Sunday, April 2, 2017


So here's something a bit different for the ol' blog.

I saw in the news this morning that the Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko died yesterday. I actually met Yevtushenko when I was a budding journalist at the University of South Florida. He came to campus to speak, and I covered his appearance for the student newspaper. I remember being excited about the opportunity to see him, because I was into poetry and some of his work had been featured on Joan Baez's album "Baptism," which I'd swiped from my parents' record cabinet and knew very well.

This morning I went to my files and dug out my original article, which, miraculously, I still have. And look -- it was published thirty years ago, almost to the day!

It's curious that I called him "a strong voice in Soviet literature for 20 years." He'd been around longer than that! Even that Joan Baez album was almost 20 years old by this point.

Anyway, I remember speaking with him briefly after his appearance and getting his autograph. He signed a manila folder I was carrying -- I don't have the autograph anymore, but as I recall he wrote "Yevtushenko" and a series of symbols, including a hammer and sickle.

And there you have it -- my Cold War brush with fame!


  1. Ms. e for ecstasy remembers this well as I went to see him. Sorry to hear of his loss. Your article takes me back...

  2. Thanks for sharing Steve. I am impressed.

    No, I'll not take the half of anything!
    Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!
    Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches-
    All these are mine! I'll accept no less!

  3. Wow! And strangely, I had such a yearning to hear Joan Baez's voice last night that I went in search of a good recording of Diamonds and Rust.
    We are all entangled somehow, like the roots of many trees, aren't we?

  4. you certainly have led an interesting life.

  5. It's not just a brush with the ol cold war. You get a look at yourself at a young age. You look at your writing and it has changed.

  6. That is very cool! I like his allusion to Russians writing and hearing the squeak of American pens - what a wonderfully artistic way to express that. Quite the interesting article you linked to, as well.

  7. That is wild. I'm so glad for your memory and your archives! I'm not familiar with his poetry but did read about him with interest today. Thanks, Steve!

  8. What an interesting article and a very interesting man. I love that last line in your article. I haven't thought of Mikhail Gorbachev in ages. I wonder what he is up to these days. I remember seeing him in a magazine ad for Louis Vuitton luggage a while back but that must have been 10 to 15 years ago.