This chapter explores how we might reconcile the abstractions of language, culture, and history with a particular text and person. The chapter addresses the question through Russian poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko’s correspondence and collaboration with US poet Lyn Hejinian between 1983 and the early 1990s. Read through Cold War binaries, Dragomoshchenko’s poems from this period have been taken as either a window on late-Soviet culture and its difference from the West or as singularly resistant to interpretation. Dragomoshchenko and Hejinian’s hitherto unstudied one-thousand-page correspondence offers another way to understand their collaboration. Their joint project, “The Corresponding Sky,” stresses the singular address of letter writing and the invocation and negation of correspondence between language and the world that derives from Charles Baudelaire’s “Correspondances.” Taken together, Dragomoshchenko’s correspondences resist the binaries that have constrained readings of his work and suggest the importance of interpersonal cross-cultural encounters to understanding a moment of world-historic change.
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