Elena Fanailova's poems take on topics ranging from the pleasures and disasters of daily life to political spectacle and aesthetic triumph. They push to new limits a longstanding trend in Russian poetry of introducing more conversational and colorful language into traditional verse. Her poems show that she knows a considerable amount about poetry's history, and she puts that knowledge to work in poems that hold up to Russia the mirror of its own past and present. Anyone who wants to know why poetry still matters, or who wants to know about life in post-Soviet Russia, should read her work. Formerly a doctor and teacher of art and psychology in Voronezh, Fanailova is now a correspondent for Radio Liberty in Moscow. In 1999, she received the Andrei Bely Prize, one of the most coveted of Russia's literary awards.