Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996), winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Leningrad and began writing poetry at the age of eighteen. Anna Akhmatova soon recognized in the young poet the most gifted lyric voice of his generation. In March 1964, however, Mr. Brodsky was sentenced to five years in exile in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia. His sentence was commuted two years later because of internal and international protests. On June 4, 1972, Mr. Brodsky became an involuntary exile from his native country. After brief stays in Vienna and London, he went to the United States. Joseph Brodsky was Poet in Residence at the University of Michigan and Visiting Professor at Queens College, Columbia University, New York University, Smith College, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and Mount Holyoke College. At the time of his death, he was Andrew Mellon Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke. Mr. Brodsky served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991 and 1992. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he received many awards and honors, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. Joseph Brodsky: Selected Poems, translated by George L. Kline and with a foreword by W. H. Auden, was published in London in 1973 and in New York the following year. His works also include A Part of Speech (FSG, 1980), a collection of poetry; Less Than One (FSG, 1986), a collection of essays that won the National Book Critics Award for Criticism; and a volume of poems, To Urania (FSG, 1988). He is also author of the play Marbles (FSG, 1989); of Watermark, a book-length essay on the city of Venice (FSG, 1992); and of On Grief and Reason (FSG 1996), a collection of essays. An Age Ago (FSG, 1988) is a volume of poems by nineteenth-century Russian poets, selected and with a foreword by Mr. Brodsky. So Forth, Joseph Brodsky’s final volume of poetry, was published by FSG in 1998. In 2000, FSG published Collected Poems in English. Joseph Brodsky died at his home in Brooklyn, New York, on January 28, 1996.
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