Literary meeting to commemorate Kazakh poet Mukagali Makatayev’s 90th birth anniversary

An online literary meeting was held on March 10, 2021, to commemorate the 90th birth anniversary of the outstanding Kazakh writer, poet and translator Mukagali Makatayev.

More than 50 people partcipated in the 40-minute event, which became possible thanks to the joint efforts of the Kazakhstan embassies in Singapore, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia and the Consulate General of Kazakhstan in Sydney and the Honorary Consulate of Kazakhstan in Auckland.

Compatriots and friends of Kazakhstan from nine countries read poems and sang songs about Mukagali in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Those who read out his poems included Yerzhan Mukash, a special guest from Kazakhstan, Anar Kabdenova (Australia), Abdullah Asgari (Australia), Benjamin Anderson (Australia), Karabalina Nazgul (South Korea), Azwa Yong (Malaysia), Ismagulova Symbat (India), Aldiyar Zagitov (Vietnam), Alikhan Batyrbekuly (Singapore), Anara Mussina (Thailand), Thamonwan Radompeng (Thailand), Kazbek Bokebayev (Indonesia) and Marat Kalizhanov (Australia).

A short documentary film about the life and work of the poet was also shown.

Watch the full video of the literary meeting here:

“His poetry touched the hearts of many readers,” tweeted Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. “The poet’s anniversary coincides with the 30th anniversary of our independence. This is a holiday for every citizen of Kazakhstan.”

To celebrate Mukagali’s life and works, many articles were publised and literary meetings held in Kazakhstan. In schools, students read out his poems and wrote essays about his creative side and nationalistic spirit.

The Khantaniri National Theatre in Almaty staged one of the poet’s works called “Swans asleep” on January 31, 2021.

Born on February 9, 1931, in the village of Karasaz, in the Almaty region, Mukagali wrote his first poem at age 17. His first book of poems was published when he was 33.

He wrote more than 4,000 poems in the two months he spent in a hospital due to a serious illness. He died aged 45. Most of his poems were published after his death.

Mukagali’s life was short but it was highly creative. He spent more than 30 years in Karasaz. The last 10 years of his life, excluding the two years of study at the Literary Institute in Moscow, were spent in Almaty, the business capital of Kazakhstan.

Friends and contemporaries appreciated his optimism and vitality. Compassion, empathy, charity and mercy were some of the subjects he often touched upon.

“The days without poems for me are lifeless,” he once wrote in his diary. “I thank God for giving me this consolation. A poet has his own world, his own society and his own universe. I live for this and fight for this.”

Mukagali also translated William Shakespeare’s sonnets, Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and other poems into Kazakh. His last poem was titled “Requiem to Mozart”, as he was fascinated by Mozart’s music.

During his life, the poet faced ordeals, unemployment, Communist censorship, harassment from fellow poets and expulsion from the Writers’ Association of Kazakhstan.

But he overcame all that to be recognised as a “unique poetic voice”. He expressed deep human feelings and emotions that reached the hearts of all who love poetry.

Mukagali’s 90th birth anniversary celebrations in Kazakhstan will continue with the erection of his monument and the launch of a book, which will have poems, songs and illustrations dedicated to the poet.

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