Saturday, 5 June 2010

Innovative ‘anti-Soviet’ poet dies at age 77

Voznesensky, inspired and mentored in his youth by Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak, was a great Soviet poet who came into great conflict with the Soviet establishment. Among Voznesensky’s troubles with the ruling powers – his work was decried as “anti-Soviet” almost the minute he was first published – was an incident in which Nikita Khruschev himself shouted at Voznesensky at a gathering of the intelligentsia inside the Kremlin. The legacy of his work, which included poetry that formed the basis of the first Soviet rock-opera, “Juno and Avos”, is both artistic and political in nature and will be discussed far into the future.

Writer Mikhail Veller told Rosbalt that Voznesensky was “filled with a champagne-like, crystal energy” and a member of “the generation of giants” – referring to Soviet poets who first gained prominence in the 1960s. “At that time, poets gathered thousands, tens of thousands of people,” Yury Lyubimov, the art director of the Taganka Theatre and Voznesensky’s friend and colleague, told RIA Novosti, referring to the period when writers like Voznesensky began to make their mark. “Society wanted to know, then, where it was headed... When I asked Boris Pasternak whom among the young poets I could take a closer look at – and this was over half a century ago – he said, ‘Andryusha Voznesensky, surely! Take heed of his poetry!’ “

Others recalled Voznesensky’s integrity and unassuming manner – a stark contrast to the view of many Soviet authorities, who saw him mainly as a rogue. In his obituary of Voznesensky on, writer Dmitry Bykov recalled that the poet told him, “One has to differ in some way from the traditional legend of a poet as someone who drinks a lot, who goes on endless benders, who has endless affairs.”
A farewell ceremony for Voznesensky will be held in the Central House of Writers the morning of June 4.

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