Poet. Born a photographer's son in Leningrad, Russia, although the family primarily lived on the income brought in by his mother. As a young child he and his family survived the Siege of Leningrad. After the war he began attending school, though he dropped out at the age of fifteen and began working at the Arsenal defense plant, eventually having thirteen jobs between 1956 and 1962. Some of his more interesting jobs during this time were in a morgue and on a geological expedition. In the late Fifties, during the Thaw period in the Soviet Union, Brodsky began writing poetry and taught himself Polish and English. When the Thaw came to an end, however, the authorities charged him with being a "social parasite," put him on trial, and found him "guilty." Brodsky was then sent to a mental institution and sentenced to five years of hard labor, but because of the protests of a number of prominent Soviet artists, performers, writers, and other public figures, the sentence was commuted in 1965 and he only had to serve eighteen months in Arkhangelsk. Only four of his poems were published in the U.S.S.R. after the Thaw ended; the rest were smuggled abroad. IN 1972 he left the country, going first to Vienna and then on to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1977. In the United States he continued to write his poetry and essays, as well as serving as a visiting professor at a number of universities, including Columbia University, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and the University of Michigan. In 1987 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and during 1991-92 was America's Poet Laureate. He died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-five.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne