Prokofiev Dmitry Semenovich (Pskov) — literary critic (candidate of philological sciences), poet, multimusician (author-performer). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, was one of the editors of the Pskov samizdat almanac «Gulliver». In 1993 he published a collection of selected poems «A premonition of dawn». Since 1999, he has been dealing with the history of the Silver Age of Russian literature, as well as the history of Russian samizdat in the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2001, the priority of scientific activity is the study of the life and work of the poet Igor Severyanin (IV Lotharova). In 2007, the publishing house «Hymenei» (Pskov) published a bibliographic two volume «Dictionary of the literary environment of Igor Severyanin (1905-1941)».
From Oleg Okhapkin’s Biography, featured in Love Lyrics (2013), a collection of his poems:
From 1979 till 1986 – the era of the literary underground accompanied by the indispensable work in the gas boiler house. The poems were published in typewritten journals «Obvodnyi Kanal», «Chasi», «37», «Veche» (Moscow), among others …(1)
The number of «others» included Pskov Literary Miscellany «Maya», which became, in some way, Okhapkin’s project, unlike other journals who utilized it only as a means of publication.
From the reference Literary Miscellany «Maya”, prepared by Miroslav Andreev, one of its authors and editors (1998):
Literary Miscellany «Maya» was founded in 1980 in Pskov, where it mainly published up to 1993 inclusive. Six issues were published… Due to a number of objective reasons, the Miscellany gradually became well-known locally as a sort of storage facility for texts rather than as a periodical with a certain ideological profile. The founders and co-editors of the Miscellany were three poets: Miroslav Andreev, Evgeniy Shesholin from Pskov and Anatoliy Sokolov (Nesterov) from Frunze (Bishkek), who remained with Maya for some time: A. Sokolov left in 1987 when, after the 3rd issue, he split over with co-founders concerning the periodical, while Evgeniy Shesholin stayed until his tragic death in April 1990.(2)
Maya (Sanskrit. Literally: illusion) is a magical power of creation, illusion and semblance in ancient Indian thought.(3)
From the foreword to the 4th issue of «Maya» by Evgeniy Shesholin:
The title … will irritate the scripturists, like any pluralism. However, something unimaginable remains behind the veil of Maya, behind the veil of words …(4)
From Chosen by Euterpe, the Foreword by M. Andreev to the complete set of poems by Evgeniy Shesholin (January 1998):
I heard the word «Maya» from him (from Shesholin. – D.P.) for the first time ever — he was first to discover «The Glass Bead Game» by Hesse. … when we were inventing the name for the miscellany, I insisted on «Maya» – and Evgeniy agreed, being a real pluralist.(5)
From the Foreword by M. Andreev to the book «The Emerald from the Bottom of Velikaya» by Evgeniy Shesholin (1999):
In 1978, in Saint Petersburg, Evgeniy met Oleg Okhapkin, a younger friend of Joseph Brodsky. The poet was widely published in samizdat and abroad and, of course, was monitored by the KGB, as well as his like-minded fellow poets. In 1979, Shesholin was introduced the author of these lines by Okhapkin, and we had an idea to create our own samizdat involving everyone we met in life and worthy of the poet’s name.(6)
From the letter by Igor Panachyov, a protodeacon of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York and a friend of «Maya» co-editors to the compiler of this article (October 3, 2014):
I remember that meeting, when MAYA was established. It happened in Miroslav’s old apartment … There were four of us: Miroslav Andreev, Evgeniy Shesholin, Artyom Tasalov and your humble narrator. We drank dry wine; white wine if I am not mistaken. There were several discussion questions, but all of them were serious: at that time, you could suffer a severe punishment for samizdat. One of the questions was the name. Miroslav … pushed for… MAYA very actively and even aggressively. Subsequently, two of the four didn’t join the editorial team, while Sheloshik’s position (Evgeniy Shesholin’s friendly nickname. – D.P.) was very tolerant… So, this name was accepted.
Another exceedingly crucial question was the publication / non-publication abroad. The position on this issue determined the degree of responsibility, including the criminal one according to the RSFSR Code of that time. One of the meeting attendees, who subsequently joined neither the editorial nor writing team, was totally against foreign publications. At the same time, he put forward a very ingenious theory: literature — particularly elegant – is a national property, and it doesn’t befit to fritter it (property) away in foreign countries. The others could not appreciate this patriotic pathos, and the decision was made in favor of publication overseas. As a result, the noble patriot and theorist left the quorum. Needless to say, the question of practical implementation of these plans came up.
Everybody was reliant on Oleg Okhapkin’s patronage.
Nikolay Nikolaevich Epishev (who later became a priest) studied in Pskov Pedagogical Institute. He lived in Saint Petersburg and he introduced us to Oleg Okhapkin.
From Evgeniy Shesholin, the Poet (Acquaintance Attempt), the memories of Artyom Tasalov written on May 5, 2000:
Evgeniy suggested for me to go to Petersburg – to see Oleg Okhapkin…
It took us a long time to get to Okhapkin — he lived somewhere on the outskirts * — a lot of green trees — poplar fluff was flying? — nice. Oleg Okhapkin turned out to be nice too — beautiful, handsome, free; I still remember and love him. We stayed overnight at his place. We drank something and read our poems. And he patiently listened to our still childish verses.
We (with Miroslav Andreev. – D.P.) fought endlessly for Sheloshik, and he (Shesholin. – D.P.) could get on well with everybody.
The first crack between us emerged when we decided to publish a journal — then he (Miroslav. – D.P.) made the cup run over. He called it — «Maya», but I didn’t want it to have anything to do with mystical maya. I was afraid. I wanted to call it «Word». Of course, it is a commonplace name now, but at the time it was crucial for me. Moreover, Miroslav and Evgeniy perceived this word in the context of dissidence, and I didn’t want to accept such a perception. I hesitated for a long time — several years. When I finally refused to join them, Miroslav could not forgive me. He wrote me a letter, in which he sent me into the metaphysical abyss of degeneration — to its very bottom. It was an evil letter. If not for the Cross of Christ, I would have stumbled down a dark path.(7)
From the Miroslav Andreev’s foreword to Chosen by Euterpe, the complete set of poems by Evgeniy Shesholin (January 1998):
In the summer, we visited Saint Petersburg and Oleg Okhapkin, a poet, Joseph Brodsky’s friend and a participant of many projects of Samizdat, who inspired us to our own literary miscellany «Maya» and promised, in addition to his participation, to provide the materials of his numerous friends and poets, as well as to send the publications abroad.(8)
From the leading article by M. Andreev «Maya» for 10 Years (1990):
«Maya» was set up in May 1980 after the link «Asia — Pskov — Saint Petersburg» was established by efforts of M. Andreev, E. Shesholin and A. Nesterov (Sokolov).(9)
From the Foreword to the 4th issue of «Maya» by Evgeniy Shesholin (December 1987):
In early summer of 1980, we sat on some old rusty rails right beside the Sosnovaya Polyana and bundled the sheets of the first issues of our «Maya.» More precisely, Sokolov bundled them. Meticulous and serious, he trusted our common offspring to nobody but himself. I was young and sipped a vintage port wine (oh, «Black Eyes»! ..) from the bottle. My friend Andreev successfully maneuvered between his duties as a co-editor and the bottle. One of a number of Russian periodicals was launched, precious in its complete vulnerability and uselessness to the wider public…
Of course, we were hopeful for success! .. We had no goals, no schedules. The only criterion for admission was the desire and class. We were united by our hatred of the economic situation, steadfast (as it turned out) self-belief, provincialism, and desire to oppose anything routine to social and literary battles, impatience and life itself.(10)
From the leading article by M. Andreev in «Maya» for 10 years (1990):
«Buddy» Okhapkin sent the first issue abroad… to Kuzminskiy. The latter seemingly «promoted» it somewhere (we haven’t seen it) by some advertisement at «Voice of America» (we hadn’t heard of it).(11)
From the letter by Oleg Okhapkin to Konstantin Kuzminskiy dated October 18, 1979:
Here I got hold of three very young poets from the Pskovian lands. However, it just isn’t what it used to be in the beginning of 60-s and 70-s. I can even say that there is a dead pause in the poetic process.(12)
From the letter by Oleg Okhapkin to Konstantin Kuzminskiy dated November 9, 1979:
However, I do not see a cultural shift in the foreseeable future. We are followed by some sickish generation. Apparently, some pauses in subsequent development are natural.(13)
From the article by K. Kuzminskiy «Maya». The Fifties (1983):
Not even close. I would say the opposite. «Maya,” a poetical miscellany received today through the «Press Chronicle», is a real gift from above. In vain hope, I explained to the publisher that I’m unaware of what’s going on «in the vastness of my wonderful Motherland», in Siberia, Central Asia, the provinces, and the South Caucasus. I was REALLY unaware. However, I am aware now.
«Three Pskovians» discovered by Oleg Okhapkin turned into the most powerful and interesting literary commonwealth /not a group!/ of any that I have observed in the last 20 years. Years of birth — 1959, 1951, 1957, 1950, 1953, 1955. Originally hail from Pskov, Altai, Odessa, Novosibirsk, Magadan and Krāslava.
Moreover, it will fill my third volume, the «PROVINCE» with its gaping holes.
Seven «non-resident» authors in the miscellany were balanced by two «well-known Leningrad poets», Okhapkin and Kupriyanov. The latter proved to be, alas, less bright than the «provincials»…
I will not analyze the works of the awesome and rather young poets. The entire miscellany will be reproduced in the 3rd volume. Of the 7 authors … I didn’t like only one – the prose of one person / who is neither a poet, in my opinion, nor yet a prose writer /! Even the poems by T. Nikolaeva / Neynik / are over the hill. One of them, the first one, is dedicated to «N.G.» – I suppose, to Natalia Gorbanevskaya. Why not?
That’s why I see a «cultural shift». However, Oleg a participant and, possibly the mastermind of the miscellany, has become an aged maitre, despite a small disparity in years.
Moreover, Kupriyanov is actually their cotemporary. However, Petersburg «localism,» / acceptable and admissible in a controversy with Moscovites, / has closed the eyes of two «well-known poets.»(14)
From the leading article by M. Andreev in «Maya» for 10 years (1990):
The glory didn’t thunder above our heads. Other winds started roaring instead. Since there was no political motive («pure poetry»), the criminal motive turned to be even more preferred.(15)
From Evgeiny Shesholin’s letter to Oleg Okhapkin (1985):
I confess that your poems became the impetus for writing this letter, and I remembered Oleg Okhapkin with his voice of a maitre, that Sosnovaya Polyana, a Siamese cat in a box, and Lord knows what else. Having written so (and it is true), I suddenly realized that it is only the surface of the truth. You are a reliable pillar there, at the «bald frowning sea,» for me. It does not seem reasonable to interrupt our communication. I would be very glad to see you …
I assume you know about the lamented events related to my friends? Anatoliy was sentenced to 3.5 years of high-secured (!) imprisonment; Miroslav — 3 years of community service… and Pino (Igor Panachyov’s friendly nickname. – D.P.) escaped with a conditional sentence. I suppose you have your own diagnosis of the situation and this information is sufficient. There are some nuances. I’ll tell you in person.
How goes the world with you? — I just can’t think. I’ve heard from Nikolay Nikolaevich (Epishev. – D.P.), that you work in the boiler house again. Where are you? Please let me know where I can find you and if I come to your place! I’m often concerned about you and pray for you in my own way. Our last meeting left me with an anxious feeling. I try not to compare, but before that you seemed to me an upstanding man. Then there was the Petersburg period… When I think of you during the last 2 years, deep suspicions concerning reality and values of non- hieratical (secular or whatever?) art usually crowd upon me. You open that question with your figure. The question is not new. However, for me, it is sharp-pointed and directed into the soul. Still, I stay positive. Chronicles (do they have a non-utilitarian value)? A prayer of the soul? — Just as you like (I’ll bleat a psalm)! For me, you are not only a faraway Leningrad elder friend with a different upbringing and viewpoints (forgive me, Florenskiy!), but also a sympathetic great Russian poet, whose fate I got somehow mixed up with…(16)
in the photo: the Pskov poets (from left to right): Evgeniy Shesolin, Artem Tasalov, Miroslav Andreev.Leningrad, 1979.
1.Quotations: Oleg Okhapkin. Love Lyrics / Comp.: Tatiana Kovalkova. SPb., 2013. P. 122.
2.M. Andreev. Literary Miscellany «Maya». Summary // New Literary Review. 1998. № 34 (6). P. 297.
3.Maya // Philosophical Encyclopedic Dictionary / Chief editorial board: L.F. Ilyichev et all. M., 1983. P. 333.
4.Е. Shesholin. Foreword to the 4th issue of «Maya». Quotations: Evgeniy Shesholin. The Emerald from the Bottom of Velikaya. Complete set of poems in three volumes / Comp. and comment.: М. Andreev. P. 499. Hereafter: CSP. A typewritten copy is in the archive of the originator.
5.М. Andreev. Chosen by Euterpe // CSP. P. V-VI.
6.М.Andreev. About the Author // Evgeniy Shesholin. The Emerald from the Bottom of Velikaya. 100 selected poems. Pskov, 1999. P. 6.
7.А. Tasalov. Evgeniy Shesholin: Acquaintance Attempt // E. Shesholin. Impermanent Sun / Comp. and ed.: A. Belousov and G. Shesholina. Rezekne, 2005. P. 253-254, 256.
8.М. Andreev. Chosen by Euterpe. P. I.
9.M. Andreev. «Maya» for 10 years» // Maya. Literary Miscellany. Issue 5. Pskov, 1990. P. 304.
10.E. Shesholin. Foreword to the 4th issue of «Maya». Quotations: CSP. P. 487-498.
11.M. Andreev. «Maya» for 10 years» … P. 304.
12. Quotations: К. Kuzminskiy «Maya». The Fifties» // Anthology of Contemporary Russian Poetry of the Blue Lagoon: in 5 vol. / Konstantin K. Kuzminskiy and Grigoriy L. Kovalev. Vol. 4B. Newtonville, Mass., . P. 143.
15.М. Andreev. «Maya» for 10 years»… P. 304.
16.Quotations: CSP. P. 511-512.
Translated by Julia Zimarskaya, Jay Evic
© Dmitriy S.Prokofiev
© «Okhapkin readings» almanaс № 1, 2015
© «Russian culture», 2018