Poet’s wide soul

Union State Award laureate in the field of literature and art, Ivan Yurkin, to help young talents

This year, the prestigious award has gone to the authors and performers behind the Where Viburnum Blooming musical album: the soloist and head of the Syabry Vocal-Instrumental Ensemble, Anatoly Yarmolenko; composer Oleg Yeliseenkov; and poet Ivan Yurkin. Each has independently decided on how to use their prize money, with Mr. Yurkin investing some into a private charitable foundation supporting talented young people.


To understand the spiritual impulse of the poet, it’s necessary to understand the significance of the motherland for him. He was born and grew up where Smolensk and Mogilev Regions meet, with their bathhouse standing directly in the neutral zone. However, neighbours never divided themselves by nationality, working together, participating in holidays and festivals and dreaming of the future together. They also jointly defended the homeland. The poet’s father, Zakhar Kupreevich, reached Berlin but returned home disabled and soon died. From the age of two, Ivan was brought up by his mother, Eva, alone. 

Ivan recollects his school years fondly, saying, “My primary school was situated nearby, while the secondary school was in the district centre of Khotimsk, seven kilometres away. We had to travel there in the morning and then return in the evenings. As a pupil, I walked much on foot. I’m especially grateful to our teachers, as they taught us to love our homeland, imparting a desire to act for its good.” 

Mr. Yurkin’s path to adult life started there and, decades later, he realised what he wished to convey through poetic language: his love for his native land, family, women and children. His recollections of his mother, his native land and its residents are always a source of inspiration. He tells us, “My attitude towards my native land has not changed in all these years. Everything with which it’s connected remains exciting.” 

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that, after learning of the ­Union State Award, Mr. Yurkin knew how he wanted to use it. Part of the awarded money is being spent on the establishment of a charity to support talented youngsters in Khotimsk District. The idea gained strength after talking to the regional intelligentsia at a meeting at the local museum. They came to the consensus that young people urgently need a cultural alternative to the Internet. Moreover, the district has many talented young people. Some time ago, Mr. Yurkin supported a promising young man and, five years later, he gave the poet his first pamphlet of poems. Some young people wish to try their talent in drama but many initiatives fail to be continued. 

“We should give young people more opportunities,” Mr. Yurkin stresses. “This won’t be my personal fund: it will operate under the auspices of the District Executive Committee. I hope other famous people won’t refuse to financially support my idea. I’ve already sent a letter with the proposal to the District Executive Committee.”

As regards his family, Ivan’s wife Nadezhda is truly his muse, while being his most avid critic. She worked as an editor and a journalist and can give truly professional advice. Nadezhda fully supports the idea of the fund. Moreover, Ivan isn’t taking any fees for his musical hits, giving his royalties to ‘development’ projects, to promote the publication of literary works. Not long ago, he released his symbolically entitled Springs, which contains dozens of poems. Many may inspire new songs.

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