Author, poet Yevtushenko to present Moody Lecture
Yevgeny Yevtushenko -- poet, novelist and perhaps the most respected literary figure of the former Soviet Union -- will present the William Vaughn Moody Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in Max Palevsky Cinema. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
Yevtushenko will read and discuss his poetry, most recently collected in "The Collected Poems 1952-1990." He will also discuss his other works, which include essays, film scripts, photographs and films.
The lecture marks Yevtushenko's second appearance on campus as the Moody lecturer. In 1966, he read his poetry to a standing-room-only crowd in Mandel Hall.
Today, Yevtushenko is considered one of the three living giants of Russian letters, along with Andrei Voznesensky and Bella Akhmadulina.
Born in 1933, Yevtushenko became the youngest member of the Soviet Union Writer's Union in 1952, the year his first book of poetry was published. In the late 1950s, however, Yevtushenko's poetry represented the first Soviet voice against Stalinism. In 1957, he was expelled from the Young Communist League for his "individualism."
He first came to prominence in the United States in the early 1960s with the publication of "Babi Yar," a violent indictment of anti-Semitism that angered then-Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev when it was published in 1961. This poem, which pointed to the lack of a monument at Babi Yar, the ravine outside Kiev where the Nazis shot almost 100,000 Jews, has been translated into 72 languages and was made part of a giant monument near the city of Kiev.
Among his many books in English are "From Desire to Desire," "Ivan, the Fool," "Precocious Autobiography," "Zima Junction" and "Divided Twins."
In 1984, Yevtushenko won the State Prize of the U.S.S.R. for his poem "Momma and the Neutron Bomb." In 1988, he became a founder, with Andrei Sakharov, of the anti-Stalinist society Memorial, which organized the first marches and meetings for democracy in the U.S.S.R. In 1989, Yevtushenko was elected a People's Deputy of the U.S.S.R. from the city of Kharkov, and in a speech at the first Congress of People's Deputies he called for a struggle against the monopoly of the Communist Party and privileges of bureaucracy.
Yevtushenko is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently teaches at New York University.
The Moody Lecture Series was established in 1916 in honor of William Vaughn Moody, Professor in English, who was a widely known poet and dramatist during the first decade of the 20th century.