Sophia Parnok

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Dubbed “Russia’s Sappho” by one of her biographers, Sophia Parnok was – as implied – both a lesbian and a poet. Her first book of verse, Poems, was among the first in Russia to deal with female homosexual relationships. As she moved between lovers she published further volumes, including the libretto and poetry for Armenian composer Alexander Spendiaryan‘s opera Almast. When Soviet censors barred her from further publications she was forced to turn to translation work to pay the bills, though she still composed her poetry in secret. After her death by heart attack she was memorialized in a plaque her hometown erected for her and two other members of her family.

Translations of several of Parnok’s poems are available here.

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