Brodsky's Gift

In the fall of 1963, in Leningrad, in what was then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the young poet Dmitry Bobyshev stole the young poet Joseph Brodsky’s girlfriend. This was not cool. Bobyshev and Brodsky were close friends. They often appeared, in alphabetical order, at public readings around Leningrad. Bobyshev was twenty-seven and recently separated from his wife; Brodsky was twenty-three and intermittently employed. Along with two other promising young poets, they’d been dubbed “the magical chorus” by their friend and mentor Anna Akhmatova, who believed that they represented a rejuvenation of the Russian poetic tradition after the years of darkness under Stalin. When Akhmatova was asked which of the young poets she most admired, she named just two: Bobyshev and Brodsky