Rasul Gamzatovich Gamzatov, a Dagestani poet whose writings were translated into dozens of languages, died on Nov. 3. Cause of death was not released. He was 80.
Born in Dagestan, a republic in the Northern Caucasus, Gamzatov began writing poetry when he was 11 years old. He was tutored by his father, Gamzat Tsadasa, a famous bard who regaled him with stories, legends and poetry.
In 1943, Gamzatov published “Love Inspired and Fiery Wrath,” his first book of poems. With royalty money in his pocket, he was able to travel to Moscow and attend the Gorky Institute of Literature.
Over the next 50 years, Gamzatov became one of the most prolific of poets in the former Soviet Union. He wrote 20 books of poetry and prose in his native Avar tongue, a language spoken by no more than 500,000 people. His books were then translated into many languages, which sold millions of copies. Gamzatov also wrote the lyrics to the song, “Cranes,” which appeared in the award-winning 1957 film, “Flying Cranes.”
Gamzatov won the Lenin Prize for poetry and served as the chairman of the Union of Daghestan Writers. He was given the title People’s Poet of Daghestan, and in honor of his 80th birthday, 2003 was designated as Rasul Gamzatov Year.