Feb 28, 2006

Chuvash: Noted Poet Gennady Aigi Dies at 71

Gennady Aigi, a nominee for the Nobel Prize in literature and who wrote in the Chuvash language, died last Friday of an unspecified illness. Aigi began publishing in the indigenous Chuvash language in 1949
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian poet Gennady Aigi, who was often considered a contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, has died at age 71, news agencies reported Friday.

Aigi died Tuesday in Moscow of an unspecified illness and on Friday was buried in his native village of Shaimurzino, in the Volga River area about 650 kilometres east of Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

His poems, written in the indigenous language of the Chuvashia region, were translated into scores of other languages and Aigi himself was a noted translator into Chuvash of poets of other countries.

Born in 1934, his father was a village teacher who set an early example for Aigi's future by translating the works of Alexander Pushkin into Chuvash.

Aigi began publishing in Chuvash regional publications in 1949 and became regarded as a member of the avant garde. His first book came out in 1958 and in the same year he was rejected from the Gorky Literature Institute "for writing hostile books of poems that undermine the basis of the socialist-realist method."

He began writing in Russian in 1960 at the advice of novelist Boris Pasternak, but his Russian-language poems were only sparsely published in the Soviet Union and he became better known abroad than at home. His books began appearing in the Soviet Union amid the reforms of the late 1980s.

Many of Aigi's poems are characterized by short - even one-word - lines and terse pastoral images such as misty fields and smoke rising from the chimneys of peasant huts.

In an interview published by Russia's New Times this month, Aigi said he had little interest in the post-modern poetry of recent years. He also lamented that poets were abandoning the aim of writing with moral authority, saying "(now) we have swagger, a rope to pull, and ambition to pursue. I still remember the cynical joke: a poet is no different from other dogs, except that he is a talking dog."

Survivors include his sister, author Eva Lisina, and his son Alexei, a noted composer.

Source: CJAD