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  RusNet :: Encyclopedia :: B  

Iosif Brodsky (1940-1996)

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Russian-American poet, born in former Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). A disciple of Anna Akhmatova, he began writing poetry in 1955.

He was first denounced by the Soviet government (for "decadence and modernism," among other charges) in 1963 and was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1972.

Brodsky immigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen, taught at several colleges, and continued to build a reputation as a distinguished literary figure. He became a master of the English language and wrote in it as well as Russian.

His poetry, which often treats themes of loss and exile, is highly regarded for its formal technique, depth, intensity, irony, and wit.

Among his best known works are A Part of Speech (tr. 1980), a volume of poetry; Less than One (tr. 1986) and the posthumously published On Grief and Reason (1996), essays; and the English-language poems of To Urania (1988) and So Forth (1996). Later works include a play, Marbles (1989), and a book of prose, Watermark (1992). His Collected Poems in English was published in 2000.

The recipient of a MacArthur Award (1981), a National Book Award (1986), and many other honours, Iosif Brodsky won the 1987 Nobel Prize for Literature and was poet laureate of the United States from 1991 to 1992.

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