''Yevgeny Yevtushenko was like a natural disaster, a hurricane with the pet name ''Zhenya''

The author of the poem Kazan University and the last in the galaxy of the poets of the sixties passed away

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the last of the Mohicans, the last in the galaxy of the poets of the sixties, has passed away. His life and work were connected with Kazan — the poem Kazan University written for the 100th anniversary of Lenin changed the understanding of many people to the poems created for ''the special date''. Yevtushenko loved Kazan, his close friends lived here — a journalist and poet Galina Svintsova and her husband, a poet, writer, singer and director, people's artist of Tatarstan Eduard Treskin.

''He was like a hurricane''

Eduard Treskin, a student of the Kazan State University and of the Conservatory at that time, first saw Yevtushenko at a demonstration — a column of students of the university was moving to the Freedom Square, as always, by cheerful dashes. It was 1 May 1969. They stopped near Vishnevsky Street, and Eduard noticed an excitement ahead. Ladies, rustling in then fashionable light nylon raincoats, surrounded a tall man.

A friend of the wife rushed to him (the wife, Galina Svintsova, injured her leg and didn't go to the demonstration). The girl begged Treskin to get an autograph from Yevtushenko for her. Treskin started making his way to the poet: he could not refuse a favour to a lady, he was brought up this way. Later he wrote in one of his novels: ''Yevgeny Yevtushenko was like a natural disaster, a hurricane with a pet name ''Zhenya''. But this hurricane was unusually handsome, he made women fall in love with him by his eyes.''

To the request to give an autograph Yevtushenko responded: ''I give autographs only on my books, I'm not Edita Pyekha, after all.'' And then Treskin said the phrase that largely determined the future of both him and his wife. He asked to see the poems of Galya. Suddenly, Evtushenko agreed and simply said, ''Come, I am staying in the hotel Volga.'' But that's not all! He gave Treskin a Winston cigarette — an unprecedented luxury at that time.

The cigarette stub was the proof to Galya that Eduard spoke to Yevtushenko, she initially did not believe it, but after seeing the Winston cigarette, she got paled. By the way, not only she, a graduate of the famous 6th school and the best of Russian philologist of the city Feodosy Novikov, was writing poems at that time. Treskin also was.

Eduard brought Evtushenko a notebook with poems of Galya, the poet asked him to call back and — surprise – he agreed to come for a visit. He came to them the next morning, interrupting a meeting with a Kazan poet Nikolay Belyaev. He just got on tram together with Eduard and came.

They sat at the table, Yevtushenko asked Galya to read her poems. She read, including her translation of the poem by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz Wolf, Svintsova just came back from her student internship in Poland. Yevtushenko read his version of this poem. He praised the poems of Galya. Then he read many of his, including relevant then Tanks going to Prague.

A work trip to Kazan

Yevtushenko at this time was in disgrace. Having decided to rectify the situation a little, he volunteered to write a poem about the student period of Lenin, taking for this a work trip to Kazan. First, he came to the regional party committee, he was helped to get into the archive – he needed documents from the vault. He visited the newspaper Komsomol member of the Tatar Republic. He also visited the university, and before 1 May he decided to go with the students to the demonstration in order to feed on emotions.

In May 1969, Yevgeny Yevtushenko was in Kazan for ten days. He decides to dedicate one evening to speak to the students of the university. That day, the auditorium admitted as many people as it seemed it was impossible to admit. Treskin came to the hotel Volga to accompany the poet to the university, and he noticed that he was irritated. Then Yevtushenko explained to him that he always swore before a concert — it was a kind of recharging.

A poet took some of his collections with himself, which he gave away to new friends. Unfortunately, Galya and Eduard did not receive the book. But Yevtushenko promised to send them the book and kept his word.

When the poem was finished, Yevtushenko read it in April 1970 in Kazan. The first listeners were the students of KSU. Kazan University with all its ideologized bias, however, is the poem not only about Lenin but also about people who in one way or another were related to the oldest university.

''Yevtushenko was reading amazingly, temperamentally and artistically,'' recalls Treskin. One who spoke the Tatar language was surprised by how well Evgeny pronounced Tatar words. Since then, the poet fell in love with Kazan, he often came to give performances in our city. Friendship with Treskin and Svintsova went through all his life.

A few years ago, Treskin organised a performance of the poet in the hall of the Opera house. The hall was more than full, the poet, already not very healthy, was reading poems for a few hours, and each of them was drowned in the thunder of applause. ''My life is very much connected with Kazan, I feel at home here,'' he said then. The evening was called ''Life as adventure''. The life of the poet was really so. His poems were heard in 97 countries, they have been translated into 72 languages of the world. ''The life of Eugenio is a bag stuffed with bullets and kisses,'' wrote about Yevtushenko a Latin poet.

''Last time I spoke with Yevtushenko on December 31 last year, I congratulated him on the coming new year and the anniversary of his wedding with Masha. The poet was in America at this time, we talked briefly, he asked about my family, I told him about how Galya was doing, the daughter Polina, that she made a film. We agreed to meet when he comes to Moscow… Yesterday, when it was reported that Yevtushenko was hospitalised, my heart felt something, I had a feeling of that,'' said Eduard Treskin.

Poet and essayist Lidiya Grigorieva, acquainted with Yevtushenko since his visit to Kazan, now living in London, wrote on her page on Facebook: ''Goodbye, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich! You are gone. But you are still here.'' Yevtushenko bequeathed to bury him in his favourite Peredelkino. Not just the Poet passed away. The whole era passed. And it is not pathos.

There were used the photos published by the newspaper Kazanskiye Istorii

Yevgeny Yevtushenko among the journalists of the newspaper Vechernaya Kazan 1970. Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading the poem Kazan University in the university Informal meeting: Lidiya Grigoryeva, Eduard Treskin, Galina Svintsova, Ruslan Bushkov
and Yevgeny Yevtushenko A performance at the Kazan University in 2010 A performance at the Kazan University in 2010 A performance at the Kazan University in 2010 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014 Kazan, 2014
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  • Yevgeny Yevtushenko among the journalists of the newspaper Vechernaya Kazan
  • 1970. Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading the poem Kazan University in the university
  • Informal meeting: Lidiya Grigoryeva, Eduard Treskin, Galina Svintsova, Ruslan Bushkov and Yevgeny Yevtushenko
  • A performance at the Kazan University in 2010
  • A performance at the Kazan University in 2010
  • A performance at the Kazan University in 2010
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
  • Kazan, 2014
By Tatyana Mamaeva