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The Human Soul Cannot Imagine Itself without Poetry and Music
On May 28, 2023, there was an evening of music and poetry at which the results of the STOU Translation Contest, organized by the International Projects Department as part of the activities of the International Friendship Club, were summed up. Submissions had been accepted from March 7–April 30, 2023.

The honorary university jury was represented by Oleg Skliarov, Professor of Slavic Philology; Archpriest Pavel Khondzinsky, Chair of Practical Theology; Nataliia Golovnina, Deputy Chair for Eastern Christian Philology and the Eastern Churches; Vladimir Makarov, Assistant Professor of Romance and Germanic Languages; Kseniia Aleksandrova, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Romance and Germanic Languages; Mamdukh Zerikli, Professor for Eastern Christian Philology and the Eastern Churches; Katerina Corbella, Professor of Romance and Germanic Languages. The jury reviewed 26 translations submitted by students, alumni, faculty and clergymen from STOU as well as students and teachers from the Higher School of Economics, Moscow State University of Education, Moscow Theological Academy and Saint Petersburg Theological Academy.

Translations of poetic texts by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George Gordon Byron, Joseph Addison, Dorothy Parker, Edith M. Thomas, Joy Ladin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Erich Maria Remarque, Charles d’Orleans, Jean Racine, Paul Verlaine, Carl Norac, George the Pisidian, Abu Al-Amiri and other authors were submitted to the jury.

The members of the jury evaluated the quality of the translations from the point of view of the foreign language and the quality of the poetic text in Russian. According to these criteria, two categories were defined: winners and nominees for the best translation from a foreign language.

Among the nominees, first place was awarded to Elena Ovchinnikova, a student of the Faculty of Church Arts, for her translation of Edith M. Thomas’ “What the Pine Trees Said”.

Second place was awarded to Priest Aleksei Chernyi, Associate Professor in the Department of Practical Theology, for his translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Herbsttag” (“Autumn Day”).

Third place went to Moscow Theological Academy teacher Sergii Kim, for his translation of Rilke’s poem “Und sagen sie das Leben sei ein Traum…” (“And they say life is a dream…”).

The nominees were recognized for the high quality of their translations. Here follows a list of the nominees:

Best translation from English: Georgii Zalygin, student of the Institute of Philosophy, STOU. Excerpt from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again”.

Best translation from German: Vladimir Dobrotvorskii, graduate student, Saint Petersburg Theological Academy. Rainer Maria Rilke, “Einsamkeit” (poem).

Best translation from Latin: Hierodeacon Gregorii Trofimov, department assistant, Moscow Theological Academy. Gregory the Great, “In Passione Domini”.

Best translation from French: Aleksei Bychkov, graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, STOU. Charles d'Orleans, “Le temps a laissé son manteau...”

Best translation from Greek: Maria Kolesnikova, student, Faculty of Theology, STOU. George the Pisidian, “On the Avar Siege” (poem).

Best translation from Syriac: Elizaveta Dmitrieva, student, Faculty of Theology, STOU. Anonymous sogita “On Abraham and Isaac”.

The evening was accompanied by music by Scriabin, Debussy, Bach and Schubert performed by our students. We express special thanks to choral school student Ekaterina Ivleva (A. Scriabin, Preludes 4 and 6, Opus 11; Johann Sebastian Bach, Allemande from the French Suite in C Minor); Anastasia Kuleshova, a student of the Faculty of Church Singing (Debussy, Feux d'artifice); and Aleksei Vorobiov, a student of the Faculty of History and Philology (Schubert, Impromptus).

The winners and nominees received certificates for the Chitai-Gorod store for various amounts and diplomas from the organizers of the competition.

At the end of the evening, the guests enjoyed a festive buffet.

The first of its kind contest received positive feedback from the jury and participants. Here are a few comments:

Archpriest Pavel Khondzinsky: “The endeavor in itself is wonderful, and it is gratifying that it was in demand in the ‘outside’ world.”

Hierodeacon Gregorii Trofimov: “‘A golden measure of festivity and scholarship’ – these are the words I would briefly describe the wonderful STOU event in which I had the opportunity to participate – a musical and poetic evening based on the results of the first Poetry Translation Contest. The organizers were able, in spite of the light and relaxed character of the event, to preserve the deep semantic content, an awareness of the seriousness and importance of the work that brought the participants together, a careful and attentive attitude to the Eastern Christian and European culture, expressed in the word, and specifically the poetic word. Such meetings, although they do not entail a subsequent scholarly result in the form of conference proceedings, etc., are nevertheless quite useful for scholarly work in the strict sense of the word, inspiring examples of a sincere and lively approach to the cause. Many thanks to the organizers and hosts for the witty and well-thought-out script, to the jury for the hard work of checking and writing reviews, and to all the participants for their receptivity and concern for the art of translation”.

Georgy Zalygin: “I had a very good impression. I liked the atmosphere of the evening. The musical interludes were very good; there were wonderful performances of classical music. The buffet was also interesting...”.

Photo credit: Snezhana Fomenko