This essay sheds a new light on Elaine Feinstein's Marina Tsvetaeva: Selected Poems (1971). This publication was crucial: not only did it introduce Tsvetaeva to a larger Anglophone audience, it also deeply influenced Feinstein's career. Its importance is all the more remarkable, as Feinstein was then neither a Russian specialist nor a translator.
Using archival material, the essay shows how those versions present a personal perspective on Tsvetaeva, which echoed Feinstein's poetic concerns at the turn of the 1970s, and how the poet was with them testing out new creative possibilities that could be harnessed for her own practice. More broadly, this is a case study of the links between literary translation and creative writing, when the poet has no previous knowledge of the source-language.