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Joseph Brodsky

Award: 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the 5th Russian born writer to get the prize.

Born: 24/05/1940 in Leningrad, the then USSR

Died: 28/01/1996 in New York City of heart attack

Citizen: Originally Russian, but expelled from Soviet Union in 1972. settled in USA and became a US Citizen with the help of famous poet W H Auden.

Language: Russian, English

Brodsky's father was a professional photographer and mother was a professional interpreter. His childhood was spent amid poverty and squalor. He was a disobedient and unruly boy. At the age of 15, he left school. His education was largely home made. He learned Polish and English so that he could read Milosz and John Donne. Poetry was in his veins and he was deeply interested in religion, philosophy. Brodsky was very independent minded. He once remarked that he loathed Lenin not because of his political philosophy but because his presence was everywhere.

 At the age of 15, Brodsky had already started writing poems and was marked in literary circles for his poems- The Jewish Cemetery near Leningrad" and "Pilgrim". Soviet establishment pounced upon Brodsky describing his poetry as pornographic and anti-Soviet. For his parasitism, he was sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment in Arctic region which was 350 miles from Leningrad. The confinement was a boon in disguise as he devoted exclusively to reading and writing. In 1965, the sentence was commuted under pressure from writers and international community.

On 4th June, 1972, Brodsky was expelled from Soviet Union by putting him in a plane bound for Vienna. From there, he migrated to USA where he taught in Yale and Michigan universities. While in Paris in a teaching assignment, he fell in love with and married a student Maria Sozzani.

Brodsky was immensely versatile and accomplished and had wide ranging themes. His poems emphasized the relationship between a poet and the socirty.

Influences: John Donne, Czeslaw Milosz,  W H Auden, Robert Frost, Derek Walcott, Osip Mandelshtam.

Works: A Part of Speech(1977), To Urania(1988), Less Than One( 1986), Marbles(1989), Watermark(1992),

Joseph Brodsky

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