Boris Borisovich Ryzhy or Ryzhii (Russian: Борис Борисович Рыжий; (September 8, 1974 – May 7, 2001) was a Russian poet. Some poems by Ryzhy have been translated into English, Italian, German, Dutch and Serbian. He committed suicide on May 7, 2001, at the age of 26.
At the time of his death, Ryzhy’s reputation had burgeoned and he was starting to receive recognition as one of the premier poets of his generation. He was awarded the Anti-Booker Prize and accepted an invitation to the Rotterdam Poetry Festival. His suicide, seen by many skeptics as a desperate plea for recognition and fame the kind of which has been popular in Russia ever since Sergei Esenin’s notable suicide in a St. Petersburg hotel in 1925, was a sad consequence of his manic depression and substance abuse.Shortly afterwards, he was posthumously awarded the Northern Palmyra, one of the mostly highly sought after prizes in Russian letters, for his collection Opravdaniye zhizni(which translates as “A Reason to Live”).
Since his death in 2001, his poetry has been lauded and added to the canon of Russian poets. Numerous selected poems and collections of his have been added to the volumes of essential literature in the last several years, and he has gained huge popularity for his verse, which is at times vulgar and swaggering, at times formally masterful and reminiscent of Russia’s Silver Age. Through his short, poignant lyrics he crafted a persona of post-Soviet delinquency and despair. His own depression and addiction to alcohol figure prominently. He was the from the intelligentsia class, and had an impressive education in geology and nuclear geophysics and published many scientific papers. But, like many poets, he wore a mask.
Curiously, his reputation has been slow to grow outside of Russia. But since his death, a few translations have appeared into English, Italian, German and Dutch.
Ailona van der Horst made the documentary “Boris Ryzhy” in 2009 and the movie has received several awards, among them the Best Feature Documentary at Edinburgh International Filmfestival 2009.
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