Andrei Voznesensky : biography
Andrei Andreyevich Voznesensky ( May 12, 1933 – June 1, 2010) was a Soviet and Russian poet and writer who had been referred to by Robert Lowell as "one of the greatest living poets in any language." He was one of the "Children of the ’60s," a new wave of iconic Russian intellectuals led by the Khrushchev Thaw.
Voznesensky was considered "one of the most daring writers of the Soviet era" but his style often led to regular criticism from his contemporaries and he was once threatened with expulsion by Nikita Khrushchev. He performed poetry readings in front of sold-out stadiums around the world, and was much admired for his skilled delivery. Some of his poetry was translated into English by W. H. Auden. Voznesenky’s long-serving mentor and muse was Boris Pasternak, the Nobel Laureate and the author of Doctor Zhivago.
Before his death, he was both critically and popularly proclaimed "a living classic", and "an icon of Soviet intellectuals".
Voznesensky was born in Moscow. His father was a professor of engineering, while his mother influenced him early on by reading poetry in his presence. His father worked during World War II. In his early life, Voznesensky was fascinated with painting and architecture, in 1957 graduating from the Moscow Architectural Institute with a degree in engineering. His enthusiasm for poetry, though, proved to be stronger. While still a teenager, he sent his poems to Boris Pasternak; the friendship between the two had a strong influence on the young poet, and he later described this relationship in "I Am Fourteen" – "From that day on, my life took on a magical meaning and a sense of destiny; his new poetry, telephone conversations, Sunday chats at his house from 2 to 4, walks—years of happiness and childish adoration". Pasternak, who died in 1960, paid him the ultimate tribute – "Your entrance into literature was swift and turbulent. I am glad I’ve lived to see it".
In later years Voznesensky became reclusive in nature. He suffered a stroke several years before his death. He is believed to have endured another stroke in early 2010.
On June 1, 2010, Voznesensky died at the age of 77. The secretary of Russian Union of Writers, Gennady Ivanov, announced that he had died in his home in a peaceful manner. A cause of death went unprovided. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote a letter of condolences. A telegram by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Voznesensky had "truly become a person of dominant influence". Other senior Russian officials and cultural entities also offered many tributes.
Voznesensky’s wife, Zoya Boguslavskaya, outlived him. He was buried in the Moscow Novodevichi Cemetery on 4 June 2010.
Voznesensky’s style was considered different from his contemporaries in the Soviet Union.
His first poems were published in 1958, and these immediately reflected his unique style. His lyrics are characterized by his tendency "to measure" the contemporary person by modern categories and images, by the eccentricity of metaphors, by the complex rhythmical system and sound effects. Vladimir Mayakovsky and Pablo Neruda have been cited among the poets who influenced him most.
The Goya-inspired "I Am Goya" was an early Voznesensky effort, and went on to achieve considerable recognition for its impressions of the fear and horror attached to war, as demonstrated by its Russian metaphors and recurring "g" sounds. Another early poem, "Fire in the Architecture Institute", was inspired by a 1957 night fire at the Institute of Architecture in Moscow. Voznesensky later said: "I believe in symbols. I understood that architecture was burned out in me. I became a poet".
Voznesensky was one of several young Russian intellectuals whom Nikita Khrushchev invited to a reception hosted by the ruling Communist Party in December 1962. Khrushchev scathingly remarked on Voznesensky at the ceremony: "Just look at this new Pasternak! You want to get a [foreign] passport tomorrow? You want it? And then go away, go to the dogs! Go, go there". In 1963, his fame blossomed and he became "as popular as The Beatles" after Khruschev publicly and falsely branded him a pervert.