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Ilyas Dzhansugurov

This photo made in 1923 depicts an amazingly beautiful person, deep, intelligent, full of passion and sadness in his eyes. Everything is impressive in his big face, high forehead, bushy eyebrows, broad and curved nose. The Kazakh National headwear makes his appearance look mighty knight, a brave heroic man. It is the photo of Ilyas Dzhansugurov, a classic of the Kazakh literature, a distinguished poet, novelist, dramatist, satirist, essayist, and public figure.

Ilyas Dzhansugurov's desk and bookshelves

At this photo Ilyas Dzhansugurov is hardly 30 years old. At that age he was among the prominent, talented, bright personalities of his time,full of unbridled energy of a man. He will create his best work, livea happy life with the only woman he loved, the mother of his children, his muse Fatima Gabitova. One of the unique photos from the family album, which looks like a “Stranger” painting by Kramskoi, depicts Fatima Gabitova, whowas naturally endowed with a rare beauty, and rare wisdom. She was a teacher, a scientist and a very talented poetess. Fatima was a proud and strong woman, who was able to withstand hard life tests. All the love poems ofIlyas Dzhansugurov are addressed to her one and only, Fatima Gabitova.

I loved you blindly and fully
On the golden beaches of Irtish
Perhaps, besides us, this whole world
Is empty - and coldness has descended
And only - "Darling I am yours forever!"
Irtish has heard through rapid breathing
And blood was boiling, heart fluttering insanely
Your face became ablaze with sweetest fires
My love, this life will never be enough!
And as we kissed, I uttered, come to me

~ Ilyas Dzhansugurov

Poem for his wife Fatima

Ilyas Dzhansugurov's typewriter ~ 1930

Every moment of his life is filled with creative work. Ilyas Dzhansugurov writes an incredible amount of work and all of them are sparkling. It seemed thathe had a premonition that it is necessary to do and to say a lot. During his short life he managed to pen five huge volumes of essays. The sixth volume was prepared, but was never published. The Kazakh writer Gerold Belger once said that “It is difficult to find and even imagine such violent floods, rapid flow of the Kazakh language elements, all the colors, the richness, the diversity, strength, vigor, beauty of the Kazakh artistic expression”. The poet Vsevolod Rozhdestvensky, who has translated poems by Ilyas Dzhansugurov, once said that “The poetry of Ilyas Dzhansugurov draws its strength from the rich expressiveness of the treasury of folk tales and legends. He extols the beauty of his native land, and every blade of grass, each spring. His paintings of Semirechye are breathing with freshness of mountain streams, sparkling diamonds, and snowy peaks, all the bounty of nature is reflected in the picturesque edges of his poetic landscapes”.

The great poet, a classic of the Kazakh literature Ilyas Dzhansugurov was born on May 1, 1894 in Aksu municipality of the Kapalsk county, in the territory of modern Almaty region. From his childhood he knew the Arabic language, the Kazakh folklore, the poetry of Abai. He studied at the Mamaniya secular school, which was famous in the whole Semirechye and received an excellent education.

In the autobiography of Ilyas Dzhansugurov from November 15, 1935 it is possible to trace a dynamic career as a teacher, a poet, a journalist, and a prominent public figure. After the establishment of the Soviet power in 1920, Ilyas Dzhansugurov moved to Alma-Ata, enrolled for short-term teacher-training courses and in autumn entered a two-year training courses for teachers. In the autumn of 1922 he became an employee of the Tilshi regional newspaper. He writes poems, satires, short stories. In 1925 he went to Moscow to study at the Communist Institute of Journalism, which he graduated from in 1928. After returning home, he had begun working for the Yenbekshi Kazakh regional newspaper, where he had been working until 1932. From 1932 to 1935 Ilyas Dzhansugurov was the chairman of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan. In 1936-37, until his arrest, he was an editor of the poetry of Kazakh fiction publishing house. Short and concise autobiography hides bright creative life of an enthusiastic poet and citizen.

Iliyas with his children only months before his arrest.

Throughout November and December of 1936 the “Sotsialistik Kazakhstan” newspaper published a new poem by Ilyas Dzhansugurov called “Kulager”. People were rushing to buy this newspaper. This is the poem about the tragic fate of Akhan-sere, the singer, the poet, the composer. The story of his heroic horse Kulager was a huge success with readers. The poem was his spiritual testament, and a warning to the impending Stalinist repressions, his last poetic word before his arrest.

Dzhansugurov's arrest picture before he was executed.

As a patriot of his native land Ilyas Dzhansugurov tried to warn his people about spiritual destruction. In about a year all newspapers with the “Kulager” poem will be destroyed in all the libraries. Only twenty years later, after the rehabilitation of Ilyas Dzhansugurov, the writer Sapargali Begalin, a classic of Kazakh literature for children, will bring into the house of Fatima Gabitova rolls of newspapers, which he had kept all this time in the cushions. So “Kulager” returned again to delight the power of the poetic gift of the great poet Ilyas Dzhansugurov. Since then, he was called the Kulager of the Kazakh poetry, noble, enthusiastic, looking to the future.

Original Court document of February 26, 1938. Ilyas Dzhansugurov
is judged guilty. “The sentence is final and subjected to immediate execution”.

The poet’s daughter Ilfa Ilyassovna Dzhansugurova-Dzhandosova once wrote that the “Kulager” poem was his swan song. In 1936 the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs spread its power throughout the country. Everyone was in fear. There are whistle blowers and arrests were everywhere. It was the time of informers and executioners. Every patriot of his people realized what was happening in the country. The poet was also affected by repressions. Ilyas Dzhansugurov was accused of involvement in the counter-revolutionary nationalist organization. On February 26, 1938 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced him to death. “The sentence is final and subjected to immediate execution”.

On the threshold of this day Ilyas Dzhansugurov was full of creative plans and hopes. The country was approaching the 100th anniversary since the death of Alexander Pushkin. Ilyas Dzhansugurov decided to present his readers the untranslatable Eugene Onegin. The researcher of translations of Ilyas Dzhansugurov Gerold Belger wrote enthusiastically that this deed needed courage and insolence. He had great faith in his strength and talent. He showed a great sense of duty to the time and the people. He was responsible for the poetry. According to Mukhtar Auezov, the translation of “Eugene Onegin” into the Kazakh language was made in six months, on the eve of the anniversary of Alexander Pushkin. But all translations of Ilyas Dzhansugurov will become property of people only after the rehabilitation of the poet. His family, his wife Fatima Gabitova managed to preserve the priceless poetic creations of the poet for descendants.

The daughter of Ilyas Dzhansugurov Ilfa Ilyasovna has opened a memorial fund of her father. The country publishes books, opens museums, schools and universities named after the great poet. The cultural heritage of the poet is being translated into many languages. Directors are creating films and performances based on his works. The “Kulager” of the Kazakh poetry continues his rapid running, and excites admiring hearts and minds of all who ever touched the life and work of Ilyas Dzhansugurov.

Producer: Zhanna Sinelnikova
Authors: Gulmira Dzhainamazova, Gulzhainar Suleimenova
Directors: Dinara Abdrakhmanova, Dana Bakasheva

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From "Faces of History"
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