Friday, January 8, 2016

Another Poet to Read: Joseph Brodsky

In a review of a new theater piece/ballet about Joseph Brodsky in the New York Review of Books, Joan Accocella wrote about Brodsky's departure from Russia and how he came to Ann Arbor --
"When literary dignitaries came to Russia, he was often the person they wanted to meet. But he could not get a poem published in the Soviet Union, not to speak of obtaining permission to attend literary conferences outside the Soviet Union. This is the sort of tragicomedy in which the USSR specialized. The authorities eventually tired of it, though, and one day, in June 1972, he was simply taken to the airport and put on a plane.
"He did not know whether the plane was going east or west. It went west, to Vienna, and at the airport he was met by the American Slavist Carl Proffer, whom he knew, and whose small press, Ardis, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would publish a number of his writings in Russian. Auden had a second home outside Vienna, and the day after Brodsky’s arrival Proffer rented a car and deposited Brodsky there, to what was apparently Auden’s surprise. Brodsky stayed for four weeks. Auden got him some money and called various people to say that he was coming.
"Proffer arranged for him to be given a job as poet in residence at the University of Michigan, where he himself taught."
Brodsky's Ann Arbor lodgings were just up the street from where I live, though, as I wrote in a previous post on Brodsky,  I never knowingly saw him. I found Acocella's biographical sketch very intriguing. While I rarely read poetry, I think I'll add Brodsky to my list for the coming year, which so far includes the poet Yehuda Amichai. In fact, I ordered a book of Amichai's poems today. The third poet on the list will be Robert Hayden (1913-1980).

From the New York Review of Books article titled "A Ghost Story" --

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