some of the scraps onto which she wrote her poetry in prison

Irina Ratushinskaya was an inspiration. I’ve mentioned her here before, having had a fluke encounter in a bookshop. She proved remarkably resilient in the most appalling circumstances, a Soviet labour camp.

Her crime? Poetry.

It’s terrifying that some today might be nostalgic for an ideology and a system that could imprison millions in the Gulag. But Ratushinskaya outlived both her imprisonment and the entire system.


Irina Ratushinskaya
The Barashevo camp from the air

Following up:

  • Irina Ratushinskaya on Wiki
  • Her Obit in the Guardian, written by the Keston Institute’s Michael Bordeaux
  • Her poems (all taken from Pencil Letter)
    • So tomorrow, our little ship Small Zone (Small Zone, 18 Sep 1983)
    • To my unknown friend (Small Zone, 26 Feb 1984)
    • I will live and survive (Labour Camp hospital, 30 Nov 1983)
    • If sleep doesn’t come (PKT, October 1984)
    • Rooks (Potmin Transit Prison, 30 Oct 1984)
    • Somewhere a pendulum moves (PKT, Sept 1985)

None of these appear to be online, but If I have a moment, I’ll type them up.

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