Internationally acclaimed poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko speaks at Fairfield University November 18


"He's just a little more alive than anyone I've ever met."
Michelle Whalen, sophomore English student at the University of Tulsa.

CamposThe "Russian Bard" - "Poet of Conscience," as the internationally acclaimed Yevgeny Yevtushenko is known, speaks at Fairfield University in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will present Yevtushenko with Fairfield University's 2009 Gerard Manley Hopkins Award. Dr. Javier Campos, professor of Spanish, Modern Languages and Literatures and Dr. David McFadden, professor of History and a Russian specialist will join Yevtushenko onstage for discussion following his poetry reading entitled, "On the Border between the City of Yes and the City of No." Tickets are $25 for the public. The lecture, part of the University's Arts & Minds 2009-2010 series, is free to Fairfield University faculty and students.

Campos, a native of Chile, is Yevtushenko's Spanish translator and through his treasured friendship with the great poet, he invited him to Fairfield University to speak and to meet with students in several classes over two days.

Campos admits to loving Yevtushenko's poetry since the age of seventeen when he first saw him reading with Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda in his Chilean town. As he says, "Later in my life I was always reading his poetry and was very much aware of his role during the Stalin time in Russia. But 2007 in Guatemala was the year we became friends and from that time on, our special friendship grew." He continued, "I liken it to admiring Beethoven or Picasso and then, suddenly finding that the person I have so admired is now a great friend; someone who shares his music or his painting, who asks about a piece I am working on, who walks with me. He has become someone with whom I can have a long conversation, like a father, sharing a bottle of wine with me."

Emphasizing, perhaps the most unique quality this intellectual giant embodies, Campos says simply, "The openness and selflessness he has shown to me is a gift that few receive from life, especially from one who is an artist."

Yevtushenko will read selected poems written between 1950 and 2009, including his famous poem, "Babi Yar," written in 1961 as a protest against anti-Semitism. Today, that poem is inscribed in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and it became the basis for Dimitri Shostakovich's 13th Symphony. In 1991, Yevtushenko received the highest honor the American Jewish Committee could bestow - the American Liberties Medallion - "for exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty."

During his campus visit students will have the opportunity to view Yevtushenko's 1990 film, "Stalin's Funeral" and discuss it with the poet/filmmaker and faculty.

Early in his years as a writer and before other dissidents rose to the Russian political stage, Yevtushenko's voice became a lonely one raised against Stalinism. He was a pioneer of public readings and gave voice to a generation that sought release from years of repression. It is widely acknowledged that he played a major role in the "Khrushchev thaw" of Russian literature and culture.

The event is sponsored in part by the Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, University College and the Departments of Russian and East European Studies, History, Judaic Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Modern Languages and Literatures, International Studies, Peace and Justice and Visual and Performing Arts.

Tickets are available by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 4, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 117