Meat Breathing Through Plastic Wrap

I wasn’t properly prepared for the fourth film in our Slavic and East European series with the Ryder and REEI. (I wrote about the first three, Murina, EO, and The Other Side of Everything here, here, and here.) There’s a good reason for this, which I’ll get to shortly. The slices of meat squirming across… Continue reading Meat Breathing Through Plastic Wrap

Rytkheu Panel Next Week

I’ll be participating in a roundtable next week (March 22, 1:30pm EDT; 5:30pm GMT & 6:30pm CET) devoted to the work of Chukchi author Yuri Rytkheu. The virtual event, organized by the Russian and East European Institute as part of a series on indigenous and under-represented writers from Russian-speaking spaces, will be hosted by my… Continue reading Rytkheu Panel Next Week

Oh Say Can You

After a test run and some mixing tweaks, Ba.Ren.Chi’s “Oh Say Can You” is now live on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music Streaming, and some other platforms I don’t remember, with YouTube Music on its way. Teco Apple, Improvisando Radio, and Sword Radio in the UK have promised some shares and broadcasts… Continue reading Oh Say Can You

Polishing the Keys to the Future: The Other Side of Everything

By contrast to the first two films in our Slavic and East European series with the Ryder and REEI, Murina and EO (which I wrote about here and here), there is never any doubt about where we find ourselves in Mila Turajlić’s 2018 documentary The Other Side of Everything. Almost all the action takes place… Continue reading Polishing the Keys to the Future: The Other Side of Everything

Teaching Poetry Translation

Here’s an assignment I’ve adapted over the years. It takes a lot of “scaffolding,” meaning reading and discussion of different approaches, with examples. In the past, I didn’t do enough of that. This time, too, I feel like we could have done more, but the class is not just on poetry translation, it’s on translation… Continue reading Teaching Poetry Translation

EO and The Golden Ass

I initially thought Jerzy Skolimovski’s 2022 feature EO, which IU’s Slavic department and REEI sponsored for a Ryder screening as part of its spring semester film series last Sunday, was very complex in terms of its composition. Probably this is because it uses some rather aggressive editing at the start, especially with the pulsing red… Continue reading EO and The Golden Ass


The Indiana Slavic department is co-sponsoring a series of films with the Ryder and our colleagues at REEI over the next several weeks. Yesterday was the 2021 film Murina, which we have on our list as a Croatian film though it is really an international co-production (executive produced by Martin Scorsese) with a good deal… Continue reading Murina

Si Lalo Si

Ba Ren Chi recently topped 10,000 listens on Jamendo, and of the two pieces way out in front, this old tribute to the great Lalo Schifrin, which I gave the title “Lalo Si” when I wrote it around 1997, keeps tempting me to go back and tinker. The piano still sounds good, but there are… Continue reading Si Lalo Si

Life of Ivanna

The most ironic aspect of the 2021 documentary Life of Ivanna is Ivanna’s dream of having her own place, which actually pushes the film along its main trajectory. This claim requires a little context. Ivanna is a twenty-six-year-old Nenets mother of five living, at the beginning of the film, on the Taimyr Peninsula in the… Continue reading Life of Ivanna

Grand Inquisitors

Excerpting Dostoevsky’s “Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” for my Introduction to Russian Culture (lower level general education class), I find two relatively recent translations available online in a reasonable format for class. One is the Pevear and Volokhonsky version, which provides the whole chapter, the other a slightly condensed version of David McDuff’s 1993 translation… Continue reading Grand Inquisitors