Yevtushenko, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich

Yevtushenko, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich yĕv˝to͞oshĕng´kō, Rus. yĭvgā´nyē əlyĭksän´drəvĭch yĭvtəshĕn´kō [key], 1933–2017, Russian poet, b. Zima Junction, Siberia. Along with Andrei Voznesensky and several others he helped revive the tradition of Russian lyric poetry. Yevtushenko's first book of poems was published in 1952. He soon became the most popular spokesman of the young generation of poets who refused to adhere to the doctrine of socialist realism; he inspired young Russians to resist Stalinism during the cold war and to cope in the years following Stalin's death. Yevtushenko: Selected Poems (1962) contains four of his most famous poems: Zima Junction, an autobiographical work originally published in 1956, which first brought him to public attention; Talk, an indictment of Soviet hypocrisy; Babi Yar, a description of the 1941 German massacre of thousands of Jews in Kiev, Ukraine and a protest against Soviet anti-Semitism, which brought him international acclaim; and The Heirs of Stalin, a denunciation of the Soviet system. His long poems include Bratsk Station (1964–65) and Kazan University (1970). The publication in Paris of Yevtushenko's Precocious Autobiography (1963) brought him severe official censure, and he was frequently criticized by the Russian government for his nonconformist attitude. Despite this, Yevtushenko, a charismatic public speaker, declaimed his poetry in hundreds of highly popular readings throughout Russia, and made numerous, nearly as popular reading tours abroad during and after the Soviet era. He also wrote novels, notably Wild Berries (tr. 1984), essays, and the semiautobiographical, post-Soviet work Don't Die Before You're Dead (tr. 1995), an account of the 1991 triumph of Boris Yeltsin (Yevtushenko served in the Soviet parliament from 1988 to 1991), and was an actor, director, and photographer. In later years, Yevtushenko taught at several American universities, notably at the Univ. of Tulsa, a city where he maintained a home. His name is sometimes transliterated Evtushenko.

See his collected poems (tr. 1991).

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