In the fall of 1995 the Nobel-Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky approached the mayor of Rome to urge the creation of a Russian Academy. This would bring Russian artists, writers, and scholars to join their colleagues from other countries who had, for centuries, sought inspiration in that ancient city. Brodsky reminded the mayor of the strong links between pre-revolutionary Russia and Italy: "Italian culture is indeed the mother of Russian aesthetics," he wrote, "and for seventy of this century´s years this connection between the mother and her child was artificially severed." Six years into Russia´s perilous break from dictatorship he urged: "Italy was a revelation to the Russians; now it can become the source of their renaissance."
The Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund was founded in the days after Brodsky´s death by a group of his friends in order to continue this effort in his memory.
The founders decided to begin sending fellows to Rome right away, to give Russian artists the benefits of Brodsky´s idea as soon as possible, while conducting a parallel search for an independent building and institution. Since that time poets Timur Kibirov, Elena Shvarts, Sergei Stratanovsky, Vladimir Strochkov and Mikhail Aizenberg were selected to travel to Rome, as guests of the American Academy in Rome and the Villa Medici, the Academy of France. The fellows were selected by an independent jury constituted by an advisory committee assembled by Brodsky himself.
While continuing to send literary fellows, the Fund broadened its reach in 2002 to include visual artists, thanks to a grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding. Under this grant one artist a year for six years has been given a studio and living space in the American Academy in Rome to live and work for three months.
In the United States, the Fund is headed by Mr. Brodsky´s widow, Maria Sozzani Brodsky, and includes on its board Brodsky´s literary executor, Ann Kjellberg, and Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books. A distinguished group of friends and supporters serves on its advisory board, including for example, Mikhail Baryshnikov and the scholar V.V.Ivanov. Mstislav Rostropovich, with whom Brodsky first formulated the idea for the Academy, was also a member of this advisory board. Writer and lawyer Louis Begley serves as the board’s counsel. The late Dmitri Likhachev, Sir Isaiah Berlin, and Masha Vorobiov were also founding members.
In Italy we work together with Associazione Joseph Brodsky, that includes Roberto Calasso, writer and the director of Adelphi publishing house, and the author and historian Benedetta Craveri.
The Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.Full Mission Statement
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