Evgeny Rein was born in Leningrad. His Dutch ancestors arrived in Russia from Poland in the nineteenth century, but it’s not known when they left the Low Countries. Rein’s father was an architect, his mother taught German. In 1971 he moved to Moscow, the birthplace of his wife, Nadia.
Rein studied to become an engineer, and worked as one for two years. He began writing poetry at the age of twelve, and has earned his living writing children’s books, journalism and film scripts.
He made the acquaintance of Anna Achmatova five years before her death. Joseph Brodsky, whom he befriended five years after the death of Stalin, called him his ‘teacher’. Brodsky said of him: ‘Rein is an elegiac poet, but his elegies are tragic ones. His main subject is the end of all things, or, in a broader sense, the end of a world order he holds dear, or at least accepts.’ In Brodsky’s view, Anna Achmatova’s maxim ‘Verse grows on garbage’ applies to Rein’s work: ‘This garbage contains everything, yes, everything, one comes into contact with, turns one’s back upon, or ignores. It not only consists of the physical experiences of sight, touch, scent and hearing, but also of the experience of what one has gone through, what one has had too much or too little of, of what one has accepted on trust and what one has forgotten; of what has been passed on to one and of what one knows from hearsay only; and of the experience of what one has read.’
Bloodaxe in Britain publishes a selection from his poems in English translation in the spring of 2001.
[Evgeny Rein took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]
Names of Bridges (1984), Stretch of Shore (1990), Mirror Darkness (1991), Counter-Clockwise (1991), Irreparable Day (1992), Prediction (1994), Balcony (1998).