Alva Robinson

University of Washington, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Reflections of A Soviet Kyrgyz Writer in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Born in 1935, Mirzabek Toybayev, is one of Kyrgyzstan’s most prolific writers. His voluminous collection of literary works include a range or poems, plays, and prose. His accomplishments as a writer have been acknowledged and remembered by a plethora of educators, thinkers, and writers. I personally met Mirzabek Toybayev in the fall of 2010 through his son Sultan Toybayev, an undergraduate at the National University of Kyrgyzstan. After translating a few of his poems (“My Kyrgyzstan,” and “Ene Sutum,”) and working with the author closely, I developed a close bond with the family that resulted in a more lucid understanding of his works. My presentation will, thus, be focusing on a selection of poems written by Kyrgyzstan’s National Writer and Outstanding Playwright Mirzabek Toybayev. The poems by Mirzabek Toybayev were written during both the Soviet and Post-Kyrgyz Independence Periods (1950’s – early 2000’s). The poems reflect the continuously evolving atmosphere of the Soviet Union and the consequential aftermath of independence. These poems also bear witness to the creation of a more synergetic identity for the Kyrgyz, one that was dependent on Pre-Soviet Kyrgyz identity markers coupled with seventy years of Soviet manipulation. The aim of the presentation is to highlight the thematic and linguistic differences between both periods by considering the literary elements of the poems, historical and cultural influences of the periods, and recent conversations with the author. The importance of exploring such differences, therefore, may lead us as readers and scholars to understand the subtle inculcation of external thought and ideology through literature. This assumption is based on the idea, as an Uzbek scholar put it, that literature (language) and social thought are intimately intertwined. Key to making this assertion is the reliance on a careful analysis of word choice, symbols, and historical circumstances included within the poems. The resulting analysis, moreover, may shed light on the growing progress of Kyrgyz independent thought and ideology through literature.

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