Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Poet Who Stirred a Generation of Soviets, Dies at 83

Raymond H. Anderson in the New York Times:

02yevtushenko1-master768Yevgeny Yevtushenko, an internationally acclaimed poet with the charisma of an actor and the instincts of a politician whose defiant verse inspired a generation of young Russians in their fight against Stalinism during the Cold War, died on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., where he had been teaching for many years. He was 83.

His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by a close friend, Mikhail Morgulis, with the TASS news agency. It said he had been admitted late Friday in “serious condition,” but the cause of death was not specified. His wife, Maria Novikova, and their two sons, Dmitry and Yevgeny, were reportedly with him when he died.

Mr. Yevtushenko’s poems of protest, often declaimed with sweeping gestures to thousands of excited admirers in public squares, sports stadiums and lecture halls, captured the tangled emotions of Russia’s young — hope, fear, anger and euphoric anticipation — as the country struggled to free itself from repression during the tense, confused years after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. In 1961 alone Mr. Yevtushenko gave 250 poetry readings.

He became, as one writer described him, “a graying lion of Russian letters” in his later years, teaching and lecturing at American universities, including the University of Tulsa, and basking in the admiration of succeeding generations before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But it was as a tall, athletic young Siberian with a spirit both hauntingly poetic and fiercely political that he established his name in 20th-century literature.

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