Yunna Morits

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Yunna Morits
Yunna Morits2.jpg
Born (1937-06-02) June 2, 1937 (age 77)
Kiev, USSR/Ukraine
Genres Poetry, translations
Notable work(s)

The Cape of Desire

The Vine

Yunna Petrovna Morits (Moritz) (Russian: Ю́нна Петро́вна Мо́риц; b. June 2, 1937), is a Soviet and Russian poet and activist.


She was born in Kiev, USSR (present day Ukraine) in a Jewish family. Her father Pinchas Moritz, was imprisoned under Stalin, she suffered from tuberculosis in her childhood, and spent years of hardship in the Urals during WWII. In the 1950s, she went to study in Moscow, where she was briefly expelled from college for her poems' critical stance and alienation from the Soviet system. In 1961, she became widely known for her collection about the Far North, The Cape of Desire, based on her journey aboard an Arctic icebreaker, and was prominent among the "60s generation" of popular and subversive Soviet poets, though always keeping apart from her publicity-seeking fellows like Yevgeny Yevtushenko or Bella Akhmadulina. Together with Joseph Brodsky, she was among the few young poets favored by Anna Akhmatova.

Since the 1960s, she also became known for her poetic translations into Russian from many languages (these translations, commissioned by Soviet publishing houses, often employed an intermediary literal translator and a poet). She rendered into Russian verse such poets as Moisei Toif, Constantine Cavafy and Federico García Lorca. Since 1970, after the publication of The Vine, she was regarded "as one of the finest women poets in Russia today", in the words of American critic Daniel Weissbort. In later years, she attracted many young readers with her children poetry, some of which, like her adult work, became known to mass audience through guitar singers. Her other published work includes short stories, op-eds and, most recently, graphics. Her recent poetry, scarcely published in English, conveys the suffering, wrath and moral resistance of human beings caught in the tragedy of Russia's collapse. She has been widely criticized for supporting the policies of Vladimir Putin, particularly his annexation of Crimea.

She has been founding member of several liberal organizations of artistic intelligentia, including the Russian section of International PEN. She is a member of Russian PEN Executive Committee and its Human Rights Commission. She has been awarded several prestigious prizes, including Andrei Sakharov Prize For Writer's Civic Courage.


       You get home, there's a casino or a Pizza Hut.
       Each yard has its President and Vice-.
       Muffled in the cotton-wool of privatisation, that
           mounted soldier-woman.
       The guarded Member drinks Dutch beer from a can,
       wrapping his bathrobe round him in Mayoral and
           Perfectly fashion,
       At this time, the firm's fax informs him,
       Burma is trading four trainloads of toilet paper
       for a submarine. Bloody flux in the State Bank,
       the money's run out, the puppy has croaked, the
           Treasurer is not feeling so good.
       "Damned Demo-Craps, kiss your Mother's ass!"
       the line lets rip, not knowing how to take its place
           in the grave in a civilised manner.
       Clio, personally I find aid does not demean me,
       but bear in mind it doesn't reach me, – enough thieving,
       all the good-looking guys, geniuses, all the brains are leaving;
       only the talentless and fools remain behind, like me.
                         1991 (trans. Daniel Weissbort and Leona Medlin)


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