Yevgeny Yevtushenko died on April 1, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Historically he was a Soviet era poet who transcended his time and place with powerful words. In 2004 I was on assignment in the Ukraine, and upon arriving in Kiev my first planned stop was to visit Babi Yar, a ravine located in the outskirts of the city where in September, 1941 was the site of massacres of over 33,000 Jews that took place over a two day period. It was now a tranquil forest surrounded by urban sprawl where memories of evil and sorrow lingered amongst the beautiful trees.
Excerpt from the 1961 poem Babi Yar:
There are no monuments over Babi Yar.
But the sheer cliff is like a rough tombstone.
It horrifies me.
Today, I am as old As the Jewish people.
It seems to me now,
That I, too, am a Jew.
© David Katzenstein