Vladimir Azarov. 120 pages - $16.95

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Few moments, certainly few speeches, in the Twentieth Century so radically altered the flow of international events and specifically the direction of Russian history as Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 attack on the cult of Joseph Stalin. Overnight, a society under the lock and key of ideology and the eye of a secret police, was sprung loose, entering into a period that has since come to be known as The Thaw. Suddenly, citizens like the young Moscow architect, Vladimir Azarov, were free to read banned Russian writers like Solzhenitsyn, they were free to attend concerts by stars like Marlene Dietrich, they were free not only to go to Berlin, but on to Paris. Azarov has written 26 monologues, each devoted to recollecting a sunburst moment of freedom of awareness, moments of awareness when millions of people were suddenly coming in from the great cold of Stalin’s years of terror.

A perspective: Broken Pastries begins in the cold March of Vladimir Azarov’s childhood in Kazakhstan, living with his exiled parents. The radio plays mournful music: Stalin is dead. Then comes Khrushchev’s Thaw, and young Vladimir thinks: is this change all around like Manna pouring down on our Soviet heads? Coming to Canada decades later, Azarov reads the book Hogg: The Seven Last Words and is struck by the following stanza: "Manna was the pure white, sweet-tasting excrement that certain desert insects left on the foliage during the night, insect shit, sweet to the tongue..." In these poems about the Soviet regime Azarov finds inspiration in a shared awareness of what it was like to live in such times, and so has found a language to finally describe that time from his youth. Vladimir Azarov lives in Toronto.

Vladimir Azarov is an architect and poet, formerly from Moscow, who lives in Toronto. His books include Broken Pastries, Seven Lives, Territories, Mongolian Etudes, Night Out, Dinner With Catherine the Great, Of Life and Other Small Sacrifices, Imitation, The Kiss from Mary Pickford: Cinematic Poems, Voices in Dialogue: Dramatic Poems.


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