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Yevgeny Yevtushenko Biography | Poet

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Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (Russian: Åâãåíèé Àëåêñàíäðîâè÷ Åâòóøåíêî; born July 18, 1933) is a Russian poet, whose work contains scathing attacks on the Russian bureaucracy as a legacy of Stalin.

Born in Irkutsk to a family of Ukrainian exiles, he moved to Moscow as a boy and attended the Gorky Institute of Literature. His first important poem was "Zima Junction," published in 1956.

Yevtushenko was one of the politically active authors during the Khrushchev Thaw. In 1961 he produced the poem "Babi Yar," in which he attacked Soviet indifference to the Nazi massacre of the Jews of Kiev in September 1941. The poem was widely circulated in samizdat but a typical Soviet policy regarding the Holocaust was to present it as atrocities against Soviet citizens, not acknowledging the genocide of the Jews and this politically incorrect poem was published in the state-controlled Soviet press only in 1984.

In the same year that he released Babi Yar, he also published "The Heirs of Stalin," claiming that the legacy of Stalinism still dominated the country. Published originally in Pravda, the poem was only republished a quarter of a century later, under the more liberal leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1963, Yevtushenko, already an international literary sensation, was banned from traveling outside the Soviet Union; the ban was lifted in 1965.

Yevtushenko (along with Jean Paul Sartre and others) was one of the signatories of the protest against the harsh sentence given by the Soviet authorities to Joseph Brodsky. Nevertheless, when he was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, there was a flurry of protest, led by Brodsky, who complained that Yevtushenko's attacks on the Soviet Union were launched only in directions approved by the Party.

In the 1970s, Yevtushenko was closely associated with dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

In the post-Soviet era, Yevtushenko has been active promoting the works of former dissident poets, environmental causes, and the memory of victims of the Soviet Gulags.

Yevtushenko now teaches Russian and European poetry and film at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma and at Queens College of the City University of New York.

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