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Nikolai Zabolotsky

Books by this author: Selected Poems
  • About
  • Nikolay Alekseyevich Zabolotsky (1903-1958), poet, children’s writer and translator, was born into a family that had only just risen above its peasant origins: his father was a local agronomist (agricultural adviser) and his mother had been a schoolteacher. He grew up in the village of Sernur and the small town of Urzhum, in the rural province of Vyatka. By the age of seven, he had apparently chosen his future career. 

    After a good but unremarkable education at school, he became an indigent student first of medicine in Moscow, and then of literature at the Herzen Educational Institute in Petrograd during the famine stricken years following the Revolution. He was briefly tempted by academia, but he was determined to become a professional writer. 

    With some hardships, he achieved this goal – pursuing it with an innate stubbornness: a victim of Stalin’s censorship, he was arrested in 1938, spent six and a half years in prison and two more in exile. Yet he survived and (perhaps uniquely) managed to re-establish himself as a writer. Personally unobtrusive, courteous and fastidious, of clerkly demeanour – the very opposite of the popular notion of the inspired Bohemian – he was driven till, literally, his last day of life by the overwhelming sense of what he could do, and what it was his responsibility to do, in poetry.

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