Dear Nadya (a letter to)

Estimated reading time: 1 minutes — How do you write a letter to someone without including anything overtly political when everything you know about her is overtly political? I don’t know. What I do know is that these patriots are still human beings, probably struggling to survive horrific prison conditions. Some letters seem like the […]

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —

Photo of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and daughter Gera in the forest with stained hands from something like picking blueberries. Text over the image reads "Dear Nadya (a letter to)

From English PEN / Writers at Risk Programme:

We don’t have any strict guidelines, though would obviously recommend that you don’t include anything overtly political. Also, when we met other members of Pussy Riot earlier this year they mentioned that messages written in Russian take 3 days to be censored (rather than 10 in the case of letters in a foreign language) so we’ve had a few stock phrases translated (copied below) that you’d be most welcome to use if you would like to.

On the 17 August anniversary of the Pussy Riot Verdict, FreePussyRiot.org asked “us” to assemble in cities around the world to protest the incarceration of Nadya and Maria. They also asked us to write letters to them in prison. I liked that idea. It is important to make noise on the world stage. But Nadya and Maria are still human beings struggling to survive in conditions probably far more awful than I can begin to imagine. Maybe a letter would mean something. I was pleased to find that the English PEN / Writers at Risk Programme had addresses to write to them.

First Thing to Think About: I guess you have to send an actual, physical piece of paper! I guess prisoners don’t get email!

Second Thing to Think About: How do you write a letter to someone without including anything overtly political when everything you know about her is overtly political?

Hello Nadezhda,

Your colleagues and friends at English PEN would like to take this opportunity to send you their very best wishes.

I read that you are a philosophy major at Moscow State University. I suppose you are not thinking about school too much right now. I wonder if you will go back to school in the future? I hope you do. I only took one philosophy course at university. But I have been an “amateur philosopher” ever since. I wish I had studied it more. It seems very valuable.

I don’t imagine you get outdoors very much? My summer has been nice. A mostly mild summer. But very hot in the last few days. I’ve done a bit of kayaking. It’s nice to be on the water. I really should try to do more.

I read that you are turning 24 this year. Happy almost birthday. I turned 44 earlier this year. You were born in 1989? Here is a photo of me in a college dance class in 1988. The year before you were born. I was 19 then. The person in front is my friend Jonni Hovan. I’m the one in the back. It doesn’t feel like I was ever 19. That seems so long ago and far away now.

Have you had a visit from your daughter Gera? She must be growing a lot right now. I hope she is well cared for and doing ok.

I guess mostly I wanted to write just to say that I am thinking of you and that I admire your courage. I hope you are in good health.

With warm wishes,

Vanessa Blaylock

Dear Nadya. A letter to. Photo of Juli Patten, Jonni Hovan, and Vanessa Blaylock at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts in 1988.

Jonni Hovan & Vanessa Blaylock, 1988


 
from Google Translate:

Здравствуйте Надежда,

Ваши коллеги и друзья на английском PEN хотел бы воспользоваться этой возможностью, чтобы отправить вам свои наилучшие пожелания.

Я читал, что вы философии основным в Московском государственном университете. Я полагаю, вы не думаете о школе слишком много сейчас. Интересно, если вы вернетесь в школу в будущем? Я надеюсь, что вы делаете. Я только взял один курс философии в университете. Но я был “любитель философ» до сих пор. Жаль, что я изучал его больше. Кажется, очень ценно.

Я не думаю, вы получаете на открытом воздухе очень много? Мое лето было хорошим.В основном, легкой летом. Но очень жарко в последние несколько дней. Я сделал немного каяках. Приятно быть на воде. Я действительно должны попробовать сделать еще больше.

Я читал, что вы превращаете 24 в этом году. Счастливые почти день рождения. Я повернулся 44 в начале этого года. Вы родились в 1989 году? Вот фотография меня в классе танца колледжа в 1988 году. В позапрошлом году вы родились. Мне было 19 лет тогда.Человек передо мой друг Jonni Hovan. Я тот, в спину. Это не чувствую, что я когда-либо был 19. Это, кажется, так давно и далеко сейчас.

Были ли у вас от посещения вашей дочери Геры? Она, должно быть много растущих прямо сейчас. Я надеюсь, что она хорошо заботятся и делают хорошо.

Я думаю, больше всего я хотел написать только, чтобы сказать, что я думаю о тебе и что я восхищаюсь вашим мужеством. Я надеюсь, что вы в добром здравии.

С теплыми пожеланиями,

Ванесса Blaylock

Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova
431150
Rep. Mordovia
zubovo-Polyansky district
Parca, IR-14, RUSSIA
Толоконникова Надежда Андреевна
431150
респ. Мордовия
Зубово-Полянский район
пос. Парца, ИК-14, RUSSIA

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