lesbian pulp and the lavender universe: 1914 Russian lesbian poet... a way with words and a way with women

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

1914 Russian lesbian poet... a way with words and a way with women

Poet Sophia Parnok

"How often her mysterious gaze 
has hovered over 
my soul 
with powerful inquisitiveness"

Sophia Parnok was a Russian lesbian poet born in 1885. She was the only openly lesbian voice in Russian poetry during her time; and many feel her unique contribution to modern Russian lyricism has been overlooked.

At 29 years old, she fell in love with 20 year old poet Marina Tsvetaeva during which time Parnok published her first book of verse, "Poems."

Marina Tsvetaeva
In 1917, Parnok then became lovers with actress Erarskaya Lyudmila, and the two moved from Moscow to the Crimean town of Sudak. Below is Sophia Parnok and Erarskaya Lyudmila on the Veranda of the Gertsyks House in Sudak, Crimea, September 1918.

Parnok (sitting) and Erarskaya (standing)
During her lifetime, Sophia Parnok published five volumes of poetry and the libretto to the opera Almast. By 1928, the Soviets had decided her poetry was unlawful, and she was unable to publish after that. Five years earlier, Parnok at age 38 met her long term partner Olga Tsuberbiller and the two of them lived together nearly a decade until Parnok’s death.

Only in dreams, with a broken off moan,
so as not to die in her sleep,
on such a mellifluous wave,
above this sky-blue drowning,
her whole chest heaving freely
with breath, my soul is bobbing.
--From Dreams, May 1924

Sophia Parnok (l) and Olga Tsuberbiller (r) 
Although Parnok remained living with Olga, the last two years of her life (1931-1933) Parnok fell deeply in love with physicist Nina Vedeneyeva. Below is a verse of a poem written when Parnok and last love Nina Vedeneyeva met.

Where’s the cottage with jasmine and the welcoming night,
and curlicue arches of hop-plants above us,
and thirst which could no longer be satisfied,
and sky, and a sky more impassioned than Petrarch’s.
At the end of my last or next-to-last spring –
together the two of us dreamed crazy dreams,
I burn up my night in a savage, a beautiful fire.
--Dec 1931 

A memorial plaque dedicated to the Parnok family was placed on the wall of their birth house in Taganrog in 2012.

Birth house of Sophia Parnok

Don't forget The Rainbow BookFair on March 29, 2014!

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