No Comment — February 6, 2008, 12:35 am

Celebrating the Life of Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky was one of the greatest poets of the last century. His work can be celebrated for many things, but for me Brodsky stands out especially as a bridge between cultures. He hailed from the same corner of the earth as some others who played this role of intermediacy, such as Adam Mickiewicz in the century before, or Czeslaw Milosz, his close contemporary. And like Milosz, Brodsky made his way to the new world, immersed himself in yet another new language and culture, and was an astonishing success in that one, too. His successes and recognitions are too many to enumerate, but the fact that he received the Nobel Prize and became Poet Laureate of the United States cannot be passed by. And in a fundamental sense, it is not just Brodsky’s poetry that is magical, but also his life that was both magical and poetic. It was not poetic in a trite, sweet Victorian sort of way. It spoke a poetry of quiet, stubborn conviction, nobility of spirit and a heroism in things both small and great.

To the poetry of Brodsky’s life belongs this scene from his trial in a Soviet court on charges of parasitism (??????????) in 1964.

?????: ? ?????? ????? ???? ??????????????
????????: ????. ????-??????????.
?????: ? ??? ??? ???????, ??? ?? ????? ??? ????????? ??? ? ???????
????????: ?????. (??? ??????). ? ??? ????????? ???? ? ???? ??????????????
?????: ? ?? ??????? ??????
????????: ????? ?????: ????? ???? ??????? ?? ???????? ??????? ???, ??? ???????… ??? ????…
????????: ? ?? ?????, ??? ??? ?????? ????????????.
?????: ? ??? ???
????????: ? ?????, ???… (??????????)… ?? ????…

Cissie Dore Hill does a wonderful job of rendering this into English (but I have tinkered with it a bit):

Court: And what is your profession, in general?
Brodsky: I am a poet and a poetic translator.
Court: Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?
Brodsky: No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind?
Court: Did you study this?
Brodsky: This?
Court: How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare… teach?
Brodsky: I didn’t think you could get this from school.
Court: How then?
Brodsky: I think that it… comes from God.

Joseph’s friends, led by Mikhail Baryshnikov, are organizing a benefit dinner and concert to support the Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund, and I am pleased to be among them. The event will be at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, 2008 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 57th Street in New York. I’d like to extend an invitation to all my readers to attend and to support this worthy event. The program and information on securing tickets follows.

Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, Misha Rachlevsky, Conductor, Julia Kogan, Soprano

Eskender Bekmambetov, “There…” a cycle of songs based on poems by Joseph Brodsky, commissioned by the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Divertimento in D, K. 136

Franz Joseph Haydn, Quartet in F Major, Op. 3, No. 5: II. Serenade, Quartet in D Major, Op. 64, No. 5: IV. Vivace

Alfred Schnittke, “Moz-Art à la Haydn,” for violins and orchestra

Concert and pre-concert reception: $150 ($120 tax-deductible)
Supper, Concert and Reception: $350 ($230 tax-deductible)
Benefactor: $500 ($370 tax-deductible)
For tickets or more information call 212 645 3346 or

The Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization

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