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Exhibition "Let bygones be bygones"
Dedicated to the eightieth birthday of Margarita Agashina (1924-1999)

12-29 February 2004

In February 2004 State art gallery "Na Kashirke" started a new project "Creative Personality". It is dedicated to people, popular or little-known, living or having gone to a better world, - who are united by one thing: their life can hardly be imagined without Creation. And the life of surrounding people becomes spiritualized, more vivid and sensible.

To notice a talent in the lifetime. To give credit for it, when the creator is not living. To reproduce the richness of the soul and the spirit of the time through works of art, documents and objects. These are the main aims of the project, called to show the life of the country, of Moscow, of the Time itself (in which we lived and live) having reproduced the world of creative individuality - unique and valuable.

The project opens with the exposition dedicated to the memory of Margarita Agashina, who would celebrate her eightieth birthday on the 29th February 2004.

The name of Margarita Agashina is one of the less well-known names in poetry. And that is true. Her verses turned into songs by Grigoriy Ponomarenko, Vladimir Migulya and other composers, and quickly became known around Russia. But do many people know the name of the author of the verses for these famous songs? The paradox is that though the lines, familiar to the Russian people, have lost the authorship, it is the most precious award for a poet. And Agashina had the lucky chance to receive such an award.

However, in those bygone times of the greatest popularity of these songs - 70ies of the past century - these was a tradition to announce the names of the authors before performing, and general public knew these names. These are the lines taken from the letter of Olga Voronets, People's Artist of Russia, which was sent to Margarita Konstantinovna in May, 1971: "I'm writing from Ryazan, I arrived here with the orchestra named by Osipov for two concerts. Lots of people are welcoming us warmly. Have just been to Orenburg. You can't imagine what was going on after "Where can I find such a song"!!! People are sending notes every other minute throughout the concert, waiting for this song. We have been to remote regions, we were showered with flowers, given bread-and-salt welcome, and again the culmination: "Where can I find.." They know this song everywhere: I'm hardly saying "music by Ponomarenko, verses by Agashina" - it's already thundering! In Zaporozhye, in Sport's palace, I hardly began to sing the first words of the song, the audience exploded with applause. Thank You! I owe this all to Grisha and especially to You!.."

Connoisseurs and amateurs of verses heard and recognized pure poetic voice of Margarita Agashina: over half a century of literary work more than twenty books of her poems and several books of prose were published.

Konstantin Vanshenkin wrote: "Psychological truthfulness, humanity and reality of feelings are the things in her verses which are winning our hearts. The best lines of her poems are powerful not only because they are well written, but also because they are achieved through much suffering, not just invented".

The main themes of Agahina's poetry, taken from life, are also painful. The bitter and simultaneously high destiny of her generation, whose youth fell on the Great Patriotic War. Woman's lot with love and betrayal, joy and pain, and the freedom, achieved through suffering, when "you can bring to me neither happiness nor misfortune". Stalingrad's destiny of a soldier, and then Volgograd's, restored to life from ruins, where the poetess lived almost half a century.

She claimed: "If I lived in another city, I would write other poems (or I wouldn't write them at all!). Its destiny, its people, its mothers and widows, its buildings, roads, its immense fields - this all taught and teaches me to live, grieve and rejoice with everybody, not to spare myself and to be myself". Agashina showed her love to her native city and its people not only as a poetess, but also as a citizen: she wrote social and political essays in the printed media, first of all, in the newspaper "Volgogradskaya Pravda", prepared and conducted programs on TV. She often met her readers, going to most remote corners of the vast Volgograd region. She was not once elected deputy. The city always waited for her speeches - unchangeably sincere, without a note to look in. However, it's a rare case! common people considered Agashina their own, and city authorities respected her (though she refused to become a member of Communist Party of Soviet Union no matter how hard they tried to convince her).

The city reciprocated her feelings. The song "There grows a birch tree in Volgograd" (music by Grigory Ponomarenko) in powerful and moving performance of People's Artist of Russia Lyudmila Zykina became the hymn of the hero city. The author of the verses was conferred upon the freedom of a town and became the first prize-winner of the literary award "Stalingrad". Today there is a street named after Margarita Agashina in Volgograd. People's Artist of Russia Victor Fetisov is finishing his work at the monument to the poetess, which will be set up in the centre of the city glorified by her. Nadezhda Pavlovskaya made Agashina's small-scale sculptural portrait of white marble during her lifetime (the married couple sculptors Nadezhda and Mikhail Pavlovsky were her old good friends). Margarita Konstantinovna and painter Fyodor Sukhanov had long-term creative and good personal relations. This warm relationship had its effect in the creativity of both of them.

From her youth and till the end of her life the poetess valued Moscow beyond all measure; she graduated from Institute of Literature named by M.Gorky. Such masters like Pavel Antokolsky, Vladimir Lugovskoy, Mikhail Svetlov, Konstantin Paustovsky, Konstantin Fedin, Valentin Kataev taught her and her fellow-students Rasul Gamzatov, Inna Goff, Vladimir Kornilov and Naum Korzhavin, who afterwards left large footprints on the sands of Russian literature.

Margarita Konstantinovna often came to Moscow to visit her relatives and friends, to busy herself with publishing affairs and to attend conferences of writers. She stayed with her relatives in Southern district of Moscow, where art gallery "Na Kashirke" is situated, which is displaying at the present time exposition in memory of the poetess. Exhibits for the exhibition - books, photos, documents, disk records, personal things, works of fine and decorative arts, which were presented to the poetess by her friends-painters - were given by her daughter Elena Agashina, a journalist, observer of a weekly newspaper of Prefecture of the Southern district of Moscow "Yuzhnye gorizonty".

Elena Agashina

translated by Lyubov Kuzmina


Opening of memorial plaque in Volgograd

Margarita Agashina and Rasul Gamzatov

Memorial to Margarita Agashina, sculptor Victor Fetisov



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