Regina Derieva

Regina Derieva

Regina Derieva (1949 – 2013) was a Russian poet and writer who published twenty books of poetry, essays and prose.

Derieva’s work has been translated into several languages, including English, Swedish, Arabic, French, and Italian. A compact disc with her readings in Russian of selected poems was issued in 1999. Derieva’s work has appeared in the Poetry magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry East, The Liberal, Ars Interpres, Salt Magazine, Quadrant, Notre Dame Review as well as in many Russian magazines.

Her most recent book of poems in English translation, The Sum Total of Violations, was released in 2009 by the UK-based Arc Publications.

For more information please visit:


I don’t feel at home where I am,
or where I spend time; only where,
beyond counting, there’s freedom and calm,
that is, waves, that is, space where, when there,

you consist of pure freedom, which, seen,
turns that Gorgon, the crowd, to stone,
to pebbles and sand . . . where life’s mean-
ing lies buried, that never let one

come within cannon shot yet.
From cloud-covered wells untold
pour color and light, a fete
of cupids and Ledas in gold.

That is, silk and honey and sheen.
That is, boon and quiver and call.
That is, all that lives to be free,
needing no words at all.

Regina Derieva
© Translation from Russian by Alan Shaw


Returning to the long summer,
the golden horizons of yore,
you gave your right name, which is
why you were not allowed across the threshold.

It was easier to traverse the horizon
easier for Apelles* to draw
a line. Only the nights remain
where ink is intoxicated on the goals.

Only rubbish remains,
that, alone of the monsters, lived here
without a shirt to its name
and never in its life having seen even a cent.

Only the wall remains, which is
twined all over with muscatel and other grapes,
not from Cyprus but from Crete,
like longing for a foreign land, hand-writing,

so it might fetch tears, curved,
like each letter and each slope.
Summer is a coal, and your mouth is charred,
like an orphan’s life under the law.

* Apelles of Kos (4th c. BC) was a famous painter.

Regina Derieva
© Translation from Russian by Daniel Weissbort


The sea casts up
what was described by you,
casts up everything,
flings it at your feet,
shards of life,
fragments of feelings,
a routine collection
of dreams and realia,
a display of canon fodder,
masked, mirrored
? la Venitienne.
Lenses, spray-murked forever?
yet still reflecting
the discovery of America.

Regina Derieva
© Translation from Russian by Daniel Weissbort


Only to walk to the sea of pines,
only to search for the golden fleece…
You can try to forget prison,
if the eye of the needle is handed to you.

One can try and stitch life and death with paces.
One can look through the needle’s eye and sing
something about the ripple and the firmament.

How good it is in the bitter water!
Examine it in profile and full face
through the opening of keen disaster
that has pierced us with exile.

Regina Derieva
© Translation from Russian by Richard McKane

Published with the permission of Regina Derieva