Russian poet Mikhail Kuzmin’s (1872–1936) first poetry collection “Tīkli” / “Сети” (Nets) (1908) made him one of the central figures of the modern literary environment of his time, providing him with a permanent place in the pantheon of Russian literature of the Silver Age.
Most of its almost 100 poems has been translated by Einārs Pelšs, but also includes several translations by Kārlis Vērdiņš. The book is supplemented by a foreword of the poet and literary historian Dmitry Kuzmin.
Mikhail Kuzmin, one of the most mysterious poets of the Silver Age and Russian master of the ver libra, was born into a family of nobles in Yaroslavl. In 1884, with his family, he moved to St. Petersburg, where, after finishing a gymnasium, he studied composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory for five years, with Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, one of the most outstanding composers of that time. Thus, Kuzmin became a musician, mostly performing his own songs, but his literary talent gradually gained over. His debut in the 1904 almanac of beginning poets was noticed by Russian modernist poet Valery Bryusov, and two years later, Russia’s leading literary magazine Весы (The Scales) published both the scandalous long story “Wings” (Крылья, 1906), for the first time in Russian literature so openly describing homoerotic passion, and part of the series of poems “Alexandria Songs”, which was later included in the collection “Nets”.
“For the contemporaries, the main feature of the “Nets” seemed to be the subtlety of exoticision. […] Russian poetry at the beginning of the century practiced a wide range of different types of escapism, and turning to distant lands and ages was so common, however Kuzmin gave it completely individual features. Ancient times and the French Gallant century he depicts as cosy and private – with all the distance of time and geography the poet’s attention focuses not on King Esarhaddon as it was for Bryusov, or Conquistador as for Gumilyov, but on an ordinary man with his simple joys, and first of all – a man in love. ”
The bilingual Velvet Series which already includes selected poetry by Angelus Silezius, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare, Joseph Brodsky, Walt Whitman, Jacques Prévert, Jānis Rokpelnis, W.B. Yeats, Nikolay Gumilyov, Juan Ramón Jiménez, E. E. Cummings, Semyon Khanin and Emily Dickinson.