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Alumna Wins Prestigious Fellowship and Residency for Russian Translation

Alumna Helena Kernan

We are delighted to announced that our alumna Helena Kernan has won the prestigious fellowship and residency for Russian translation, awarded by London's Pushkin House. Helena was an undergraduate here from 2012-2016, studying ab initio language. Helena will have a 'translation residency' in Oxford, together with the poet Galina Rymbu, whose work she will be translating. This is the first Pushkin House award of this kind.

Helena spent three years in Moscow and Kyiv following her graduation from Cambridge; she has just begun a PhD programme at the University of California in Berkeley. 


Helena says:

'Cambridge is where I fell in love with Russian language, literature and culture. During my undergraduate degree, I received a solid grounding in Russian grammar and usage, and was also able to explore everything from Soviet cinema to modernist literature, the history of Kyivan Rus’ and conceptualist art. In my third year I spent six months interning at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and knew that I wanted to go back to live in the region after graduating. The three years I spent in Moscow and Kyiv were invaluable for honing my language skills, absorbing cultural references, gaining professional and life experience and making close friends abroad. During that time, I pursued my interest in literary translation, attending workshops and courses with Anna Gunin and Robert Chandler and going to hear poets recite their own work in Russian. This is how I got to know the two poets I am currently translating, Elena Kostyleva and Galina Rymbu, at the bookshop Порядок слов in St. Petersburg and Kyiv Poetry Week respectively. My time in Kyiv also opened up a whole new horizon for me, which I am hoping to take further: Ukrainian language, literature and culture. I have just begun the graduate programme in Slavic Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley, where I am taking seminars in post-socialist anthropology, 20th century Russian poetry, composition, literary translation and 19th century literature. I have realised that my big passion is contemporary culture in Russia and Ukraine, and am currently writing about political performance art and aesthesis. I’m very excited and grateful to have been given the opportunity to sit down and work intensively with Galya in Oxford next Spring and am optimistic about the strength of Eastern European studies and literary translation in the UK right now!'

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