Happy Book Birthday to Holy Winter by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale! | Book*hug Press

Happy Book Birthday to Holy Winter by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale!

Happy Publication Day to Holy Winter by internationally acclaimed author Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale. This profoundly moving long poem, written from Stepanova’s dacha in the Russian countryside over the winter of 2020/2021, is perfect for fans of Sylvia Plath, Inger Christensen, and Anne Carson.

Maria Stepanova was a highly influential figure in Moscow’s cosmopolitan literary scene for many years until Putin strangled it, along with civil liberties and dissent. Written in a frenzy of poetic inspiration, Holy Winter speaks of winter and war, banishment and exile, social isolation and existential abandonment. Here, she masterfully interweaves confusing signals from the media and social networks, love letters, travelogues, and fairy tales, creating a polyphonic evocation of frozen time and its slow thawing.
Like Joseph Brodsky before her, Stepanova has mastered modern poetry’s rich repertoire of forms, moving effortlessly between the traditions of Russian, European, and transatlantic literature. Stepanova’s is a potent and vital voice like no other.
In 2020, we had the privilege of publishing Stepanova’s genre-transcending family saga, In Memory of Memory, a finalist for the prestigious International Booker Prize and recognized by numerous other awards. In 2023, Stepanova was awarded the Berman Literature Prize for In Memory of Memory, an international prize given to an author whose work explores the rich Jewish culture while ‘exceeding times and cultures,’ thereby striving for the universally human. 

Poetry Magazine has called Stepanova Russia’s most important living poet whose writing echoes Pushkin, Lermontov, Mandelstam, and Tsvetaeva. As a prominent critic of Putin’s regime, Stepanova had to leave Russia after it invaded Ukraine and is now living with her family in exile in Europe.

Praise for Holy Winter

“In the manner of the Baroque poets, heirs to Ovid too, Maria Stepanova creates a continuous flowing poetics of brilliance and beauty in Holy Winter. The effect is that of a kaleidoscopic collage, made of moving parts that deftly merge the lyrical and historical, making the whole reverberate with sounds and images. The inside is the outside in this icy, claustrophobic world; the existential questions posed by Stepanova go unanswered. Yet there are glimmers of light that shine through the cracks in the ice, the promise of sweetness as ‘Foreign words melt in the cheek / Like sugar cubes’ to lift us out of our collective dark night of the soul.”
Beatriz Hausner, author of She Who Lies Above

“Like a heavy Russian snowfall, Maria Stepanova’s Holy Winter seems to cover everything: survival, dreams, and the anger of the gods. Heavy, but also bright: the brilliance of fresh-fallen snow under clear and boundlessly bright skies. But Stepanova’s dazzling long poem—adroitly ranging across historic borders and lyric traditions—is more than a paean to winter, it is also the promise of a coming spring, the buried but inevitable renewal of what must be. Rendered skilfully for English readers in Sasha Dugdale’s fluent translation, Holy Winter is an essential book for our time, burning with wonder and smouldering with dissent.”
—Paul Vermeersch, author of Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020

Beautifully designed by Malcolm Sutton, Holy Winter is available now. ✨

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