My 2023 was anything but uneventful. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of finishing school and the 20th anniversary of graduating from the Moscow State University. It was also the 25th anniversary of my first print publication in a newspaper for the grown-ups.
I took part in many events, including conferences, networkings, public poetry recitals. I took several excursions to my favourite Moscow district, and I rode in a cable car!
I made many new friends and I haven’t lost any – the consequence of living the life on my terms and not conceding on my values because this or that person seems important. I am important, full stop.
I published my long story, a collection of sonnets, and a new edition of my English-language poetry collection.
And I had a plenty of walks, launched my own educational community, and started a Christmas Calendar on subscription.
I’m grateful to 2022 for putting many things right and forcing us to see the forest for the trees and to separate the wheat from the chaff. Russia has become bigger, and we as a nation have become stronger and more united.
I hope we all take lessons from 2022 and ensure that we navigate through 2023 with more confidence and faith.
Here’s to the New Year! S Novym Godom!
As per this blog’s tradition, some Soviet postcards.
The Christmas tree decorations stir imagination and produce the spell-binding effect on children and adults alike. In my childhood we used to set the tree on the last day of December. In fact, everything was happening on December 31st: cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, decorating, eating, naturally. At my age I can hardly believe I could do the same kind of marathon now. So I prefer to do my shopping and decorating before December 30th.
I’m still bouncing after yesterday, and I’m excited about the new developments. I had 3 classes today, and I’m all but ready for the new year 2023. I haven’t decorated the room yet, which I’m going to do, of course. But I’ve got something magical instead that you see below.
I spent today at the ArtPlay creative quarter in Moscow. I had a fantastic photo session in a studio with a photographer. ArtPlay itself is a fantastic place and I hope to have more time to explore it. A brief acquaintance has shown that it’s located in the premises of a former factory and is packed with all sorts of shops, studios, boutiques, and cafés.
This part of town is virtually unknown to me. I followed the YouTube video showing the way to the studio, and on my way I passed the 19th century buildings that could previously house residences but are now usually home to civil service offices. Alas, it was also quite slippery, so I had to take extra care going there and back.
Going to ArtPlay was like visiting Manchester to me. Made of red brick and located close to the railway station, with its plethora of various studios and outlets, it was like an open-air Affleck’s Palace, and all murals and witty inscriptions reminded me of the Northern Quarter. Throw all the Christmassy lights in – and the déjà-vu feeling was almost palpable. More still, the folk who worked there were like the good old Mancunians, complete with green or pink coloured hair, tattoos and piercings, odd clothes and accessories, and the obvious struggle to make ends meet.
I watched it all from both sides: as a person who once belonged to this kind of place and life (except hair dyes, tattoos and piercing) and who now felt transported back into this old experience; and as a person who no longer belonged there, and probably never did, but who had once made an honest effort to live there.
Suddenly ArtPlay came to mean much more than just a clever name…
It wasn’t a particularly eventful day by any account. I spent it giving final lessons to some of the students whom I will see in January 2023.
But I was preparing to something more exciting, which I haven’t done for a long while. I have drawn a list of things I need to do and to take with me, and I’m looking forward to this not-so-new experience on Wednesday.
I spent Christmas Day on December 25th walking around Moscow. My friend and I rambled the streets in the city centre that had been decorated almost as lavishly as before. This year the Muscovites voted for decorating the city but against other kinds of festivities. We walked past the Moscow Mayor’s house and the Bolshoi Theatre and stopped at a nice cafe in Marosseika St. Then we went past Zaryadye Park and St Basil’s Cathedral and GUM to the metro and so went home.
Christmas Day has arrived, and I want all of you who celebrate it today to have a very warm-hearted season. Please keep close to your near and dear, support each other, yet do not forget to take care of yourself. And remember: there is always an angel, like the ones at the top of this magnificent and splendid Xmas tree. Try believing in them and see what miracles happen!
As I’m narrating a Christmas story on the mentioned Telegram channel, I vividly realise what importance the story of Nativity had for the people of the past. Their world was indeed reborn and had a new chance. So moved were they by the story of God coming to this world that they tried to reimagine it in detail. St Birgitta envisioned Our Lady miraculously giving birth, and St Francis of Assisi reproduced the manger which he saw in Bethlehem during his voyage with the Crusaders, giving the start to the tradition of presepe, or crib. The “Golden Legend” and various other literary works wanted to break through the time and space – and indeed the legendary ambiguities – to reconstruct the life of the most important characters of the New Testament beyond what was known about them.
And whereas the centuries since the 18th did much to deconstruct the above in order to demonstrate the “truth” and to denounce the past affection for “romance” and “lies”, what they have generally failed to do is to discover another source of inspiration that would be just as potent as this Christian legend. These critics mocked the story of the Good coming on Earth but they couldn’t invent another Good.
And so please accept my greetings on the Day of Our Saviour coming to this life. God bless us all.
Yesterday we celebrated the victory of Argentina at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. I also attended a meeting with my colleagues when we drew a line to our 3-month course together. It was a great evening, and I started the penultimate week of the year 2022 in an excellent mood.
I also dedicated some time to erasing and closing some projects I never even got to begin. I spent the whopping five hours writing them all down and another half hour burning them, but in the end I experienced a great surge of energy! And hence I chose to post a purple Xmas tree as a symbol of connection to Logos which should now be easier.
Christmas Calendar is a Telegram channel dedicated to celebration of Nativity of Jesus and other winter festivals in arts throughout history
This year I decided to venture to pastures new: to hold my (nearly) annual Christmas in Arts series in a private channel in Telegram, renamed as Christmas Calendar. And so as of December 1st, that is, for over 2 weeks now, I’ve narrating the story of Nativity and Christmas celebrations in arts. Best of all, I’m doing this in collaboration with my former student and a good friend, a musicologist Gleb Konkin.
We have gone over the pictorial story of Nativity, watched The Gospel of Matthew by P.P. Pasolini and the Russian and Italian versions of La Freccia Azzurra, and listened to W. Bird, B. Britten, J. Schutze, and J.S. Bach. We watched the stained glass of the Chartres Cathedral and that of some English churches, notably of Birmingham, where the glass was made by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. And recently, we have revisited the aristocratic traditions of celebrating Christmastide that started on December 25th and ended on January 5th with the Twelfth Night, commemorated by W. Shakespeare. Incidentally, the latest post was on the Russian screen adaptations of this fantastic Christmassy play.
If you know some Russian or can automatically translate the posts, you can join our online festival from wherever you are. There are two tariffs, the cheapest lasts a week, for the full one Christmas will become a “movable feast”, as you will be able to get back to it whenever you want.