Snegov took over Gumilyov in Norillag secret poetry contest

Snegov took over Gumilyov in Norillag secret poetry contest

August 21, 2023

There were many poets, writers and intellectuals in Norillag – the Stalin’s era Norilsk forced labor camp. The poetry competition was clandestine and anonymous.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. It was not easy to conduct it – the poets were placed in different camp departments, poems were passed secretly. Applicants submitted five poems each, they were evaluated by a strict court according to a 12-point system: from ‘masterpiece’ to ‘mediocre’. The jury included a critic, a secretary of the Writers’ Union, a philosopher – of course, in the past: at that time, they were prisoners as well as the contestants.

The favorite was Lev Gumilyov – the son of Anna Ahmatova and Nikolay Gumilyov. Everyone was sure that the first place was “bequeathed to him by nature”. But unexpectedly, Sergey Snegov, the author of the famous Norilsk Tales, the future science fiction writer, won.

This became a split in the friendship of the two writers. Gumilyov had a grouch on Snegov, because he intended to become a writer after the prison, and Snegov was a physicist and philosopher, and he would not go further than amateurism in literature.

They met again on the outside, after 20 years. Gumilyov became an orientalist and philosopher, and Snegov was already publishing his prose.

Snegov at that meeting said, not without malice: “Tell me now, professor, who of us became a writer, and who is a scientist? Maybe there was some kind of inner justice in that verses contest?

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told that the Taimyr name was given to our peninsula by the scientist-traveler Alexander Middendorf.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

August 21, 2023

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