Sophia Parnok (1885-1933), often dubbed as “the Russian Sappho”, was
Russia’s first openly-lesbian poet. Parnok was born in the city of Taganrog to a Jewish pharmacist’s family. She studied at the Mariinskaya Gymnasium in 1894–1903, traveled through Europe, then studied at the Geneva Conservatory, although a lack of financial means made her return to Taganrog in 1904.
At the beginning of World War I, she met the young poet Marina Tsvetaeva, with whom she became involved in a love affair that left important imprints on the poetry of both women. The lyrics in Parnok’s Poems presented the first, non-decadent, lesbian-desiring subject ever to be heard in a book of Russian poetry.
Sophia chose to live openly and write about her relationships with eight women – to each of whom she dedicated several poems, the one pictured in this post being a poem to Nina Vedeneyeva, Parnok’s last love