Selected Poems with Postscript, 1907–1914


This volume is a collection of poems written in 1907–14 by the Russian futurist Velimir Khlebnikov (born Viktor Khlebnikov, 1885–1922). It includes Khlebnikov’s famous poem “Bobeobi,” in which the poet attributes colors to letters to create a portrait of a face. The book also contains a postscript with reflections on language, history, and numbers and their role in the cycles of history. Illustrations by Pavel Filonov and Kazimir Malevich are included. Khlebnikov was born in Astrakhan Province and lived most of his life in Kazan. He attended university in Kazan and later in Saint Petersburg but gave up academic pursuits to devote himself entirely to literature. In addition to his writing, Khlebnikov developed a life-long interest in numbers, mathematical tables, and calculations by which he tried to identify the laws governing the course of history and the fate of peoples. The late 19th–early 20th centuries became known as the Silver Age of Russian poetry, of which futurism, along with several other movements, was part. In 1912 a group of futurists that included Khlebnikov presented a manifesto, A Slap in the Face of Public Taste, which emphasized the need for poets to create a new language and to throw overboard from the “Ship of Modernity” Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and other classic authors and to proclaim the “self-sufficient word” as the core of a new aesthetic. World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917 energized Khlebnikov and influenced the content of his writing. However, his works did not conform to the standards set by the Soviet government and he fell into disfavor.

Last updated: March 7, 2014