Maria Stepanova

Maria Stepanova, born in Moscow in 1972, is a poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, and the author of ten poetry collections as well as three books of essays. Sasha Dugdale’s translation of her book-length poem Holy Winter 20/21 was first published by Bloodaxe in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2024, then, in the same year, by New Directions in the United States. Stepanova’s earlier book, War of the Beasts and the Animals (Bloodaxe Books, 2021), also translated by Dugdale, was the first English translation of her poetry. Both Holy Winter 20/21 and War of the Beasts and the Animals were Poetry Book Society Translation Choices and winners of PEN Translates awards. War of the Beasts and the Animals was also short-listed for the 2021 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. In 2022, she was awarded the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for a book of poetry, Mädchen ohne Kleider [Girls Without Clothes], published by Suhrkamp Verlag.

Stepanova’s documentary novel In Memory of Memory won Russia’s Big Book Award in 2018 and was published in English in Dugdale’s translation by Fitzcarraldo in the U.K. and New Directions in the U.S. in 2021. In 2023, Stepanova was awarded the Berman Literature Prize for In Memory of Memory. It was also short-listed for the 2021 International Booker Prize, the 2021 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, and the 2022 James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A third book by Stepanova, The Voice Over: Poems and Essays, edited by Irina Shevelenko, was published by Columbia University Press in the U.S. in 2021 as part of its Russian Library series.

Stepanova’s other Russian and international literary awards include the prestigious Andrei Bely Prize and the Joseph Brodsky Fellowship. She founded and was editor-in-chief of the online, independent, crowdsourced journal, which engaged with the cultural, social, and political reality of contemporary Russia until the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, when all dissenting media in Russia were forced to shut down. As a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime, Stepanova had to leave Russia and is now living in exile.