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Overview (3)

Born in Moscow, USSR [now Russia]
Died in Peredelkino, Moscow Oblast, Russia  (heart attack)
Birth NameIsabella Akhatovna Akhmadulina

Mini Bio (1)

Bella Akhmadulina was a prominent Russian poet, one of the bold female voices in contemporary Russian literature, whose ecstatic performances attracted audiences of thousands to her appearances at concert halls and stadiums.

She was born Isabella Akhatovna Akhmadulina on April 10, 1937 in Moscow, Russia. Her father, Akhat Valeevich Akhmadulin, and mother, Nadezhda Makarovna Lazareva, had mixed ancestry of Tatar, Russian, Georgian, and Italian heritage. Akhmadulina finished high school and attended the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow. There she suffered from political pressure and was temporarily expelled, because she supported Boris Pasternak. Her talent prevailed, and after a yearlong hiatus she returned to college, graduating in 1960 as a writer.

Akhmadulina came to prominence during the post-Stalin thaw, when a loosening of censorship led to a flowering of the arts. Her first poems were published in 1955 in the official Soviet magazine "October". Her deliciously fresh early poetry of the 1950s-60s was part of the revival during the cultural "Thaw" initiated by Nikita Khrushchev. Along with poets Yevgeniy Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, Robert Rozhdestvensky and Bulat Okudzhava, she played an important role in the liberation of the collective consciousness after decades of repressions under dictatorship of Iosif Stalin. Akhmadulina was sometimes compared with Anna Akhmatova for her sincere feminine style. But later, after Nikita Khrushchev was dismissed by Leonid Brezhnev, the "Thaw" ended and her style was misjudged by Soviet critics as eroticism. Akhmadulina was barred from the Writer's Union and banned from publication at the same time as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents. In response to the ending of the "Thaw" she titled her next book of poetry "Oznob" (Fever, 1968), it was published in Frankfurt, Germany, and in the USA under the title "Fever and other poems" (1969).

Akhmadulina was a staunch proponent for freedom of speech and human rights in the Soviet Union. She publicly defended Andrei Sakharov, Lev Kopelev, Georgi Vladimov', Vladimir Voinovich and other dissidents. When she was banned from the Soviet press and media, Akhmadulina delivered her statements through international press and radio. He poetry has been translated into English, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, French, German, Polish, Czech, Danish, Armenian, Georgian, Latvian, Kurdish, Romanian and many other languages worldwide. "There is only one honorable reason for writing poetry - you can't do without it," she said in an interview during her first visit to the United States in 1977.

The main themes of Akhmadulina's works are friendship, love, and relations between people. Her sensational public appearances, startling images and intensely personal style, couched in classical verse forms, established her as one of the Soviet Union's leading literary talents. As she matured, her themes became more philosophical, even religious, or they dwelled on the nature of poetic language. "O magic theater of a poem,/spoil yourself, wrap up in sleepy velvet./I don't matter," she wrote in one characteristic verse. Besides her poetry and prose, she wrote numerous essays about Russian writers, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Vladimir Vysotskiy, Bulat Okudzhava and Evgeni Evtushenko, among others. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky, once placed Akhmadulina above Russian poets of her generation and described her verses as a "treasure of Russian poetry." Like so many Russian writers, Akhmadulina stood for more than literary accomplishment. To Russian audiences she embodied the soul of poetry and expressed, in her clashes with the authorities, the moral imperative behind Russian literature.

Bella Akhmadulina received numerous awards and decorations from the Soviet and Russian state. She was made Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Literature (1977). She was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples (USSR, 1984), "Nosside" Prize (Italy, 1992), "Pushkin" Prize (Germany, 1994), Presidential Prize (Russia, 1998). She was awarded the U.S.S.R. State Prize in 1989 and the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2004. Despite her shaky official reputation, she was always recognized as one of the Soviet Union's literary treasures and a classic poet in the long line extending from Lermontov and Pushkin.

Her talent, her feminine beauty and a multitude of her high profile romantic affairs, sometimes comparable to that of Marilyn Monroe, made her bohemian life a stark contrast with the Soviet gloom. Beautiful and charismatic, Akhmadulina married a series of prominent artists, starting with Yevgeniy Yevtushenko, whom she met at a student gathering in 1954. She made an indelible first impression, with her "round, childish face," thick red hair tied in a braid and "slanting Tatar eyes flashing," as he recalled in his 1963 memoir, "A Precocious Autobiography." "This was Bella Akhmadulina, whom I married a few weeks later." She was seventeen, and he was twenty one. Although Mr. Yevtushenko wrote a series of love poems to her, the marriage did not last, and Ms. Akhmadulina would later claim not to remember the relationship. In the 1960s, she had a passionate romance with actor Vasiliy Shukshin who was her partner in film and TV performances. Later, she went on to marry the short-story writer Yuriy Nagibin, then the children's writer Gennadi Mamlin. She also had a relationship with director Eldar Kuliyev which produced a daughter, Elizaveta Kulieva, who also became a poet. In her later years, she was married to Boris Messerer, a notable Russian theater and film artist.

Bella Akhmadulina died of a heart failure on November 29, 2010, at her home in Peredelkino, a suburb of Moscow, Russia. Her death caused a considerable mourning in Russia. Thousands lined up to attend her funeral service at the Central House of Writers, then she was laid to rest near the tomb of Andrei Voznesensky in Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow. Russian president Medevdev paid tribute, he wrote that Akhmadulina's poetry was a "classic of Russian literature" and her death was an "irreparable loss."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Family (1)

Spouse Boris Messerer (1974 - 29 November 2010)  (her death)
Eldar Kuliev (1971 - ?)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Yuriy Nagibin (1960 - 1 November 1968)  (divorced)
Yevgeniy Yevtushenko (1954 - 1959)  (divorced)

Trivia (1)

Bella Akhmadulina had a relationship with actor Vasiliy Shukshin.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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