SEVEN LIVES - Almost everything can be taken from an individual, but his or her story
Vladimir Azarov. 120 pages - $16.95

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Vladimir Azarov grew up and came to maturity during a time in the Soviet Union when penal camps and the secret police were ubiquitous, but the one great truth that he and the world learned from all the great Russian writers, and that he learned in his own life in political exile, is that almost everything can be taken from an individual but his or her story, his or her undying and unyielding sense of self. No matter what, the self perseveres, even in the most perverse and punishing circumstances. And sometimes even with a sense of humour, a sense of the ludicrous amidst pain and deprivation. Azarov, in his own plainspoken voice, has composed seven stories about seven lives that are marvellously moving in their seeming simplicity, their actual depth.

A perspective: Seven Lives is Vladimir Azarov’s childhood experiences of Soviet life transformed into a poetic witnessing. Growing up in Kazakstan, it was hidden from him that his family was in political exile. This gave him an unrealistic optimism which helped him to overcome many of the challenges of his life at the time and to find his own way in that artificial world. "One must dare to be happy" – says Azarov of this perceived blindness; it became his life’s philosophy. His ability to bring immediacy of experience and the poignancy of loss into the reader’s current imagination in bittersweet poetic renderings often makes the listener or reader wait on the edge of his or her own imagination for the next turn of the story.

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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