Queer Places:
Cemiterio dos Ingleses Gamboa Rio de Janeiro, Município de Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Valery Pereleshin (July 20, 1913 - November 7, 1992), pseudonym of Valeriy Frantzevich Salatko-Petrische, was a Russian poet. One of the most prolific gay poets, Valery Pereleshin emigrated to China and eventually to Brazil. Pereleshin's classically formed poems express his multicultural background, he translated from Chinese and wrote poetry in Portuguese. His verse memoirs, "Poem without an Object," describe his gay love affairs, and he warns his readers, "My chronicle will not be to the tastes of uncles and aunts, for half a century we haven't gotten on, the breeders and I." Pereleshin's tour de force, Ariel (1976), contains 169 sonnets, a poetic epistolary romance with a married man in Moscow.

 Born in Irkutsk, Siberia, into the family of a civil servant, he found himself at the age of seven, with his mother and brother, in Harbin, Manchuria, one of the main centres of Russian émigré life after the Bolshevik revolution. In 1935 he received a law degree from the local Russian-language university, where he stayed on as a researcher, however, the university was closed by Manchuria's Japanese occupying authorities in 1937. In 1938, he took monastic vows and soon moved to Beijing, where he worked at the Russian church mission, at the same time pursuing studies of Chinese language and literature. In 1943, he moved to Shanghai, where at the end of World War II he renounced his monastic vows and briefly worked for the Soviet news agency, TASS. In 1950, he attempted emigrating to the US, but was deported back to China on suspicion of being a communist sympathiser. In 1953, after many travails, he arrived with his mother in Rio de Janeiro, where he lived for the rest of his life. His first years there were extremely difficult and spent in poverty; his life acquired a degree of stability only in the 1960s, when he began an appointment at the local office of the British Council.

Pereleshin's first poem was published in a Harbin Russian-language newspaper in 1928; his first collection of poetry, On My Way, came out in 1937, followed by three more books of poems, in 1939, 1941 and 1944; in the 1940s, he also published several poetic translations from Chinese and English. After a prolonged silence, he then returned to writing in the late 1960s, with the publication of his fifth collection of poems, A Southern Home (1968). However, in the 1970s Pereleshin's talent developed with a truly explosive strength. Over the next two decades, he published eight collections of original poetry, a book-length Poem Without a Subject (1989), as well as memoirs on Russian literary life in China in the 1930s and 1940s and numerous translations of classical Chinese poetry into Russian, and of Russian poetry into Portuguese (most notably The Alexandrian Songs of Russia's greatest gay poet, Mikhail Kuzmin).

Pereleshin's poetry is unusual in the Russian tradition in its combination of conservative strict metric forms and of a very contemporary, lively and rich vocabulary. He was also unique due to his combination of cultural backgrounds (Russian, Chinese, Brazilian) and his out-spokenness in his writing about his sexual feelings towards other men. His ninth and arguably best book of poems, Arid (1976), a collection of sonnets inspired by an epistolary love affair with a young literary scholar in Moscow, offers some of the most inspired gay love poetry in Russian, ranging in its tone from tender to sado-masochistic. His other books offer fascinating examples of cross-cultural dialogue, describing his relationships with Chinese and Brazilian men. A poet of great technical skill and passion, Pereleshin was the leading Russian gay writer of the generation shaped by the revolution of 1917. Writing in distant China and Brazil, he formed a bridge between the flowering of Russian gay literature at the beginning of the century and the rebirth of gay writing in Russia in the final years of the Soviet empire.


My published books:

See my published books

BACK TO HOME PAGE