The story involves two Russian poets from the Brezhnev era, Voznesenski & Yevtushenko. They both came to Minnesota in the years 1972 and 1973. I was present when something happened to Yevtushenko and present again at a partty that Voznezenski attended. Yevtushenko arrived with a jetload of Soviet reporters and protocol men, Voznesenski under the cover of night, with less than a day's notice. Of the two I admired Voznesenski more. He had fire, and great passion, Yevtushenko was more concerned about pleasing people.Voznesenski & Yevtushenko A group of Ukrainian dissidents pamphleted Yevtushenko’s appearance at Macalester Fieldhouse, blasting the poet for putting a sensitive face on Soviet brutality. Yevtushenko smiled as if to say, I have nothing to do with this. He was splendrous in his Wranglers, and drank from a crystal pitcher of milk. Suddenly the protesters charged the stage knocking the poet down and upsetting the dais. I along with others stood to block the attackers’ escape. Yevtushenko stood on the platform and blinked away milk. When word came of Voznesenski's visa, Northrop Auditorium was cordoned off so a mere 50 people dotted the 5,000 seats while, standing like a speck below, the poet groaned like a swinging pendulum muttering the grim toll of 'Goya' and other poems in the only language he knew. No one understood him, yet all were afraid. Afterward they got together at Chester Anderson's to boast and jostle and drink, Voznesenski alone with a puzzled frown on his face. Several beers later, I took to the bathroom, where Chester's golden retriever lay on a pink poof rug. I stepped over the dog to pee. Behind me, Voznesenski crept into the room And knelt by the dog a foot from my stream Splashing against the porcelain lip. He scratched the dogs ears and smiled serapically His two eyes closed, his face held out, the dew like communion from God on his face, as if finally, finally free.
Yevtushenko's account of the incident in his poetic autobiography, "Almost at the End," says he was beaten and kicked. The people who rushed the stage, he says, were Canadian and USA children of Nazi collaborators.