Yevgeny Yevtushenko

(b. 1933) Russian poet

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(1933– )

Russian poet.

Yevtushenko was born of Ukrainian stock in Zima, a small town on the Trans-Siberian Railway near Lake Baikal, and his childhood was divided between there and Moscow. After being expelled from school at fifteen he divided his attention between football and writing poetry. He first achieved publication in 1949. During his years as a student at Moscow's Gorki Literary institute (1951–57) Yevtushenko wrote prolifically: Third Snow (1955), Zima Junction (1956), The Highway of Enthusiasts (1956), and The Promise (1957) were among the works that encapsulated the feelings and aspirations of the younger generation then struggling out of the shadow of Stalinism. His poetry readings attracted audiences of many thousands, but some of his poetry incurred official hostility, notably Babiy Yar (1961) with its controversial statement about Soviet antisemitism. The poem was set to music by Shostakovich. In the early 1960s Yevtushenko began writing on more international themes and travelled abroad to give poetry recitals that won him an enthusiastic audience in the West. His Precocious Autobiography appeared in 1963 in Paris and the freedom with which Yevtushenko expressed his thoughts in it about Soviet society caused him to be recalled to the Soviet Union in disgrace; he regained favour with Bratsk Station (1965). Yevtushenko maintained a high public profile during both the repressive 1970s and the more liberal era of Gorbachov. He was secretary of the Soviet Writers' Union from 1986 to 1991 and a member of the Congress of People's Deputies from 1989 to 1991. His more recent publications have included the novels Berries (1981) and Don't Die Before You're Dead (1996), as well as several volumes of his photographs. He published his Collected Poems in 1991 and compiled an important anthology of Twentieth Century Russian Poetry in English translation (1994).

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Literature.

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