Polina Barskova was born in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg). She started publishing her work at the age of nine, and her first book appeared when she was still a teenager. At the age of 20, she left Russia to pursue a PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, where she is now a professor of Russian literature. Barskova’s poetry has won her wide recognition as one of the best poets of her generation; her collection of creative nonfiction, Living Pictures, received the Andrey Bely Prize in 2015 and is forthcoming in German with Suhrkamp Verlag and in English with NYRB. She has been shortlisted for Russian prizes including the Debut, and has published numerous collections in Russian. Her work has also appeared in English language anthologies such as The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Harper Collins, 2010), co-edited by Ilya Kaminsky, who also translated a short volume of her poems, This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press, 2010). Several other books of her work have appeared in English translation: The Zoo in Winter (Melville House, 2011), Relocations: Three Contemporary Russian Women Poets (Zephyr Press, 2013), Air Raid, translated by Valzyhna Mort (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021), and Living Pictures (NYRB, 2022). Editors Boris Dralyuk and David Stromberg describe Barskova’s work as “passionate and analytical, rapturous and cool, profoundly serious and daringly flippant.”
She has done extensive archival work on the literature of the siege of Leningrad, resulting in the award-winning volume Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016). Her book, Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster, appeared from Northern Illinois University Press in 2017. Her scholarly publications include articles on Nabokov, the Bakhtin brothers, early Soviet film, and the aestheticization of historical trauma.