Photo: Poetess Anna Halberstadt, by Dainius Dirgėla
When I come back here again
This city seems half real, half hallucination
Anna Halberstadt writes in her poem Vilnius Diary. She was born and raised in Vilnius, studied in Moscow and for almost 40 years now has lived in New York City. In 2017 her book Vilnius Diary (Turtle Press, NY 2014) appeared in Lithuanian, translated by Marius Burokas, the winner of the 2019 Marionis prize at the Poezijos pavasaris [Poetry Spring] event, published by the Lithuanian Writers Union. Besides being a poetess, Halberstadt is a psychologist and psychotherapist. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was a doctor–a plastic surgeon and dentist–in Vilnius. Her grandfather on her father’s side was I. Levin who was a judge in Švenčionėliai, Lithuania, before the 1917 Russian Revolution. Halberstadt’s father Simonas Galberštatas taught at the Natural Sciences and Medicine Faculty of Vilnius University. Her great-grandfather’s home built in 1905 still stands on Naugarduko street in Vilnius.
You often mention you had a wonderful literature teacher, Roza Glintershchik. Could you tell us more about her and her group of literati?
Roza came to teach us Russian literature when I was a seventh-grader at the Salomėja Nėris high school in Vilnius. Now I understand she was a young woman, 36, but at the time she seemed very serious to me with her dark suit jackets and white blouses, with glasses adorning her nice face and clever eyes. She immediately raised our level of education. She spoke with us as if we were adults and wouldn’t tolerate any mediocrity.
Full interview in Lithuanian here.