|September 13, 2005
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, an internationally acclaimed Russian poet, novelist and filmmaker, will give three public lectures on Sept. 21, 22 and 23 at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.
Yevtushenko will show and discuss his film "Stalin's Funeral" at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 21, in Kresge Hall. He will give a poetry reading at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 22 in Harbach Theatre. Yevtushenko will give a lecture, "Poetry, Cinema and International Politics Today," at 4 p.m., Friday, September 23, in Harbach Theatre. All three events are free and open to the public.
While at Knox, Yevtushenko also will meet with Knox classes, and with students and faculty in informal settings. His visit to Knox is sponsored by the Honnold Lectureship and the John and Elaine Fellowes Fund.
Born in 1933 in Siberia, where his family had been exiled in the 1800s, Yevtushenko published his first poems at the age of 16. His early work won praise from noted poets, including Russian Boris Pasternak, and Americans Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost. As Yevtushenko gained fame as a "poet of love," he also "became the first lonely voice against Stalinism" among Russian authors, according to English professor William Davidson of the University of Wisconsin. Yevtushenko "found himself caught in a crossfire of Stalinist writers and snobs who were irritated by his unprecedented, giant public readings," Davidson says.
In 1961, Yevtushenko published the poem "Babi Yar," a protest against Russian anti-Semitism, which was later inscribed in a display at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In addition to his poetry, which has been translated into 72 languages, he wrote and directed two films, "Kindergarten" and in 1990, "Stalin's Funeral," which starred Vanessa Redgrave. His novels include "Don't Die Before You're Dead," and "Wild Berries." He also has compiled a 1,000-page anthology of Russian poetry, published by Doubleday.
"Yevtushenko has written that 'A poet in Russia is more than a poet,' and throughout his life he has tried to justify this sentiment," Davidson says. From 1988 to 1991, Yevtushenko served in the first freely-elected Russian parliament. In 1991, during an attempt to overthrow the elected government, Yevtushenko recited his poetry from the balcony of the Russian White House before an audience estimated at 200,000 people. In 1994, to symbolize his opposition to the war in Chechnya, he refused an invitation to receive Russia's "The Order of Friendship Between Peoples."
Yevtushenko is an honorary member of the American and European Academies of Arts and Letters. In 1991 he received the American Liberties Medallion from the American Jewish Committee, in honor of his "exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty." He was the first non-American to receive the Walt Whitman Poet in Residence Award, and, in January 2005, he received the prestigious Italian literary prize, Premio Grinzane Cavour. His boyhood home in the Siberian village of Zima Junction has been dedicated as a historic site and museum.
Yevtushenko has spoken in 94 countries and currently divides his time between Russia and the United States. He and his family live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he teaches Russian literature and Russian and European cinema at the University of Tulsa.
Additional sponsors of the events include the offices of the President, Dean of the College, and Dean of Students.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 46 states and 50 nations. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.
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