Listen on BBC Radio 3
Vladimir Mayakovsky was THE poet of the Russian Revolution. A revolutionary in his personal life as well as in his art, Mayakovsky sought to overthrow traditional practices and became the spokesperson for a radical new society. But the tensions and demands of speaking on behalf of the state would take its toll. In 1930 a nation went into mourning when Mayakovsky took a pistol and shot himself through the heart. Ian Sansom has been reading Mayakovsky since he was a teenager, inspired by Mayakovsky’s uncompromising example as a total artist, prepared to sacrifice everything for his vision. Ian travels to Mayakovsky’s birthplace in Georgia and speaks to poets, translators and academics who are seeking to keep Mayakovsky’s legacy alive. With rare archive recordings of Mayakovsky reading his own work, a Russian Futurist soundtrack from the period and on-location recordings from Moscow, Georgia and London, Ian attempts to resurrect the spirit of Mayakovsky.
Producer: Conor Garrett.