James McGavran's new translation of Vladimir Mayakovsky's poetry is the first to fully capture the Futurist and Soviet agitprop artist's voice. Because of his work as a propagandist for the Soviet regime, and because of his posthumous enshrinement by Stalin as "the best and most talented poet of our Soviet epoch," Mayakovsky has most often been interpreted-and translated-within a political context. McGavran's translations reveal a more nuanced poet who possessed a passion for word creation and linguistic manipulation. Mayakovsky's bombastic metaphors and formal elan shine through in these translations, and McGavran's commentary provides vital information on Mayakovsky, illuminating the poet's many references to the Russian literary canon, his contemporaries in art and culture, and Soviet figures and policies.
Vladmir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), one of Russia's greatest twentieth-century writers, was a Futurist, early Bolshevik, and champion of the avant-garde. James H. McGavran III is a visiting assistant professor of Russian at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, USA.