Born in Zima Junction, Siberia, Yevtushenko is probably Russia's best-known living poet. He published his first poem at the age of 16 and his first novel at 19. In 1960, the 27-year-old Yevtushenko became the first Russian poet to break the Iron Curtain and to recite his poetry in the West. In 1961, he published what is probably his best-known and most controversial poem "Babi Yar," about anti-Semitism.
An active political dissident, Yevtushenko protested the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, wrote a poem denouncing the war in Afghanistan and campaigned for the release of Vaclav Havel from prison. In December 1994, to protest the bloodshed in Chechnya, Yevtushenko publicly refused to accept Russia's highest honor "The Order of Friendship Between Peoples" from Boris Yeltsin.
From 1988 to 1991, Yevtushenko served as a member of the first freely elected Soviet parliament. In August 1991, he witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, which is the subject of his last novel Don't Die Before You're Dead (Random House, 1995).
Yevtushenko's visit to Hamilton is sponsored by the departments of English, Russian Studies and comparative literature and the President's Focus Series on Civility, Diversity and Conflict Resolution.
The reading will be followed by a reception and book-signing at Emerson Gallery.