Joseph Brodsky gets pride of place at Keele University

Brodsky's daughter, who lives in the UK, visited the ceremony at Waterstones Piccadilly.

Brodsky's daughter, who lives in the UK, visited the ceremony at Waterstones Piccadilly.

AP
A sculpture of the Nobel Prize-winning poet has been donated to Keele University

March 30 saw the unveiling of a sculpture to one of the great modern Russian poets, Joseph Brodsky, at the Waterstones Piccadilly Russian Bookshop. With the support of President of the Russian Poets Fund, Professor Valentina Polukhina, the bust will be exhibited in central London, before being transferred to Keele University for permanent display.

The monument to Brodsky, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987, was created and donated by the Russian sculptor Kirill Bobylev, with support from Russian Maecenas magazine, the Russian Heritage Committee, the Russian Embassy and Keele University Russian Poets Fund.

A bust of Joseph Brodsky created by Kirill Bobylev. Source: Press photoA bust of Joseph Brodsky created by Kirill Bobylev. Source: Press photo

The project began early in 2015, when Bobylev, an aspiring sculptor, took part in a St. Petersburg competition called “Joseph Brodsky: The Return” to design a monument to the writer. His design was originally going to be installed on a building facing Vasilyevsky Island, but the competition was ultimately cancelled. However, he continued working on the sculpture, exploring more about Brodsky’s personality and his contribution to world literature.

“I concentrate on my subject’s entire personality when I’m working on a portrait sculpture,” says Bobylev. “In Brodsky’s case, I spent countless hours watching interviews with him, reading his masterpieces, and exploring the way he infused his own character into his poetry. Brodsky was a huge source of inspiration for many people – myself included.”

Ultimately, Bobylev decided to donate his work to a place that has a strong affinity with Brodsky. Keele University’s Professor Polukhina, who also supported the donation, is internationally renowned as a Brodsky specialist. She has a particular interest in bringing Russian literature to an English-speaking audience and has organized visits from Russian writers – including Brodsky himself in 1979 and1985 – to UK universities since 1976. The position of Russian Poet in Residence at Keele University, as well as the Russian Poets Fund, were established as a result of her efforts.

Brodsky will be in good company at the university, which has several sculptures of Russian authors that have been commissioned or donated over the last 50 years.

Read more: Plaque to Russian poet Joseph Brodsky unveiled in London

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