Uladzimir Niakliayeu

A poet, writer and politician born in Kreva

Uladzimir Niakliayeu is an author of ten books of original poetry and prose many of which have been translated into a number of languages. Thus the poet brought fame to the township his love and devotion to which we feel in his works.

“Kreva is my universe. And I’m its citizen. Some will call it provincial… Well, let them be. I’m not in that age and understanding of life and its values to be ashamed of provinciality,” Uladzimir Niakliayeu has no problem admitting himself being the township patriot.

The future poet, writer and politician was born on July 9, 1946 in Smarhon. His father, Prakop Niakliayeu, comes from Valhahrad region. After the war, he was sent to Western Belarus to open kolkhozy (so-called collective farms in the Soviet Union). He worked as a chairman of the local council in Kreva. There he met Uladzimir’s mother, Anastasiya Mager.

Little Valodzia spent his childhood in Kreva. He still remembers battling with boys on the hillfort and playing in German blindages.

He went to the first form of school in Kreva, and then attended a school in Smarhon till the 9th form. During his school years he was studying music and even played cymbals and bass in the Ahinski Folk Music Orchestra.

At the age of 15 Uladzimir Niakliayeu went to study in Minsk Technical School of Telecommunications. At that period he did boxing and wrestling. However, a serious trauma made him stop training. After graduating from the Technical School, Niakliayeu worked in the Far East and Siberia.

Started as a journalist, ended up an embattled editor

At the age of 21 Niakliayeu returned to Minsk where he worked as a radio mechanic in a studio for 4 years. Simultaneously he was studying at the faculty of philology of Belarusian Pedagogical Institute. Later he quit and went to Moscow to get to the School of Poetry of Literature Institute. Apparently, he changed to distant learning and moved back to Minsk.

A year before his graduation Uladzimir Niakliayeu took to journalism. His career kicked in in 1972 at the newspaper Znamia Yunosti, which was one of the most widely circulated newspapers at that time. When Niakliayeu was 29, he became an editor of the bulletin Theatrical Minsk and three weeks later left to work for the Belarusian TV.

From 1987 to 1998 Uladzimir Niakliayeu was the main editor of Krynitsa magazine. He called his editorial stuff “a luminous constellation”. The team of the magazine included such prominent literary people as Uladzimer Arlou, Leanid Dranko-Maysiuk, Ales Razanau, Leanid Halubovich. But the constellation burnt down.

Niakliayeu fell into disfavor of the Vice Prime-minister Uladzimir Zamiatalin. The poet accused the authorities of killing Belarusian culture. He was fired, and the magazine was closed down soon afterwards.

Till 1999 Uladzimir Niakliayeu had been editing the weekly magazine Litaratura i Mastatstva. After he was fired with a lot of publicity and a conflict with the government, he moved to Poland and then spent 4 years in Finland and returned to Belarus only in 2004.

“Go the Limit” and a novel about Kreva

Uladzimir Niakliayeu writes his works only in Belarusian, although he prepared his first book in Russian. He brought the manuscript to the publishing house Maladaya Gvardiya in Moscow, and then… he took it back and decided to publish his collection in his native language. The book was brought out in 1976 under the title “Adkryccio”.

In the ‘80s Niakliayeu wrote lyrics for many songs by the ensembles Piesniary, Vierasy, Siabry as well as for Zmitser Vaitsiushkevich and pop singers Anzhalika Ahurbash and Iryna Darafeeva. The most popular hit with lyrics by Uladzimir Niakliayeu was “Go the Limit” (in the original, “Huliats dyk huliats”) sang by Siabry. Music for some of his lyrics was written by the prominent Belarusian musician Vasil Rayinchyk.

Niakliayeu published dozens of books, among them are poetry collections “Naskroz”, “Proshcha”, “Kon”, etc., and prose books “Tsentr Europy”, “Znaki Prypynku”…

In 2010 he published “Listy da Voli” (tr. “Letters To The Freedm”), the poems he wrote while kept in the detention center of KGB.

Uladzimir Niakliayeu is also the author of several novels. When in immigration, he launched “Labikh”, and in 2012 published “Autamat z Gaziroukai z Siropam i Biez” which won him the Jerzy Giedroyc international literary award.

In 2015 Belarusian Institute of Arts and Sciences (USA) nominated Uladzimir Niakliayeu for another literary award. The Institute was supported by a New York based publishing house Juliette which brought out a collection of poetry by Niakliayeu. The book “Belarus – Беларусь” was published in three languages: Belarusian, Russian and English.

In February 2018 Uladzimir Niakliayeu published another book of prose “Na Usiakim Svietsie”.

Almost all the works by the poet are somehow connected with Kreva. There are many poems dedicated to Kreva, and if Kreva is not mentioned directly in some of his books, it was anyway where he was working on them.

In one of his last interviews Niakliayeu tells that he is now working on the dramatic text “Kreva” in which he intends to reflect on the dramatic history of the township.

“Everything that is connected with Kreva is my life, my way. Everything connected with the history unfolding on these hills, with the graves of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. It is enough to not feel alone in this world. It’s even more than enough”, confesses Uladzimir Niakliayeu and adds, “I was born in Kreva, and I am going to die here.”

A poet and politician

In 2010 Uladzimir Niakliayeu became a leader of the civil campaign “Gavary Praudu!” (tr. “Tell the Truth!”) which was part of his election campaign at the presidential election in Belarus. After the mass detentions Niakliayeu was arrested. However, he didn’t give up his civic activism and now combines it with literature.