Authors: Bella Akhmadulina

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Russian poet

Author Works


Struna: Stikhi, 1962

Oznob: Izbrannye proizvedeniia, 1968 (Fever, and Other New Poems, 1969)

Uroki muzyki, 1969

Stikhi, 1975

Svecha, 1977

Metel’, 1977

Sny o Gruzii, 1977

Taina: Novye stikhi, 1983

Sad: Novye stikhi, 1987

Stikhotvoreniia, 1988

Izbrannoe: Stikhi, 1988

The Garden: New and Selected Poetry and Prose, 1990

Larets i kliuch, 1994

Griada kamnei: Stikhotvoreniia, 1957-1992, 1995

Zvuk ukazuiushchii: Izbrannye stikhotvoreniia, 1956-1992, 1995

Sozertsanie stekliannogo sharika: Novye stikhotvoreniia, 1997

Mig bytiia, 1997

Druzei moikh prekrasnye cherty, 1999

Zimniaia zamknutost, 1999

Nechaianie: Stikhi, dnevnik, 1996-1999, 2000

Stikhotvoreniia, esse, 2000

Vlechet menia starinnyi slog, 2000

Blazhenstvo bytiia: Stikhotvoreniia, 2001


Odnazhdy v dekabre: Rasskazy, esse, vospominaniia, 1996

Sochineniia, 1997 (3 volumes)


Izabella Akhatovna Akhmadulina (ak-mah-DEW-lee-nuh) is one of Russia’s foremost contemporary poets. Her career began during the period of relatively lax social politics after Joseph Stalin’s death, from 1953 to 1963, and she became famous as one of Moscow’s “New Wave” poets along with Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Bulat Okudzhava, Robert Rozhdestvensky, and Andrei Voznesensky.{$I[AN]9810001980}{$I[A]Akhmadulina, Bella}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Akhmadulina, Bella}{$I[geo]RUSSIA;Akhmadulina, Bella}{$I[tim]1937;Akhmadulina, Bella}

Akhmadulina was the only child of a Tatar father and a Russian-Italian mother. Bella’s mixed racial origins motivated her to travel throughout Central Asia as a young adult and to write about her “Asiatic blood,” a recurring theme in Fever, and Other New Poems. She graduated from high school in 1954, the same year in which she married Yevgeny Yevtushenko and began to work for the Soviet newspaper Metrostroevets. After her short-lived marriage to Yevtushenko ended, she married the writer Yuri Navigin, then Gennadi Mamlin, a writer, and finally the artist and stage designer Boris Messerer. She has two daughters, Elizaveta and Anna.

In 1955 Akhmadulina entered the Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow and published her first poem. She remained a student at the institute until 1960 but was subjected to temporary expulsion because of her indifference to politics. The well-known writer Pavel Antokolsky helped to reinstate the young student at the institute, but politics never became a concern in Akhmadulina’s creative expression.

In 1962 her first collection of poetry, Struna: Stikhi (the string), was published to much acclaim. Critics praised Akhmadulina for the formal precision of her verse; they compared her traditional rhyme and meter to those in the early works of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966). However, whereas Akhmatova’s poetry usually addresses itself to one reader, the beloved, Akhmadulina extends the reach of her verse to a wide audience that she addresses either in the second person or in general. Enjoying the immediate success of her first publication, Akhmadulina attended the Second All-Russian Congress of Writers as a delegate in 1965.

In 1968 her second collection, Fever, and Other New Poems brought fame to Akhmadulina. Critics noted her use of concrete objects such as rain, articles in an antique store, aspirin, and a car as subjects for her poems and figures for her subjective states of being. Some surmised that her subjective problems and emotional preoccupations may well veil her attitudes toward politics, but the objects she employs as subjects of her writing remain ostensibly apolitical. In this collection she begins to take issue with her inspiration to write; the poet and poetry–that is, metapoetic subjects–become the principal concern in her later work.

The series of collections that followed, between 1969 and 1977–Uroki muzyki (music lessons), Stikhi (verses), Svecha (the candle), Metel’ (the blizzard), and Sny o Gruzii (dreams of Georgia)–masterfully use verse to display and play out Akhmadulina’s admiration for such great nineteenth century poets as Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov, her identification with the emotional and lyrically intense Marina Tsvetayeva, and her view of nature as a force that is comparable to a muse. The poem “Music Lessons” is dedicated to Tsvetayeva. The candle, in the poem by the same title, represents the age before electricity, when master-poets wrote in an old language that is to be cherished and remembered. Georgia is a leitmotif that symbolizes Akhmadulina’s preoccupation with her Central Asian ancestry as well as her need for beautiful surroundings and liberating scenery.

In 1977 the American Academy of Arts and Literature elected Bella Akhmadulina as a member, but two years later the Soviet Union placed a tacit ban on her writing until 1983 for publishing in an unofficial literary almanac. She was forced to remain silent, but critics agree that the work she produced afterwards reached new levels of maturity and lyrical clarity. Taina: Novye stikhi (the secret: new poems), which was published in the Soviet Union in 1983, and Sad: Novye stikhi (the garden: new poems), published in 1987, reach metapoetic heights in their themes and attain concreteness and precision of detail in their language. In 1989 the Soviet Union awarded Bella Akhmadulina the State Prize in Literature, the highest in its order.

BibliographyBrown, Deming. Soviet Russian Literature Since Stalin. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Provides a historical context for the poet’s work and focuses on highlights of her career.Condee, Nancy. “Akhmadulina’s Poemy: Poems of Transformations and Origins.” Slavic and East European Journal 29, no. 2 (1985). Offers an interesting discussion of Akhmadulina’s longer poems.Ketchian, Sonia. The Poetic Craft of Bella Akhmadulina. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993. A well-informed analysis of the poet’s creative career; most of the discussion focuses on her later works.Maddock, Mary. Three Russian Women Poets. Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press, 1983. A good introduction to Akhmadulina’s biography and poetry.Rydel, Christine. “The Metapoetical World of Bella Akhmadulina.” Russian Literature Triquarterly 1 (1971). Gives a brief but thorough definition of metapoetics as it pertains to Akhmadulina.
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