Poetry News

Entertainment Tonight, Zombie Edition: Joseph Brodsky Criticizes Contemporaries From Beyond the Grave

By Harriet Staff

Joseph Brodsky

Here's a holdover from our Halloween coverage, and one for the record books. A half-hour interview recorded with Nobel Prize winning poet, Joseph Brodsky, in 1972, has surfaced and since been posted on the Colta.ru site. In it, Brodsky belittles his contemporaries then turns the spotlight on himself. AWKWARD.

"Of course, he is a very bad poet and an even worse person," Brodsky says of Yevgeny Yevtushenko. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the half-hour interview, in which he speaks cuttingly and at great length about many of his contemporaries in the world of Soviet culture. He then turned the spotlight on himself and agreed that he could be called a Soviet poet, while saying that he had "a strong aversion to all labels apart from simply 'Russian.'"

Following his denunciation in 1963, Brodsky suffered persecution at the hands of the Soviet authorities and was charged with ''social parasitism,'' for which he was sentenced to five years of hard labor. This sentence was later commuted after several prominent Soviet and foreign cultural figures, including Yevtushenko and Shostakovich, intervened on his behalf. He became known as a symbol of artistic resistance in the West and his works were translated into many languages.

Brodsky left the Soviet Union in 1972, never to return. Although he had been invited to emigrate to Israel, he went first to Vienna and then to the U.S., where he died in 1996.

Eek! Read and shriek at The Moscow Times.

Originally Published: November 1st, 2013