Victoria Kurchenko
Victoria Kurchenko

May 21st - a creative jubilee was held in Brooklyn for Pushkin Society president Victoria Kurchenko in honor of her 50th birthday. The New York City's mayor's Culture Committee, the office of Public Lawyer Leticia James, the U.S. National Writers Union, the American Forum of Russian-speaking Jews, and various New Yorkian poetry and writing clubs all sent their best wishes. In the first part of the program, Victoria introduced the attendants to the milestones of her biography, highlighting the most significant to her topics which was reflected in the philosophical lyrics of her poetry and prose. The opening for many became the songs from Victoria's creative piggy bank, such as 'Silver Solitude' and 'Kharkov Waltz' performed by Azat Seitkuliev. 

Those interested were able to purchase a copy of a collection of poems, the essay 'Unstoppable' - which was marked by a special diploma of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine - and the play 'Maidaniona' depicting the dramatic events that occurred in Ukraine in 2014, for which the author won the Diamond Duke prize at the international literary competition named for de Richelieu in 2015. After the break, friends and colleagues prepared a celebratory concert which was attended by famous authors and musicians.

May 10th - a memorial was held for Yevgeny Yevtushenko in New York restaurant Uncle Vanya. The people closest to him - Marina Troshina, Irina Mashinskaya, Anna Halberstadt, Andrey Gritsman, Victor Persik, Ilya Levkov, Valery Ponomarev - shared their memories of him. Poets recited several works, especially those of Yevgeny Yevtushenko himself. Dimitri Garanin made a presentation of exclusive photographs of Yevtushkeno from the archives of I. B. Gutchin, whose son was present at the event. Pushkin Society of America president Victoria Kurchenko reminded everyone that if he were alive, Yevtushenko would have brought up the topic of Victory Day, and recited his world famous poem 'Babiy Yar'.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Medal awarded to the poet by the Pushkin Society in 2016
Medal awarded to the poet by the Pushkin Society in 2016

The open mic-ers of that evening were Lily Pan, Vladimir Nuzov, Alexader Dranov and Aaron Nirshburn. The event finale consisted of a screening of Nina Zaretskaya's documentary 'Will the Clover Field Rumble - Yevgeniy Yevtushenko'.

Michael Zhinzherov
Michael Zhinzherov

May 6th - a creative evening was held at the Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn Public Library for Michael Zhinzherov in honor of his 70th birthday. Victoria Kurchenko - and Brooklyn Literary Club's Zinovy Korovin - presented the guest of honor with memorable gifts and respective certificates. Evening participant and musician Anna Nemtsova dedicated and performed her songs to Michael, simultaneously giving a nod to the upcoming Victory Day. The literary portion of the evening was introduced by the host with original love poems to his wife. Humorous plays and texts about emigration, politics and parodies were presented for judgement by the audience.


Michael Zhinzherov's works were announced in many nominations and printed in literary magazines as well as poetry almanacs, including the first issue of the now prestigious journal Eurasia, the first publication of the almanac Autograph, The Russian Bell and others. M. Zhinzherov is the author of the book 'Rhythmically Across The Skull' and the audiobook 'Pegasus in the Sauna'. He was awarded the Masuo-Basho medal, an honorary De Saint-Exupery diploma and numerous nominations for Poet of the Year. A small exhibition of documents, drawings, miniatures and historical postcards from the Pushkin Society of America archives organically complemented the stylings of the books in one of the reading rooms.

Mark Belitsky
Mark Belitsky

April 29th  - a musical and artistic evening with bard Mark Belitsky was held in the 86th Street Brooklyn Public Library. Other than songs composed of his own poetry and music, his concert also consisted of sketches depicting meetings with various famous people. Communication with the attendants, which was held in Russian as well as English, was accompanied by answers to questions and discussions of the translated song titles, which were originally in Russian. In Pushkin Society of America's exposition, exhibits from the new project 'White Emigrant Chest' were shown for the first time. Works of artists' Marina Kashirskaya and Yevgeni Tonevitski were supplemented with archival finds.


The public was presented with Sergei Sudeykin's drawings, found in the working folder of the publisher and bookseller Alexander Yaremenko (1886 - 1984), samples of old prints (including a portrait of George Washington), an original 1907 print of Art Deco founder Louis Icartes who was a French artist and illustrator (1880 - 1950) and documents of the Bogolyubov family.

Inna Grubmair
Inna Grubmair

April 28th - the board of directors of the Pushkin Society of America held a meeting. Inna Grubmair, our representative in Europe, attended it via Skype and Alexander Grinberg attended it via a conference telephone call. Current issues were discussed and a calendar of events for the rest of 2017 was solidified. Victoria Kurchenko acquainted the team with new archival finds showing three XIX century engravings and 1930's artists' paintings, which were decided will be used to conclude a storage agreement with one of New York's museums and displayed in future exhibitions. Elena Iosilevich, the organization's art director, was thanked for organizing exhibitions for our artists spanning from April through September in the 46th Street Manhattan Public Library. Dmitry Garanin announced his plan to hold a poetry contest, '45th Caliber', of which he intends to be one of the judges. Like last year we will contribute two $100 prizes to the winners whose works most resemble traditional Russian poetry.

Natalia Mizuri introduced the new members of the team; musical director Natalia Medvedovskaya and radio host Alexander Grinberg of the show 'Let's Talk' (first episode airs on May 9th). Interviews, literary and musical programs, discussion of cultural events and various Pushkin-related news will all take place on the show. Boris Borukaev informed everyone of the cooperation with the U.S. National Writers Union and preparations for the opening of a Russian-speaking authors page on their website. Thanks to the efforts that reached agreements with the Union, all the administrative work will be handled by Tatiana Sheremeteva.

March 21st - the New York City Supreme Court held the annual celebration of women's movement in history month under the patronage of the office of Scott M. Stringer, city auditor. Marina McDonough, director of public relations for the Pushkin Society, was invited as an honored guest and participated in the forum. Speeches about how exceptional this event was were made from the podium and dedicated to the centenary of the suffragist movement in the United States. Scott M. Stringer awarded memorable diplomas to women who made a great contribution to the prosperity of the city. In the 1980s the United States began to not only celebrate March 8th's International Women's Day as a national holiday, but began to extend the celebration for the length of a week starting March 7th, 1982.

Marina McDonough
Marina McDonough

By 1987 Congress decided to extend this further, and proclaimed that from that point on, all of the month of March would be dedicated to the women's movement in history. Since then the Women's History Month has attracted wide segments of the population to discover the vital roles women played in American history and modern society.

March 20th - Victoria Kurchenko, Boris Borukaev, Natali\a Piller and other colleagues of our Russian-American cabinet paid a visit to the New York Senate, and met with the representatives of the Chamber of Legistry, as well as the Culture Committee office headed by Dan Quart. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democratic party leader, held a meeting in her office where the issues of Pushkin Society activists' participation in the activities of the National Women's Club were discussed.


The senator's secretary gifted several copies of the book Woman of Distinction, and offered to organize a planned visit of New York voters to the working stations of the current cabinet. The Senate is located in a history building of the New York state capitol and was built in 1889.

March 18th - a bilingual program of art exposition, titled 'Serge Hollerbach and Sergei Rachmaninov', was held in a Manhattan library on 67th Street.

S. L. Hollerbach - painter, graphic artist, essayist - spent his presentation talking about interesting people he has met in his life, shared his thoughts on the essence of creativity and gifted the Pushkin Society in America with one of his paintings, which once opened an exhibition. Elena Iosilevich, art director, presented her own works and those of Anna-Nina Kovalenko, Natalia Max, Yelena Rykoff and Alexander Dudorov.

The second department was dedicated to S. V. Rachmaninov, who has had friendly connections with many Society members in the 1930s. In the foyer the composer's autograph, the text of a letter addressed to B. L. Brazol, concert adverts and newspaper articles about 'Rachmaninov's Days' were on display.

Natalia Medvedovsky - composer, pianist and director of the music program - spent her presentation by drawing attention to the history pages of our salons and introduced the singer Tatiana Poletsky; a Moscow Philharmonic soloist and winner of numerous European singing competitions. Tatiana performed some of Rachmaninov's romances and invited everyone to the next program.

Sergey Evelev
Sergey Evelev

March 11 - an evening of creativity dedicated to author and composer Sergey Evelev was held in the Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn Public Library. The audience was delighted by his talented and diverse performance. There was singing, poetry reading, commentating on the texts and short stories full of soft humor and irony.

Sergey Evelev introduced his books; 'What a Thing Is Life' and 'Short Plays for Poetry Without an Orchestra' - both poetic compilations - and 'Under Hot Sauce'. which is a model of autobiographical prose and is illustrated by individual stories. The narrative style of the author brings perfectly mundane things towards new boundaries. All three books, in various ways, intertwine the questions of existence with life experiences. Representatives of all different generations of New Yorkian followers had come by to meet him.

Galina Itskovich, Sofia Yusefpolskaya-Tsilosani
Galina Itskovich, Sofia Yusefpolskaya-Tsilosani

February 21 - a musical program by Sofia Yusefpolskaya-Tsilosani, Galina Itskovich, and guitarist Kirill Ulanovsky was held in café Uncle Vanya. A single script transformed two poets' creative evening into a real work of theatrical art, which interwove aesthetics with intellectuality. Sofia Yusefpolskaya-Tsilosani presented her new book 'Wanderings'. She is also the author of a collection of poems titled 'Blue Fire' and a book about Arseny Tarkovky; 'The Pulse of Time: Immortality and the Word in the Poetry of Arseny Tarkovsky'. She is also co-author of 'Arseniy Tarkovsky: White Day', a bilingual novel. Her poems, scientific articles, short prose and translations in Russian and English are published in many magazines and almanacs such as Dictionary of Literary Biography, Slavic and Eastern European Journal, Poetry of the Women of the World and others.

Galina Itskovich, while a psychiatrist by profession, is a writer by vocation. Her translations, poems, journalism pieces and short stories in Russian and English has been published in such magazines as Slovo/Word, Southern Lights, Emigrant Lira, Garden, Steps, Golden Fleece, Forum, Poetica, Asian Signature and collections like Contemporary Jewish Writing and Poet of the Year 2015 Finalists.

The "open mic" included performances by Michael Zhinzherov, Yevgeny Breido and children's poet Igor Kalish. The evening was hosted by Natalia Mizuri.

February 19th - the second edition of the 'Cabaret and Art Auction' program was held in the Kitchen at Cobble Hill, a central Brooklyn restaurant. Larissa Grabois delighted the visitors with her small concert by performing songs in six different languages, regaling them with interesting stories about Alexander Pushkin's life and taking everyone on a verbal tour of the history of chocolate.

The items brought for the auction included the monotype piece titled 'Fur Coat' by Elena Golovanova-Starenko, and the graphite and jakle pieces 'Fantasy & Fiction' and 'Time to Return' co-created by Yevgeni Tonevitski and Marina Bozin. The visitors were most intrigued, however, by the "live art" piece on the long female cardigan, embellished with Swarovski crystals (a designer piece by Yevgeni Tonevitski).

Larissa Grabois, Irina Perelman, Victoria Kurchenko
Larissa Grabois, Irina Perelman, Victoria Kurchenko

For the first time very antique books were also presented. You could purchase a rare old book documenting the "era of the Reds", by author V. Korsak, published in 1930s Paris. The most unusual exhibit turned out to be the selected works of M. Lermontov in one 1891 volume, with pasted copies of the author's autographs included inside.

Viktoria Kurchenko, Tomas Venclova, Olga Petrova
Viktoria Kurchenko, Tomas Venclova, Olga Petrova
February 16th - The Committee of the Russian-speaking Diaspora Justice Award (also known as The Yesenin-Volpin award, by the name of its first recipient) is honored and pleased to announce that Dr. Tomas Venclova has been selected as the Award’s winner for the year 2016. This year’s award is in recognition of Dr.Venclova’s lifetime of creative engagement with anti-authoritarian and internationalist forces in Russia’s culture and society and for his role in developing mutual understanding and cooperation between Lithuanian and Russian advocates for human rights and justice.
The annual Russian-speaking Diaspora Justice Award was co-founded in 2014 by several organizations and individuals in the United States, including:
• American Russian-speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights
• General Petro Grigorenko Foundation
• Lodyjensky Immigration Archive Center of Russian & Ukrainian Culture/The Pushkin Society in America
• Russian-speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx
• The Andrei Sakharov Foundation
as well as, in their personal capacity, by V.Rev. Michael Aksionov Meerson (Bethesda, MD), Rabbi Leonid Feldman (West Palm Beach, FL), TV host Boris Tentser (Fort Lee, NJ), and human rights advocate Tatiana Yankelevich (Boston, MA). The Award’s first and second recipients, in 2014 and 2015 respectively, were Dr. Alexander Yesenin-Volpin and Naum Korzhavin.
Omar Faruk Osman, Viktoria Kurchenko
Omar Faruk Osman, Viktoria Kurchenko

February 10th - Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), arrived in New York City. He said that Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked it as the worst offender in its 2015 Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are killed and killers go free. Omar and his union have been fighting to protect journalists and for a free press under the most challenging conditions.

 

Larry Goldbetter, Omar Faruk Osman
Larry Goldbetter, Omar Faruk Osman

In December 2015, one day after urging the President of Somalia not to sign a controversial media law passed by the Somali parliament as a threat to media freedom, gunmen sprayed Omar's car with bullets as he was entering his office in Mogadishu. The attack on Omar is another example of the continued threats to journalists and media workers in Somalia, and the ongoing attempts to undermine freedom of expression. There have been many others.
National Writers Union is proud to host Omar Faruk Osman. and calls to build the IFJ campaign to end impunity against journalists.

Boris Ostrovsky, Dmitry Khukhlaev
Boris Ostrovsky, Dmitry Khukhlaev

February 5th - club Zinc in Manhattan held a presentation of Boris Ostrovsky's book of poetry titled '600 Meters'. Besides the author, actor and television presenter Dmitry Khukhlaev contributed by reading some of the texts on stage and commenting on them.

The book itself, published by the Pushkin Society in America, has very diverse contents. It includes poetic reflection on love, the drama of life and nostalgia for times past.  The core of the collection is the military prose. Immersing the reader into a different reality, where the reader walks along the edge of the front lines.

Boris Ostrovsky has made his book available in our online store.

Bill DeBlazio
Bill DeBlazio

February 1st - the members of the National Writers Union, including the trade union association 'UAW Region 9A', held a meeting with New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio.

Writer Tatiana Sheremeteva, and Pushkin Society in America leaders Victoria Kurchenko and Boris Borukaev, presented the Russian language section.

UAW head of the New York branch Julia Kushner, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, opened the meeting. As a leader she supports and protects the interests of the many public and non-profit organizations at Bernard's College, Columbia University, New York University, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and many others. Julia Kushner's objective is to promote and develop the artistic potential of professional creative groups, to protect constitutional rights and freedoms, further progress the women's movement and assist the general public in gaining access to higher education.

Julia Kushner, Tatiana Sheremeteva, Victoria Kurchenko
Julia Kushner, Tatiana Sheremeteva, Victoria Kurchenko
Victoria Kurchenko, Mauricio Niebla, Tatiana Sheremeteva
Victoria Kurchenko, Mauricio Niebla, Tatiana Sheremeteva

The gathered participants all welcomed the mayor. In his address he stressed that New Yorkers should have equal opportunities for prosperity and security, and that every child should have access to quality education.

Pointed questions about the difficulties students and educators - as well as their family members - have begun to encounter at border crossings due to the recent decree were posed to the mayor.

Bill DeBlasio confirmed that the best universities will continue to receive special grants from the city to overcome any challenges they may come up against due to the changing times. City Hall's administration intends to do everything it is able to assist Columbia University in retaining its status as the center of open competitive science and education in the 21st century, so they may continue to employ talented professionals from around the world.

During the forum the issue of officially opening a Russian-speaking section on the National Writers Union website had finally been resolved. Vice President and Director of the Hispanic section Mauricio Niebla welcomed the Pushkin Society in America's initiative in this regard, demonstrated the electronic resources at hand and helped introduce the mission to the N.W.U.

January 28th - the American Writers Union celebrated Tatiana's Day, the annual celebration of the Pushkin Society in America associate with the history of Russia and the opening of the Moscow State University.

In a small introduction, Victoria Kurchenko drew attention to the place the name Tatiana holds in Russian people's mentality, and how it became a symbol of one of the most famous works of Pushkin's 'Yevgeny Onegin'.

Program leader and participant Tatiana Sheremeteva read an intriguing excerpt from the unfinished novel 'The Familiar Taste From Childhood'.

Tatiana Yankovskaya, a representative of the small epic genre movement, introduced the audience to her new novel 'Coloring For Adults'. Tatiana Ananich's poems resonated in the key of ancient psalms and stood out for their originality. The author flew in from California specially for this meeting.

Art salon introduced artist and project manager Yelena Iosilevich; her paintings were presented beside the photographs of women right's movement representatives.

Artists Natalia Max and Elena Makeyeva took part in the exhibition, their bright and interesting works creating a life-affirming atmosphere under the musical opus of Polina Pecherskaya. Photo, sound and chronicling of the event was provided by Igor Gutgarts and Alexander Grinberg; the book fair was led by Galina Shevtsova.

January 17th - a job fair was held for Downtown Brooklyn, organized by the office of Leticia James, New York public advocate. Russian-language cabinet representatives from the Pushkin Society of America focused on notifying those in search for work and distributed information about the event, which was held for the first time in the Brighton Beach area, the "capitol" of the Russian speaking community.

Victoria Kurchenko, Timothy Tapia
Victoria Kurchenko, Timothy Tapia
Letitia James, Boris Borukaev
Letitia James, Boris Borukaev

Letitia James gave a general speech of welcome, and explained that everyone who registered will receive informative documents on open positions within the city to their specified addresses. She spoke warmly to the press and anyone else that sought her attention. Timothy Tapia, Jessica Reynoso, Patrick Lewis and other office staff coordinated the event and answered many questions from attendees.

Victoria Kurchenko, Natalia Mizuri, Boris Borukaev, Natalia Piller and Irene Petruk registered participants and helped orient visitors, of which there was many. The live queue of participants and visitors did not abate for the entirety of the first hour and a half of the event. Much of the credit of orchestrating job fairs goes to Carina Polonsky, who has always made an active effort to directly connect businesses with potential new workers. Regina Khidekel, another cabinet member, showed her support of the fair by recruiting for it all the way to Manhattan, and then attending it herself. Everyone present at the event received a lot of positive and useful information.

January 13th - the Board of Directors held a celebratory meeting devoted to an upcoming commemorative date (the 180th anniversary of Alexander Pushkin's death) in the Roerich Museum. A round table discussion was held about the two titans - Pushkin and Roerich - with the participation of museum staff Natalia Fomin and Natalia Mizuri, specialists on museum document completion, and their director Guido Trepsha.

The discussion's participants included; Boris Borukaev, Tatyana Sheremeteva, Nina Zaretskaya, Marina McDonough, Elena Iosilevich, Michael Zhinzherov and Pollna Pecherskaya. A decision was made to devote the entirety of 2017 to A. S. Pushkin's memory and to hold at least two future events within the aforementioned museum.

January 4th - the Russian-American Cabinet met at the office of Letitia James Public Advocate for the City of New York. The meeting was devoted to preparations for the Job Fair of South Brooklyn, which will be held on January 17th at 6pm in the following address: 3300 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11235.

The Cabinet reviewed their 2017 work plan and began preparations for the upcoming re-election in September. The Cabinet also gave their blessing for the establishment of an annual Pushkin Ball, which they anticipate will become the Gala event of the season, therefore drawing more attention to the glorious traditions of Russian culture in America.


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Presidents of the Pushkin Society

1. Boris Brasol, founder      (1935 -1963)

2. Gregory Mesniaeff          (1963 -1967)

3. Semen Bogolubov         (1967 -1971)

4. Serge Woyciechowski     (1971 - 1973)

5. Nadezhda Baklanova      (1973 - 1995)

6. Catherine Lodyjensky     (1995 - 2009)

7. Victoria Kurchenko     ( 2009 - present)