The center of freethinking and freedom-loving (“House of a Poet”) attracted many generations of intellectuals to Koktebel. It welcomed innovation and originality. Since the beginning of the past century the latest literary and musical works were presented at Voloshin’s House, there was a constant tense debate about the ways of contemporary art and culture in general, people generated ideas that defined scientific and historical breakthroughs…
Since 1984 the building has been used as a place for House Museum of Maximilian Voloshin (1877-1932) – a great poet, artist, translator, an original critic, brilliant philosopher, and a visionary. It is a unique museum! The historic building and authentic collection allow to put it in line with European museums that were fortunate enough to withstand the storms of inviolable 20th century. Natalia MIROSHNICHENKO, director of the House Museum of Maximilian Voloshin, told The Day about how they mark the 100th anniversary of the “House of a Poet.”
“Maximilian Voloshin began to build a house in Koktebel from his own design in 1903 and finished it in 1913. The original building blended harmoniously into the landscape of Koktebel. The original, well-thought-out interior layout still surprises and amazes professional architects. During the life of the owner this building received the name ‘House of a Poet’ and became a symbol of artistic, spiritual, and intellectual atmosphere that prevailed here thanks to the restless imagination, the ability to communicate and bring others together for creative communication of the man, whose name glorified Koktebel and entered the culture not only of Ukraine and Russia, but also the world culture.
“In the years that passed from the beginning of the past century thousands of people had their ‘communion’ of this amazing ‘island of culture’ that existed here in all the most difficult and spiritless times, surviving the terrible disasters in the society, bloody times (the time of the civil war and the Nazi occupation). Hundreds of works dedicated to Voloshin and his wonderful House, hundreds of memories, artistic and literary works about the Poet, the House, and Koktebel indicate the value of this spiritual sanctuary of creative people from different generations.”
Let’s remind our readers about the owner of this extraordinary place that was called by a poet Andrii Bily “one of the cultural centers.”
“Maximilian Kirienko-Voloshin is a distinguished poet and translator, a brilliant critic, fine artist, and philosopher. He was born in Kyiv on May 16 (May 28 according to the New Style), 1877. Paternal ancestors were Zaporozhian Cossacks, while maternal ancestors were Germans russified in the 18th century. Voloshin studied law at Moscow University. He traveled a lot in his youth years, attended lectures at the Louvre and the Sorbonne. In Paris Voloshin got acquainted with many famous writers and artists.”
When the first collection of Voloshin’s poetry was published?
“It happened in 1910 in Moscow. It was called Stikhotvorenia. 1900-1910 (Poems. 1900-1910). It was, by the way, highly praised by critics. Four years later the first book of his critical essays – Liki Tvorchestva (Faces of Creativity) was published. This happened at the time when Voloshin stayed mostly in Koktebel.”
“MY HOME IS OPEN TOWARDS ALL THE ROADS”
Natalia MIROSHNICHENKO continues her story: “Before the Revolution, people made real pilgrimage to the small Crimean town. Among the visitors of Voloshin’s house there were Nikolay Gumilev, Margarita Sabashnikova (future wife of Maximilian Voloshin), Alexey Tolstoy, Elizaveta Dmitrieva (who became known under the pseudonym of Cherubina de Gabriak), Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva, Mikhail Prishvin, Maxim Gorky, and others…”
HOUSE OF A POET, 1916 / Photo from the website VOLOSHIN.CRIMEA.UA
Where was Voloshin when the Revolution broke out?
“In his autobiography we read: ‘February 1917 finds me in Moscow. After I returned to the Crimea in spring of 1917 I don’t leave it anymore, I don’t try to rescue from anyone, I don’t emigrate – and all the waves of the Civil War and the change of government take place over my head. Poetry remains the only way for expressing thoughts for me.’ Until the full establishment of the Soviet power in the Crimea it survived ‘the fight against terror – the white and red terror, depending on the change of government in the Crimea!’”
Did he publish any collections of poetry back at that time?
“In 1918 a collection of poems Iverni was published in Moscow, in 1919 another one was published in Kharkiv by the publishing house “Kamena” – Demony Glukhonemye (Deaf Demons), the last collection compiled by the author published during his life. The so-called proletarian writers and critics had a real witch-hunt on Voloshin in the official press, which intensified after a collection of his poems O Terrore (On Terror) was published in Berlin in 1923 (unbeknownst to Voloshin).”
And yet the Lord had kept this man with a truly global way of thinking. Since when did Voloshin’s house in Koktebel become the official refuge for writers?
“In 1924 Voloshin received a certificate authorizing him to the opening of a free house for writers in his home. Every year the number of visitors increased. In 1928 there were over 600 people. Old friends continued to come, while the poet kept making new ones.”
When was the house transferred to the Union of Writers to be used as the House of Art?
“In 1931 Voloshin wrote a statement on the transfer of his mother’s house, a stone outbuilding, and the first floor of his house to the all-Russian Union of the Soviet Writers to be used as the House of Art. On August 11, 1932 Voloshin passed away. He died at 11 o’clock in the afternoon at the age of 56 from asthma, complicated by influenza and pneumonia. Friends fulfilled his will and buried him on the Mount Kucuk Enishar… Hundreds of people climb the mountain during summer time along the trail between the hills to stand, reflect on life in ‘Old Testament silence’ as Marina Tsvetaeva wrote about this place.”
“LUCKY LOT NEVER TURNED AWAY FROM MY HOUSE”
There are places that keep memories of Voloshin in Kyiv. Please, tell us about them.
“On the 130th anniversary of Voloshin’s birth thanks to the efforts of Kyiv librarian Halyna Melnyk it was accurately established in what house Voloshin was born. The researcher gave the discovered documents to the House Museum of the Poet in Koktebel. A graduate of the Institute for Noble Maidens Elena Glazer in 1866 got married to the collegiate assessor Alexander Kirienko-Voloshin. They rented an apartment from a merchant Adam Snezhko in a house on the corner of the Bibikovsky Boulevard and Pirohovskaya Street.”
But before it was assumed that Maximilian Voloshin was born in one of the houses on Tarasivska Street. This address was pointed out by the researcher of Voloshin’s life and creative work Volodymyr Kupchenko and other researches also wrote about it.
“This is a wrongful assumption. The cases on the construction work in the city are stored in the State Archives in Kyiv. These documents helped to define the location of the house, where Kirienko-Voloshins rented an apartment and where the future poet, artist, and philosopher was born. The most amazing fact is that the building is still where it was built. However, it is hidden in the extensions and additional buildings of the Drahomanov National Pedagogical University on 22-24/9 Taras Shevchenko Boulevard. The corner of the Taras Shevchenko Boulevard and Pirohov Street is that corner of Bibikovsky Boulevard and Bolnichnaya (Pirohovskaya) Street, where the merchant Adam Snezhko built a house in 1872-73. In 1908 the Commercial Institute acquired two estates – one from the Snezhko heirs and the next one from Belohorsky. According to the design of architect Obremsky in 1911-12 the fourth floor was added to the house of Snezhko (now it is the part of the building on 24/9 Taras Shevchenko Boulevard) and on the corner of Bibikovsky Boulevard and Nesterovskaya Street (now Taras Shevchenko Boulevard and Ivan Franko Street) on the place of Belohorsky’s estate a four-stored building was attached. The building of 1872-73 received its current appearance in 1914-15, when according to the design of architect Kobelev an additional construction was built on Pirohov Street. As a result the entire building, facing three streets, became four-stored. I learned about the biography of this building at the Office for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Kyiv. Now it is protected by the state as a monument of architecture.”
For how long did Kirienko-Voloshins live in this house?
“Before they left for Taganrog. As we know from ‘Formulary List of the Service,’ Alexander Voloshin was transferred to the District Court of Taganrog in February of 1878. In March, according to Kupchenko, Elena Glaze with their son followed her husband…”
“Lucky lot never turned away from my house” – these words like many others written by the poet became a prophecy. Since 2003 Voloshin’s House hosts the International Literary Symposium “Voloshin September.” Who will participate in the forum this year?
“The symposium is attended by famous writers from different countries. Among the most active participants I can name poets Oleksandr Kabanov, Iryna Evsa, Stanislav Minakov, and widow of Borys Chichibabin Lilia Karas-Chichibabina. Poet Bakhyt Kenzheev will come from Canada for the third time already.
“The whole week (September 16 through 22) there will be held poetic tournaments, masters’ workshops, meetings of famous poets and writers with the Crimean residents. The culmination of the forum will be the International Meeting of the Friends of Maximilian Voloshin’s House: Open Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Historical and Cultural Reserve ‘Maximilian Voloshin’s Cimmeria’ which includes the House Museum of the poet, and also the ceremony of awarding the winners of the Voloshin’s International Prize and Voloshin’s International Literary Competition, presentation of commemorative coin of the National Bank of Ukraine and commemorative products of UkrPoshta. There will also be held a scientific and cultural conference titled ‘Cimmerian Topos: Myths and Reality’ and a plain air session for artists.
“The exhibition ‘Maximilian Voloshin: Genius Loci’ is presented at the Ukraine’s National Art Museum from August 28 until September 22 in the framework of celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ‘House of a Poet.’ The name for the exhibition was picked not by chance, in the old times people gave the name Genius Loci, guardian spirit to those, who zealously guarded the unique atmosphere of the place. This Latin phrase was used as a name for Voloshin during his lifetime.”