Surviving the Censor
The Unspoken Words Of Osip Mandelstam
On May 13, 1934, Osip Mandelstam, one of the foremost Russian poet of the twentieth century, was arrested for creating and reciting a poem attacking Stalin. What made his act so noteworthy was that criticizing the regime at this time was simply unheard of. Artists either ceased to create or became state controlled puppets. The consequences for speaking out against a totalitarian regime would be four and a half years of persecution. Surviving the Censor-The Unspoken Words of Osip Mandelstam allows the reader to experience life through the eyes of Mandelstam and his wife, Nadezhda. As the events unfold they are also recorded by an anonymous prisoner from Stalin’s camps and a researcher who is delving into the life of Osip Mandelstam.
John Barton, the editor of the Malahat Review noted that Rafi Aaron’s prose poems “…are powerful, evocatively imagined works, rich in detail and intellectual resonance.” They are filled with lyricism and leaping imagery that go beyond the facts to convey the dark spirit of the times and illuminate those areas where little or no information exists.
Eight years ago Rafi Aaron embarked on a literary pilgrimage following the life and work of Osip Mandelstam. In October 2004 that journey took him to St. Petersburg Russia, where he delivered the Alexander Mackenzie Memorial Lecture.
For his work in this book Aaron received a ‘Works In Progress’ grant and two Writer’s Reserve grants from the Ontario Arts Council, a Canada Council grant, a scholarship to the Banff Centre for the Arts, and was a visiting writer at the Artist House in Herzeliya, Israel.