Famous Poets of Kazan – Part III

2408D43D-BACF-406F-8C2B-A144DAA4F4FD_mw800One of the most loved poets of Kazan is Gabdulla Tukay, anyone who appreciates Art and who loves Poetry should know his name and his work. His work is not only appreciated in Russia but in the world a large. When one thinks of this great poet they also know his other work, like a diamond he was a multifaceted man with many talents: he was a poet, a publicist, a literary critic, and a public figure all at the same time. He  was greatly  responsible during his time for the development of  Tatar poetry and culture . What Pushkin did for Russian poetry and culture, Tukay did for the Tatar community.

Though Tukay was not born in Kazan he spent most of his adult life in the great city. During the period of Tukay’s life in Kazan there was perhaps not a single album of his poetic works, which was not influenced by his friendship with F. Amirhan, G. Kamal, G. Kulahmetov and Bolshevik Husain Yamashev, each of them advanced shaping of the poet’s ideological views.

uralsk-tukay-001Gabdulla Tukay was born in April, 1886 in Kushlavych village of the former Kazan province. After losing both his parents Gabdulla lived for a short time with his grandfather. Being an orphan and his Grandfather who up in years was not able to take care of him the decision was made  to send him to Kazan. In 1895 at the age of nine Gabdulla moved to the town of Uralsk to stay with his cousin’s sister. It was here that he spent his childhood and adolescence. It was in this same town that Tukay was introduced to the works of the Russian poets Pushkin and Lermontov while attending the madrasah.  His heart being under inspiration of this two men, the now novice poet started writing his own poems.

uralsk-museum-0001Tukay first job was working in a printing shop as a proofreader and forwarding agent making only 10 rubles a month. The work was very demanding nearing on impossible but no matter what Tukay stayed faithful to the commitments and goals he had set for himself. Gabdulla Tukay could not tolerate the exploitation, that he and others where put under for such low wages. He made the decision to instigate  a fight with the owner. Under his encouragement he was trying to get the printing shop workers to come out with a claim demanding higher wages. The owner of the printing shop  noticed that the young proofreader was instigating the workers to discontent, but he did not take any severe steps as he was afraid of Tukay’s pungent verses.  His poems were already published in the newspaper and were well read. He only thing he did was load the freethinker with extra work. Eventually seeing that he was a man of character the owner decided to get rid of Tukay and fired him from the printing shop.

GabdullaTukayMuseumKazanNow with no job and no place to go the young Tukay had a problem. Where would he go? He was already a well known poet, his talent was appreciated by many newspaper owners in Kazan which had already offered him a job. The offers not just coming from Kazan, they were coming from far and wide. He even turned down going to work for one called “Vakyt” (Time), which belonged to Rameev who was a millionaire and gold-mines owner. His dream was Kazan where life was humming much more inviting than Orenburg or Ufa. Thus, he rushed to Kazan to start a new life.

Tukay loved his people and probably like no other Tatar writers of the past had ever managed to express the spirit of the nation to such a depth and with such an artistic force, as he did so.Tukay warmly and enthusiastically loved Kazan. All the best in his life was linked with this city. Yet at the same time he had to experience a few bitter moments in Kazan. He liked Kazan, where the poet spent the remaining years of his life, he had devoted a lot of beautiful lines about the city. The poet used to call Kazan a “radiant” city of science and art.

728-mThe fight against autocracy and against bourgeois nationalists took a lot of the poet’s strength. The health of Tukay deteriorated drastically. Doctors advised the poet to go to the south for treatment, but he could not afford it. Friends collected some money to send him for treatment in the countryside. However the disease had been disregarded for too long by this time already. The poet started feeling even worse in the village. It was decided to put Tukay into the hospital. After examination of the patient doctors asked him why he had not contacted the hospital earlier. The poet jocularly replied to this: “I was told that a hospital is the first station on the way to death and I would like to stay in this world a little longer.”

The poet died at five pm on April 11, 1913. Gabdulla Tukay died in the prime of his creative abilities and talent, as Gorky wrote, “as a result of starvation and consumption”.

The Tatar people highly honor the memory of the outstanding popular poet. The name of Tukay has been awarded to the State Philharmonic Hall, to the Prize awarded for the best literary works and works of art. A street in Kazan has also been named after Tukay. In the place of the present Tukaevskaya street there used to be two streets earlier: Tikhvinskaya and Ekaterininskaya. The second was leading from the present Tatarstan Street to Caban.

Tukay used to live in the rooms of “Bulgar” (the corner of Kirova Street and Tatarstan Street). The memorial plaque has been fixed on the house where he used to live. The memorial plaque has been fixed on the house at the corner of Ostrovsky and Kavi Najmi Streets. There was a hospital located there in Tukay’s times (GIDUV clinic at present)


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