Poet. For a time associated with the Russian Acmeists, her best poems, among them "No, The Drumbeat", "Rat-Catcher", and "We Shall Not Escape Hell", are considered earthy and almost masculine in their strength and directness. She had many affairs and celebrated sex in her writing; her poem sequence "Girlfriend", completed in 1921 but not published for 50 years, recounted her lesbian relationship with the poet Sofia Parnok as the great love of her life. She later married (unhappily) and had three children. After the 1917 Revolution Tsvetaeva denounced "Bolshevik barbarism" and went into exile in Europe, settling in Paris in 1925. There she was shunned by fellow Russian emigres because her weak-willed husband worked occasionally as a spy for the Soviets, and because she openly defended certain Soviet poets. Her work during this period, especially the long verse fairy tale "The Czar-Maiden", expressed increasing nostalgia for her homeland. In June of 1939, ignoring reports of Stalinist terror, she and her family returned to the Soviet Union. Soon after their arrival her husband was arrested and shot and her daughter sent to a labor camp. Trapped in Moscow and barred from publishing, she was reduced to such squalor that when a burglar broke into her room and saw how she was living, he gave her some of his own money and left. With the Nazi invasion of the USSR Tsvetaeva was evacuated to the remote eastern village of Yelabuga where, broke and despairing, she hanged herself. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the local Tartar cemetery. The Association of Tartar Writers donated a memorial plaque in 1970 and there is now a headstone for her as well, though her actual grave location remains unknown. There is also a memorial for Tsvetaeva in the town of Tarusa, Russia, where she wanted to be buried. Today she rates a high position in Russian letters. Boris Pasternak called her "The outstanding poet of the twentieth century", and her birthplace in Moscow is now a museum.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards