Today is the birthday of poet Joseph Brodsky, born this day in St. Petersburg, Russia. His poetry treats such universal topics as life, death, and the meaning of existence.
Brodsky’s early poetry won critical acclaim, but the Soviet government considered him a loafer and sentenced him to five years of hard labor for “social parasitism.” His sentence was commuted when prominent literary figures protested. In 1972, Brodsky moved to the U.S. as an exile. He lectured at several universities while continuing to write poetry. His early works, including Verses and Poems (1965) and A Halt in the Waste Land (1970), were translated in 1973. In 1986, he published History of the Twentieth Century and won the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year. He was poet laureate of the U.S. from 1991 to 1992.
Brodsky died on January 28, 1996.