What is known in the world about Belarusian classical literature?

Along the path of Pesnyar

Literary Spain is known by Cervantes and Don Quixote, Belgium by Till Eulenspiegel, Italy by Dante and his Divine Comedy, England by Shakespeare. What is known in the world about Belarusian classical literature? The answer is evident: literary Belarus is associated primarily with Yanka Kupala. The traces of our Belarusian ‘Pesnyar’ can be found all over the world. During his life, in 1932, a public library in Brazil was named after him and the Belarusian Cultural Centre in India also bears the name of Yanka Kupala.

A monument to the poet is installed in New York’s Arrow Park, close to the figures of Walt Whitman and Taras Shevchenko. In 2012, a square in Israeli Ashdod was named after Yanka Kupala, while two years ago, a memorial plaque honouring the Belarusian classical writer was unveiled in Riga. In 2017, a monument to the poet appeared in Tatarstan, with representatives of the Belarusian diaspora providing assistance in this endeavour.

The instalment of the Kupala monument in Pechishchi, where the poet used to live during his evacuation, and where his museum is currently operating, is only one of the many initiatives to be realised by the Yanka Kupala State Li-terary Museum in Minsk together with the Belarusian diaspora in Russia. These days, Yelena Lyashkovich, the Director of the museum and Sergey Kandybovich, Chair of the Council of the Federal National and Cultural Autonomy of Belarusians in Russia, have signed a cooperative agreement. According to Ms. Lyashkovich, this document is of a practical nature. “I’m very pleased that collaboration between our museum and the Belarusians of Russia is beginning so fruitfully.”

The design of the monument is being prepared by the sculptor Pavel Voinitsky [he is also an author of the Yanka Kupala memorial plaque in Riga] free of charge. Now, we need to find an architect who will develop the concept on land improvement in Pechishchi.

…Yanka Kupala found himself in Pechishchi in September 1941. In June 1942, he left for Moscow to celebrate his 60th birthday in his circle of writers. On June 28th, a tragic telegram arrived in Pechishchi telling of his death… Thirty three years later, Russia’s only museum to this writer was opened here, in Tatarstan.

A lamp shade, a bed, a bookcase, chairs and a loud-speaker have been preserved in his flat from Kupala’s era. Remarkably, at that time, there were only two loud-speakers in Pechishchi: one — in the rural council and the other one in Kupala’s flat. The museum’s exhibition also showcases Kupala’s suitcase, a walking cane, a pipe and some of his clothes. The weighty contribution to the collection of Pesnyar’s memory was made by the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus to Tatarstan and the Chairman of the Association of Kazan Belarusians, Sergey Marudenko. He has headed this association for more than 11 years and is a frequent guest to Belarus. “I’m also a Belarusian, being born in Mogilev Region but found myself in Kazan by a twist of fate. My elder sister now resides in Minsk and my younger sister lives in Mogilev, so I don’t forget about my homeland and visit at every opportunity,” he tells us.
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