Russia: Poetry Underground

In Russia, no poet need starve if he can hack out odes extolling "socially useful" goals. In revolt against sloganeering paeans that read like Pravda set to rhyme, hundreds of Soviet writers privately turn out poems about lovemaking, maladjustment, and other concerns of the soul neglected by seven-year plans. They call such extracurricular outpourings "poetry for the desk drawer," because it is unproletarian and unpublishable. Yet one of the most revealing aspects of Russian evolution since Stalin has been the growth of the desk drawer.

There seems to be a vast and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!