Yevgeny Yevtushenko has left the planet.
I speak and read no Russian, so I can't say I know his poetry, though I've read a great deal of it in translation. Having discussed poetry and the Russian language with Russians in Russia, I know that what you and I read in English is a pale shadow of the original.
Still. In 1961, Yevtushenko wrote a poem after a move to raise a memorial at Babi Yar, a ravine in Kiev, where 33,771 (Stop! Read that number out loud: Thirty-three thousand. Seven hundred. Seventy one) Jews were murdered by the Nazis, was blocked by anti-Semites. Speaking out like that was dangerous. But he loved Russia and knew that she was, or should be, better than that.
You can read "Babi Yar" here. And I really think you should.
Yevtushenko was a brilliant poet and almost as brilliant a politician, as witness the fact that he survived the Soviet Union when so many other brilliant poets did not. I vividly remember when he first came to the United States in the Sixties at the height of the Cold War. At that time, everything was seen as East-West competition and dissident poets were viewed in America as points for Our Side. So all officialdom was hoping he'd have harsh things to say about the USSR. Maybe he'd even defect!
And what did he do? Smile and nod, say nice things, and go drinking with fishermen in Alaska. Afterward, he said that was the best part of America.
To which I can only say:Damn straight, Yevgeny!
And since we're talking about Russian poets....