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RESPONDING TO BRITISH MEDIA

06.06.2016

Ambassador Yakovenko’s remarks at Joseph Brodsky monument unveil ceremony (Keele University, 6 June 2016)

Dear Vice-Chancellor,
Ladies and gentleman,
It is an honour for me to be here today, on the Day of the Russian Language. This holiday is celebrated on the birthday of our national poet Alexander Pushkin, whose descendants lived in this house, making it a special place for every Russian. Years later, this house became one of the main centres of Russian language and literature studies in Britain, to a great measure thanks to the efforts of Professor Valentina Polukhina, who will be celebrating her jubilee in a few days' time. She made Keele a home away from home for dozens of Russian poets, including Joseph Brodsky, who came here twice in his lifetime and today returns as a sculpture.
Brodsky didn't particularly like monuments. From his poems, two of which are dedicated to statues of Pushkin, one gets the impression that he saw them as something heavy and dead. In another poem, also paraphrasing Pushkin, he said that his own mind was his monument. And indeed, Brodsky's innovative and deep verse and essay in Russian and English say more than any statue would say. Still, the work of the young Russian sculptor Kirill Bobylev reflects as lively as bronze can the sublime and restless mind of the poet. I'm sure that this convincing portrayal of inspiration will itself inspire the students of Keele to read Brodsky and other Russian poets and writers, classical and contemporary.
In his Nobel Prize lecture the poet said: "for someone who has read a lot of Dickens, to shoot his like in the name of some idea is more problematic than for someone who has read no Dickens". This obviously can be referred to Brodsky himself as well. This is why despite the political tensions Russia and UK agreed to hold in 2016 a Year of Language and Literature - to foster cultural affinity as a vehicle of mutual understanding. Dickens and Brodsky, Shakespeare and Pushkin are in this way alive and working for peace.
Having said this, I have the pleasure to unveil this beautiful monument.
Welcome, Iosif Aleksandrovich!

 




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24.11.2016 - Letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph, published on 24 November 2016

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph, published on 24 November 2016


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23.03.2016 - Letter to the Editor of The Times, sent on 22 March

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