I received a call from a literary friend

late some evening in the ‘70s –

I forget the year and the day – to tell me

Yevtushenko would be reading his poems,

the following evening, in Lecture Room 35

at Liverpool Polytechnic.

It was confidential. If they knew,

Zionists would protest

on behalf of the refuseniks.

I thought of his ‘Babi Yar’ –

‘I see myself an ancient Israelite…

And that is why I call myself a Russian!’

Either way, I took no action.




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  1. #1 by John Huddart - January 8th, 2014 at 15:53

    I had forgotten Yevtushenko, who was the darling of Life International and the colour supplements. How you wanted to love his poems which some translator had hewn out of the Russian with the thoughtfulness of a cement mixer!

    The ending with its confluence of cultures and its final decisive line is one of your finest!

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