Nikolai Zvyagintsev


Program Bio
September 2008: Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Washington DC
Back to More Open World Past Participants in Literature

Nikolai Zvyagintsev is a poet. He writes:

I was born in 1967 near Moscow in the same place as the Gorkov Railroad, of Benedict Yerofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line . . .  From my early childhood, I lived in Moscow. After finishing high school, I entered the Moscow Institute of Architecture. After two years there, I was called into the Army. I served in a city in Ukraine—a former Jewish shtetl—where, I came to find out, some things had happened that exactly matched the story of Schindler’s List. After the army I finished school, and worked for several years as a restoration architect for historical monuments. It so happened that I worked on country estates connected with old Russian poets, writers, and painters: Pushkin Hills, Vuranovo, Abramtsevo, Spasskoye-Lutovinovo. Then I changed my profession, and for the past fourteen years, I have been working in advertising. Now, as the senior art-director in the Moscow office of an international ad agency, I develop advertising campaigns for large Russian and foreign brands.

Beginning in the 1990s I became part of the poetic group Peninsula (Poluostrov). I was first published in 1991, in the newspaper The Russian Courier (Russkaya Kurier); since then I have had many publications in various newspapers, journals, collections, and anthologies. I am the author of four books of poems, including The Spine that Drank from the Puddle (Spinka pyushyevo iz luzhi), and The Legal Terrain of Hypocrisy (Zakonnaya Oblast Pretvorstva). My poems have been translated into English (Essays in Poetics, 1994; translator Robert Reid], French, and Ukrainian.

Recently I have been actively participating in poetry festivals around Russia and in nearby countries. I often present my work at various Moscow venues, alone and as part of larger literary evenings. In presenting, I love to marry tradition and experiment (last year I participated in the Moscow slam and won in one of preliminary rounds).

I love to travel. I draw. I collect figurines and pictures of badgers.

Career Updates

  • Zvyagintsev was shortlisted for the 2008 "Andrei Beliy" Award for his collection of poems, TootsMore, in Russian.