’, a view that is, however, hardly accurate. While he mainly dons the straightjacket of the Russian school, with rhyme and metre as its mainstays, he is a free spirit with regard to content. He is willing to write “about anything”, with his range far transcending the limits of form. In this sense, he is anything but ‘traditional’ – he is simply a craftsman who can turn his hand to everything. At his best, Kenzjejev is a narrative poet, viewing every side of an event and revealing it in dazzling fashion.

In a 2007 interview with Sandzjar Janysjev, he said, “You are sitting doing nothing and suddenly a line shows up . . . You remember it. Other lines cluster round it. Or else you forget them. Something like this always occurs unexpectedly. And you always get that feeling of total happiness that you’ve experienced it again . . . Art is of course a mystical business. Sometimes of course that’s not true, when it’s a matter of those colourful novels that fill the shelves in bookstores. Contrary to the prevailing opinion, Coelho or Murakami is not literature at all. As Ilf and Petrov wrote, their work is just one of the hundred comparatively honest – and anything but mystical – ways of getting people to spend their money. Somewhere in one of my poems I quote Nabokov, ‘our life is the underneath side of a carpet.’ We don’t see the pattern, only the stitches. But there is a pattern there and it is a splendid one. And we can hazard a guess at it.”
© Arie van der Ent (Translated by Donald Gardner)


Iz semi knig. Nezavisimaja gazeta (selected poems from seven volumes), Moscow, 2000
Stichi poslednich let (1988–1991) (selected poems), Moscow, 1992
Snjasjtsjajasja pod oetro (Girl from the Morning Dream), OGI, Moscow, 2000
Krepostnoi ostyvayushchikh mest (Serf of Icy Places), Roebezj, Vladivostok, 2008
Nazvaniya net (Untitled), Iskander, Almaty, 2005
Nevidimye (Invisible), OGI, Moscow, 2004
Sochinitel zvezd (Starcrafter), Poesjkinski fond, Saint Petersburg, 2001
Poslaniya (Messages), Iskander, Almaty, 2006
Poslaniya (Messages), Vremya, Moscow, 2011
Vdali mertsaet gorod Galitsj, stichotvorenija maljtsjika Teodora (In the distance shimmers the city of Galich, poems by the lad Theodore), ARGO-RISK, Moscow, 2006


Mladsjij brat (Youngest Brother), Oktjabr, Moscow, 1992
Mytari i bloednitsy; Plato (Whores and Publicans; Plato), 1992
Ivan Bezoeglov (1993)
Portret choedozjnika v joenosti (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), 1995
Zoloto goblinov (The Gold of Tapestries), 2000

All of these works can be read and downloaded at: www.bakhyt.narod.ru and pages.videotron.com/bakhyt. See also: www.youtube.com.
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Gefinancierd door de Europese Unie
Elise Mathilde Fonds
Stichting Verzameling van Wijngaarden-Boot
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère