Judy and Mikhail in 1992 in Kostroma, Russia
Adelaide Books of New York City will publish my first memoir of my Russian experiences early in 2019. Here's a little about it.
I open my experience, not only of coping with a potent love but also of making bonds with a nationally known painter, a school teacher, and a philosophy student. I was one of the first American writers to visit the Kostroma region, and my partner in the exchanges was a new experience for central North Carolina residents. Our writer exchanges and mutual publishing projects continued through 2001. These new connections occurred as Russia went through the upheaval of changing from Communism to Capitalism. This intense experience of working on peace and understanding with our former enemy was the biggest event of my life.
In 1992 I would meet Vera Belikh, the painter and philosopher daughter of the national painter, Aleksei Belikh, whom I met in 1990 during my first visit. Here is Vera's painting of a church by the Volga, in the autumn.
This is the Black River flowing through the remote forest or taiga in the Mezha District of the Kostroma Region. The county officials took me to see the landscape near where Mikhail had been born, in a village among many lost during the collectivization of the farms, and the loss of men in World War II (The Great Patriotic War). Mikhail talked and reminisced about his growing up in a village from the beginning of our writer exchanges.
In August 1992 I was also able to spend some time in the village of Gorka, where MIkhail's wife Katya had grown up. Left to right, Tanya, Mikhail's granddaughter, Larissa, married to Mikhail's son Misha, standing, then the little son of Misha and Larissa, then Shura, Katya's sister-in-law, and Katya's brother Kolya, and in front: Aleksei (Alyosha), Mikhail's younger son, and then Mikhail. Taken in front of the village house, where I also stayed.
In Moscow after I visited Kostroma in August 1990, I met Larissa Bavrina (on the right),pictured here with her friend Tanya, close since childhood. Larissa gave me and my son a tour of Red Square before we caught our train back to Finland. Larissa and I still correspond. She's become a close friend of mine.Our early letters, 1990-92 are in Baba Summer: Part One. Judy