The Concentration of Cultural Meaning
This review considers a joint work written by two scholars representing the Belarusian and Russian philological schools which studies issues of the theory and history of books of poetry. The subject of the study allows the authors to consider both elitist poetry and the phenomenon of mass poetry, combine the achievements of academic literary criticism with observations of literary criticism, analyse the tendencies characteristic of various aesthetic and artistic systems, and explore the dialectics of traditions and innovation. According to the book under review, a poetry book is an element of cultural space, and since it is part of the processes of directed institutionalisation, it is functionally addressed to both the author and the reader. The introductory chapter of the study is devoted to the theory of a poetry book as a complex super-genre unity. The three main chapters focus on the contemporary poetic situation. They consider the structural features of books of poetry, their role in their authors’ creative biographies, and describe a number of sociocultural functions, most particularly the formation of regional or generational identity, interethnic cooperation, and the coexistence of social analytics and individual mythmaking. Additionally, the authors also consider components included into poetry books from “non-books” and mass culture such as the Internet, CDs, and objects of social and pop art. The modern poetic situation in Russia and Belarus is defined as one full of artistic discoveries, as new sociocultural circumstances generate new poetic strategies, new genre formations, a transformation of the basic foundations of the rhythmic organisation of verses, and poetic vocabulary. The author concludes that the study of the peculiarities of modern Russian and Belarusian poetry in the dominant form of a poetry book substantially enriches knowledge of the basic tendencies of contemporary literature as a whole.