April 11, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 15

current issue
archive / search

    Writer Yevtushenko on campus April 18

    Yevgeny Yevtushenko, one of the most respected literary figures of the former Soviet Union, will present the William Vaughn Moody Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in Max Palevsky Cinema. The lecture, "Russia Between Past and Future: A Reading From Two Books -- Don't Die Before You're Dead and Premorning," is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

    The lecture marks Yevtushenko's third appearance on campus as the Moody lecturer. In 1966 he gave a poetry reading to a standing-room-only crowd in Mandel Hall, and he returned to campus three years ago as part of President Sonnenschein's inauguration to discuss his poetry, essays, photographs and films.

    Yevtushenko's most recent book, the mordantly funny Don't Die Before You're Dead, is an autobiographical novel capturing the events leading up to and surrounding the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991.

    Yevtushenko was himself involved in those events -- on the second day of the three-day attempt by hard-line Communists to derail reform, Yevtushenko stood on the balcony of the Russian White House next to Boris Yeltsin and read what he called "my very best bad poem" in support of reform. In 1993, he was awarded the Russian Defenders of Freedom Medal for his participation in the 1991 coup resistance.

    Yevtushenko first came to prominence in the United States 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. The poem pointed to the lack of a monument at Babi Yar, the ravine outside Kiev where the Nazis shot almost 100,000 Jews. It has been translated into 72 languages and was later made part of a monument near the city of Kiev.

    The Moody Lecture Series was established in 1916 in honor of poet and dramatist William Vaughn Moody, Professor in English.