The great thing about weeding books in the library (or shelf-reading) is that you stumble across some really interesting things. My latest find – Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s A Precocious Autobiography. Yevtushenko was an outspoken poet during the Kruschev Thaw. From the pictures in the autobiography, he looks like he must have given quite theatrical readings to packed audiences of mostly young people. I flipped through the book and the first entry I read was about an incident with a local bully. Yevtushenko was about 11 at the time and he wanted very much to conquer his fear of the bully. So, he wrote a poem about him. The poem spread like wildfire and the bully came after him and beat him up with brass knuckles. Yevtushenko went home and recovered from his injuries. The next time he saw the bully he ran. Upset at his own cowardice, he resolved to find away to overcome his fear. The answer – jujitsu. That’s right. Young Yevgeny and his friends taught themselves jujitsu. Next time he saw the bully, he went up to him and kicked his playing cards to the ground. Before the bully could respond, Yevgeny pulled out his best jujitsu moves and sent the bully off crying. His thoughts on the incident are worth remembering:
And from that day on I knew for certain that there is no need to fear the strong. All one needs is to know the method of overcoming them. There is a special jujitsu for every strong man.
What I also learned that day was that, if I wished to be a poet, I must not only write poems but also know how to stand up for what I have written.