Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ilya Kutik


["Fine-bearded Ilya Kutik & his wife, center, at home with his circle of friends, philologists, translators, poets & philosophy teachers, Moscow December 16, 1985. Dostoyevski-eyed youth in stripped sweater had gone absent without leave for the evening from the Army to meet me and ask after Neal Cassady, Kerouac's hero, On The Road" (Allen Ginsberg, caption from out-of-print Danish edition: Fotografier 1947-87)]

A recent posting on our Facebook page, but perhaps many didn't see it. Here's Ilya Kutik recollecting his encounters with Allen and providing some background to a classic Allen photograph - the Russian connection.

"Re our friendship with Allen, but probably you know the story. In short, when Ginsberg appeared in Moscow in 1985, the Soviet Writers Union was afraid to organize him any readings in either capital, and sent him to Georgia, for the celebrations of Titian Tabidze, a great 20th-century poet who died in Stalin's purges. I was there too. We became buddies, and when Allen had returned from his Georgian exile to Moscow, he asked me to contact (Yevgeny) Yevtushenko who had promised, according to Allen, to help him with some public reading. But Yevtushenko's phone number was "dead", as all his other friends' phone lines, and I offered him to do his reading in my and my first wife's studio.
That was the Andropov's reign, and Soviet KGB were very much alert. My studio was packed with our underground literati, as a small can with sprats. At 3.a.m. somebody rung my door, and there he was, Allen's official interpreter (obviously from the KGB), from whom Ginsberg was able to run off while coming (by subway!) to my place. Standing in the door, the guy required (sic!) that all those present submit to him their (tape) recorders, but I told him to fuck off (exact wording!) and the guy left. When, at 4.30 a.m., people were leaving my apartment and I was trying to catch a cab for Allen, there were about 2o totally identical men with cameras on both sides of my street, within a distance of 3 meters from each other, taking snapshots..Allen made his own photos of that evening that he later sent to me from the U.S. with (Andrei) Voznesensky. There were many, and some of them, I have learned from various people, appear from time to time in Ginsberg photo shows in Europe and elsewhere. Does anyone know where I can find them in the U.S? (mine were left in Moscow)."

Ilya has said he will expand on this memory. We look forward to reading his expanded account.

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