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Renowned Russian Poet
and Filmmaker Will Speak at Davidson

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

August 29, 2000
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, best known poet of the post-Stalin generation of Russian poets, will present Davidson College's annual McGaw Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 7. Yevtushenko will talk about his work and read selected poems beginning at 7 p.m. in Love Auditorium of Chambers Building. A reception and book signing will follow the presentation. There is no admission charge.

In addition, Yevtushenko will introduce and comment on his film, Stalin's Funeral, at a free showing of that film on Friday, Sept. 8, at 8 p.m. in Perkins Auditorium of Chambers Building. Yevtushenko wrote, directed, and starred in the production, which is largely autobiographical and deals with the experience of growing up in an anti-Semitic culture.

Born in 1933, Yevtushenko gained international fame in 1961 with his poem "Babi Yar," which cracked the taboo of examining systemic Soviet anti-Semitism, and Soviet complicity in the fate of European Jewry, in a way that was never attempted before. The poem's title refers to a Ukranian ravine where Nazi soldiers slaughtered 96,000 Jews during the German occupation.

Yevtushenko's demands for greater artistic freedom and his attacks on Stalinism and bureaucracy in the late 1950s and 1960s made him a leader of Soviet youth.

"We were living in the times of very hard censorship," he said in an interview. "Metaphorical language of poetry was the only way to express our nostalgie for freedom... that's why people sink their own unrealized hopes in our poetry."

Since the 1970s Yevtushenko has been active in writing, acting, film directing, and photography. In 1987 he was appointed as an honorary member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Yevtushenko's visit to Davidson is sponsored by the Department of German & Russian, the Department of English, the Dean Rusk Program in International Studies, and the McGaw Endowment of the Public Lectures Committee. For more information, call 894-2441 or 894-2855.

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