Nina Murray

Nina
Murray
Author, Poet

Education: MA in Creative Writing - Poetry University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nina Murray is author of Minimize Considered, as well as poetry published in journals such as Ekphrasis and The Harpoon Review. She also translates from Russian and Ukranian, notably Peter Aleshkovsky's Stargorod and Oksana Zabuzhko's The Museum of Abandoned Secrets


When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

As a young person, I dreamed of being a literary translator -- it just seemed like the most glamorous job on the planet. When I moved to the United States from Ukraine, in 2003, I started a graduate program in Creative Writing, and while I was writing my own poetry, I also looked for opportunities to translate and to write critically about Ukrainian literature. These interests led me eventually to the ASEEES community and my first ASEEES (AAASS then) convention in Boston in 2004. I have been engaged in thinking, writing, and translating from and about the region ever since.

What support have you received throughout your career (from ASEEES / other societies / federal support / etc.) that has allowed you to advance your scholarship?

As a graduate student, I really benefited from travel grants that gave me the opportunity to attend conferences and present my work. A trip to the Yale graduate student Slavic conference particularly stands out--the airline called me in the middle of the night before my departure day to tell me my flight was overbooked. I took two connections and bus, and got soaked in the rain, but I made it, and it was worth it! Through ASEEES and affiliate societies, I met many wonderful colleagues; most importantly, I felt a part of a greater community, which was important to keep my motivation and focus while studying and researching in Nebraska. Later, when I joined the U.S. Foreign Service, I kept up with the conversations on SEELANGs and ASEEES publications and have shared information about the Association and the opportunities it offers with researchers I met as a U.S. diplomat in Lithuania, Canada, and Russia.

What is your current research/work project?

I am working on releasing my first book-length collection of original poetry Alcestis in the Underworld, with the wonderful Circling Rivers Press. The idea for the book comes from the Greek myth, in which Alcestis takes the place of her husband, King Admetus, in the underworld, so that he may continue to rule the living. Alcestis returns to the underworld, but in the ancient story we do not find out how she goes on in the regular world having seen and learned things no one else has known. The poems articulate my own radically foreign experience of civic duty: my life in Moscow as a U.S. diplomat, after growing up in then-USSR Ukraine.

I continue to write poetry, as well book reviews, including for the Slavic and East European Journal, and take opportunities to translate when I have time. I most recently translated Oksana Zabuzhko's short story "An Album for Gustav" for Berlin Quarterly.

What does your ASEEES membership mean to you? How has your involvement with ASEEES helped to further your career?

Being a part of an intellectual and professional community--having this great family of colleagues that I can turn to for advice, connections, and support. 

What do you believe is the most important impact ASEEES has on the field?

ASEEES has an absolutely unique power to convene academic and non-academic professionals with a very wide variety of intellectual interests. Having a well-established, well-understood professional association that brings together people from so many countries and so many backgrounds is of great value to individuals, institutions, and the profession overall. It is a lot easier to make arguments in favor of multi-disciplinarity when one can hold up the ASEEES annual convention as an example of a forum where security studies and poetics come together.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

Being a diplomat, especially when overseas, tends to become a 24/7 occupation, so my first priority in my leisure time is writing. When that is done, I read more books and do yoga (thank goodness for YouTube!). I also seek out equestrian activities wherever I am; I'm a decent dressage rider and have also learned to drive competitively. To counterbalance all these classy pursuits, I am also a serious thrift-store bargain hunter.