November 01, 2017

The Translator

The Translator

An elderly woman with a cane slowly stoops to place her bag on the wall by a metro station exit. Bending over, she takes out a pair of paperback books and, holding them up, stands to the side of the exit. She does not have a sign or a table, and she does not call out to passersby, so it is a bit difficult to immediately gather what it is the woman is selling.

“Within 15 minutes of standing here, almost all of them are sold,” she says, looking out from beneath the hood of her shabby black coat. “Today I unexpectedly found a copy of another book – poems of the English romantics: Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Blake. It got snapped up too.”

Galina Sergeyevna Usova is a poet and translator of English prose and poetry. For a few years now, she has been standing outside St. Petersburg’s Polytechnic Institute metro station selling her books. She says that the station is both literally and figuratively close to home: she lives nearby and her father and brother both worked in the institute.

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