MANAGUA – The land of legendary Latin American poet Rubén Darío last week celebrated its Russian counterpart, Alexander Pushkin, the 19th century poet who is considered the founder of modern Russian literature.
Pushkin was honored Oct. 10 in an evening of readings and music at the University of Central America (UCA). The event was organized by the Russian Embassy and the newly formed Association for the Promotion of Russian Language and Culture.
The first in a planned series of cultural exchanges, the event brought together poets, musicians and scholars – both Russian and Nicaraguan – to honor Pushkin’s far-reaching literary legacy.
Elena Ramos, a Russian native, gave an impassioned reading of one of Pushkin’s best-known works, the prose novel “Eugene Onegin.”
Ramos has lived in Nicaragua for the past 20 years and is a published poet in Spanish. She recited Pushkin in Spanish as well as her native Russian.
Ramos said she hopes that the new educational series will bring the two countries closer together. There are plans to establish a Russian-language education program and an initiative to place Spanish-language translations of Russian literature in libraries here.
“Pushkin hasn’t been widely read here, mostly because of a lack of access to his poems and prose,” she said. “Though Russia and Nicaragua are very distinct countries, in both literature is fundamental to their identity.”
The sense that there was an underlying connection between the literary traditions of the two countries was echoed by Igor Kondrashev, the Russian Ambassador to Nicaragua, a poet and writer himself.
Kondrashev gave the opening address to the Oct. 10 event celebrating Pushkin.
“Pushkin taught the Russians how to speak Russian,” he said. “Just like Darío taught the world how to speak Spanish.” Darío, known as the Prince of the Spanish letter, is often credited as the father of Modernism, an international literary movement that shattered the conservative constraints of earlier forms.
“Nicaragua has an incredibly rich literary heritage,”Kondrashev said. “That’s why we’re having this event. To create an exchange and to share.”