Andrei Voznesensky has passed away in Moscow, age 77. Robert Bly has written about Voznesensky in a piece collected in Reaching Out to the World: New & Selected Prose Poems:
Andrei Voznesensky Reading in Vancouver
Andrei Voznesensky has a curious look like a wood animal, one that often lives not far from marshes, near places where the deer sink in up to their knees. Waiting to read while the translation is being spoken, he sits with an utterly expressionless face — he is a pool unstirred by wind … hair falling over the pale forehead is a little like birch branches swaying over the water….
His shoes are elegant Italian cowboy shoes, patent leather. Black trousers and a blue shirt, with a folded silk tie always to protect the throat.
He strolls slowly toward the microphone, his hands put in slit front pockets, the thumbs pointing toward each other. As he begins to read, his knees bend, the right hand swings back and forth like the Neanderthal man complimenting himself after having thrown the first stone.
He looks straight forward, bending over slightly — a fantastic and resonant voice booms out, like enormous dynamos, like immense waterfalls falling, tremendous winds in the west sweeping up, swirling winds carrying bits of chairs, barndoors, dust from chickenhouse floors, fragments of wooden grave markers set up by old Carnation-condensed-milk-drinking trappers; the whirlwind veers off the gravel road onto stubble fields….
Sometimes the deep voice starts with a jolt, brought up from underneath by the right arm swinging forward …
then it drops suddenly into the most matter-of-fact tone, emotionless, muttering….
The face has much mother-quality, his poems are mother-quality on fire, tenderness in flames, his voice is rushing water on fire, he is saying, it’s OK to be on fire, OK for water, it’s OK even for socialist concrete —
The voice is coming from deep in his chest that is bent forward like a javelin about to be thrown. It is the voice of some deep-throated woman shouting at last, her voice rattling the dishes, men covering their ears in the basement, or turning near the kitchen door and going back to the barn…. How good it feels to be able to shout about the pet chicken killed by men when you were a girl … to shout about the doll bureau painted with roses given to that other girl … how good it feels to shout at last!
According to the BBC, “In 1976, he had a minor planet named after him.” One circling a distant star, I imagine, where the inhabitants are perpetually young and every poet declaims his or her poems to packed stadiums.