Dr. Jamie Olson

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded Saint Martin’s University associate professor and dean of English Jamie Olson a Literature Translation Fellowship to support his translations of the works of contemporary Russian poet Timur Kibirov.

“This is a highly competitive program,” said Jeff Crane, dean of St. Martin’s College of Arts and Sciences, “and the award recognizes the valuable contribution he makes in translating Russian poetry and making it accessible to a broader audience.”

Beginning in November, Olson will receive a grant of $12,500 for the year to assist in translating Kibirov’s When Lenin Was a Little Boy: Selected Poems. Kibirov, who lives in Moscow, has penned more than 20 poetry collections. His many honors include the “Anti-Booker” award, a Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, and, in 2008, Russia’s prestigious “Poet” prize. Olson says Kibirov is viewed as a gadfly who seeks to tear down such secular Russian traditions as Marxism, nationalism and the literary canon. Despite the poet’s stature in Russia, his works are essentially unavailable in English.

“This collection will gather poems from across 30 years of his career,” Olson said. “In the late Soviet period, Kibirov was closely associated with underground poets like Lev Rubinstein, Dmitri Prigov, and Sergey Gandlevsky, and his work is often identified with postmodernism and conceptualism. Readers are drawn in by his playful reinterpretations of classic texts, including ancient myths, canonical literary works, Soviet ideology, and even scripture.”

Olson is a polished Russian translator. A member of the American Literary Translators Association, he has completed English-language versions of Russian texts including fiction by Dmitry Manin-Sibryak and poetry by Vyacheslav Kiktenko and Irina Yevsa. At Saint Martin’s, he teaches composition, contemporary poetry, post-colonial literature, exile and immigration, Russian literature and language and translation.

Learn more: 360-412-6126 | Olson’s blog