Vagif Samadoglu Life


Poet, playwright, public figure Vagif  Samadoghlu (Vakilov), is one the great masters of  quills of  XX century. He was born on June 5, 1939 in Baku. He was born on the same day as Federico Garcia Lorca and Mikayil Mushfig. Lorca fell a victim to Franco’s dictatorship, Mushfig himself was a victim of  Stalin’s dictatorship. Vagif  wrote his own extraordinary biography and shared the same fate spiritually.

I was born in 1939, In 1937, I was arrested…

Being loyal to poetry brings together these three great poets that born on the same day and month. Lorca refreshed the Spanish poetry with guitar tones, Mushfig brought back the sounds of a tar to our poetry, while jazz and classical music were main elements in Vagif Samadoglu’s creative activity: To live in minor, to die in major like a Bach piece…
Vagif  Samadoghlu was a third child born to a family of  a notable figure of Azerbaijani literature, Samad Vurgun. His mother – Khaver khanim Mirzabeyova studied music (piano), and then graduated from the Philology Department of  Baku State University. She was the one who introduced little Vagif  to entrancing world of piano music.

                                                   If my mother bore me
                                                   In the Marquesas islands
                                                   It is perhaps,
                                                   My father would name me 
                                                   He even would write a poem
                                                   In honour of me.
                                                   Already grown-up Khemao 
                                                   Would wish to be born in
                                                   Maternity home
                                                   In Baku.
                                                   He would dreamt about being named
                                                   And poor fella would get bored in the
                                                   Marquesas island...

Vagif’s childhood passed in a literary-cultural atmosphere and he saw prominent musicians, writers and painters of that period with whom his family had close relationship. Being passionate about music and books, he was always interested in learning everything at an early age.

It helped to form him as a young mature man. In 1956, he graduated from the piano faculty of school of music currently named after Bulbul with excellent grades. As an award he perfomed Rachmaninov’s first consert with symphonic orchestra conducted by Niyazi in philharmonic theatre. In the same year  he enrolled the piano faculty of Azerbaijan State Conservatory (Baku Academy of Music) named after Uzeyir Hajibeyli. In 1962 he successfully graduated from the conservatory. In the same year he was awarded the title of a pianist at the third festival of Azerbaijani youth.

He attended two year course as a trainee in Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in 1962-1964. Living in Moscow atmosphere where freethinking view of  life raged in Kruschev thaw period could not but  impress Vagif’s worldview. After he return from Moscow he began teaching piano in Baku conservatory in 1964-1972. 

                                                   I was a big blue mammoth
                                                   In the period of ice age
                                                   There was no Koroghlu,   
                                                   No Mary Pickford,
                                                   Or Henry Ford.
                                                   There was no right or left.
                                                   There was no traffic light road.
                                                   Ice again...
                                                   It was cold...
                                                   I was a big, blue mammoth
                                                   Now... I am a piano teacher...

It should be pointed out that, in the early 80s this poem was very popular in the Baltic states and were included into the literature classbooks of  Latvia schools. Vagif was an expert in every genre of music. He worshipped Chopin, Mozart, Mahler, Rachmaninoff and the other classics. He knew American and modern jazz quite well, used to play the piano perfectly – this has not gone unnoticed by his creative work. Being inspired by the music he chose to be a poet for the rest of  his life.

Vagif  hosted the programme “Jazz Club” on the Azerbaijan State TV Channel in the middle of  80s and played a huge role in popularization of  jazz in Azerbaijan.

                                                   I wish it were 1923 now
                                                   And I were in Chicago.
                                                   I wish I were sitting
                                                   in a café there,
                                                   smoking my pipe.
                                                   And I wish some “swing”
                                                   were being played.
                                                   I wish it were being played
                                                   on a brown grand piano
                                                   which was out of tune.
                                                   I wish I were playing
                                                   that grand piano
                                                   as a black man.
Vagif Samadoglu Life

Vagif  Samadoghlu, that had already chose to be a poet, held the post of director of the department of art of Azerbaijan Ensyclopedia in 1967-1970.  In the begining of 70s, he had been working as a screenwriter in the film studio “Azerbaijanfilm” named after J. Jabbarly. In 1978-1982, he was an a editor in publishing house “Yazichi”  and director of  literary part of  the theatre actors in the film studio in 1982-1985.  In 1992-1994 he worked as an editor-in-chief at the independent newspaper of Azerbaijani writers  “Oguz Eli”. He actively participated in national liberation movement of Azerbaijani people in the late 80s. Following Azerbaijan’s independence he was elected deputy to the National Assembly (2000-2010) and a member of  Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation of  PACE (2000-2005).

From the first day, Vagif  came to literature he had become a subject of close attention because of philosophical depth and manner of reciting his poems. Impressed by his poems, people’s poet Rasul Rza wrote: “ It is perhaps, that young man who took the quills for the first time, wrote these rich poems full of modern thinking and wide observation.

If  I die an untimely death,
Say: “He lived long.”
If  I die when I am old,
Say that I died prematurely.
If  I lie in bed for a year
and then die,
Say that I died unexpectedly.
And if  I die unexpectedly,
say that I died
after a lingering illness.

Modern thinking in his poems were reflected not only for its form and size, whereas Vagif’s poems were innovative in this context. Meanwhile  his poems attracted with its simplicity and extraordinary human feelings and suffering and the power of poetic thinking.

                                                   Don’t place a marble stone
                                                   Upon my grave,
                                                   Nor erect a monument on it.
                                                   Just leaves a pair of shoes there
                                                   For someone barefoot to wear.

Rasul Rza wrote and published an article about Vagif  called  “Come out to wide path”  with some poems in the magazine Azerbaijan in 1963. This year can be considered as the begining of the creative activity of  Vagif  Samadoghlu. However this way was very hard and bittersweet.

It is widely acknowledged that 60s are considered as the awakening  period in the history of  society and the returning to roots. New visions, means of expression, new attitudes to the world and life were formed in this period. And Vagif  Samadoghlu was one of the leading masters in the process of modernizing.

In 1968 and 1972 after many obstacles poet’s two collections – “Fate of the day”, and “Telegram from road”  were published with limited edition. Vagif’s parish in literature was a great event. Vagif’s taboo poems were passed from hand to hand and translated into foreign languages. Readers were astonished and enchanted by his poetry.

His poems touched people and made them to think, to admire. He became a real guru of  literature for the some generations of young Azerbaijani modernist poets of  70s and 80s. The young poet  faced severe literary criticism.  The official criticism attacked the young poet conservatively because of the forms, characters and themes of  his poems and because he did not write the way his father did. His poems were not comply with the Soviet idealogy thematically and formally. After all this poet decided not to publish his poems.

                                                   I want to forget my poems
                                                   As soon as I write them,
                                                   It seems like my words 
                                                   Had not written on the sheet
                                                   But on the gravestone.

Being faithful to his poetic world Vagif preferred to keep silence. It was also his protest. He wrote his poems in silence.

                                                   Step aside,
                                                   Keep a place for a death near you,
                                                   Maiden Tower,
                                                   Don’t pretend like you are an immortal
                                                   In a city that got far away from the Caspian Sea.
                                                   Shame, be quiet, 
                                                   Keep silence,
                                                   In a city of silent poets…

The expression “The poet who keeps silence” sounds as a symbol of  Vagif’s poetic destiny.  Vagif  protected himself from the pressure of the Soviet censorship without being published. As a poet he protected his own freedom and freedom of mind. He endured suffering of being silent without bending the knee before the political and ideological demands. He found his sanctuary in his own poetic ego. He found his solace in the quote: “A man who fears a poet’s word, either a madman or a hangman.” It should be acknowledged that though a hope that the poems written by will ever published were extremely low, but despite that, Vagif never break down. He relentlessly was behind the desk, that in the truest sense of the term were poetic courage.

Vagif’s first book was published during the years of independence. The poems that published after 24 years, proved that, Vagif’s poetry stands above a time which possessed by its importance and relevance and all political regimes and social institutions. Vagif  Samadoghlu, who had unique style of writing in the world of poetry is one of the innovators of Azerbaijani poetry. His whole lyrics are the passion of self-knowledge, acknowledgment of his inner world and human psychology. His poems are nameless and often culminate with three dots.

His poems has an ancient eastern philosophy inherited from the poets of the East. But at the same time his poems are very modern. God, Freedom, Death, Loneliness and World – these are the main themes of  Vagif Samadoglu’s poetry. His poems are  original, modern and fresh in every theme. For the first time in our poetry his poems full of “Appeals to God” took off the cover from God. And man became closer to God.

                                                   God, who do you have in this world
                                                   Besides me?
                                                   Who do I  have in this world
                                                   Besides You?
                                                   You are one
                                                   And I am one
                                                   My Lord...

Since the day Vagif begin his creative activity, he opened a deep essence of this dialogue as the logical result of the tireless communication with God. Forever asking for help from God, he called the whole world and mankind to help God:

                                                   It’s not time for promising nazirs
                                                   and praying,
                                                   Or for cursing and blaming.
                                                   The world should keep silent now,
                                                   It’s time to help God…

In Azerbaijan literature no one wrote about death as often as Vagif  Samadoghlu. Death and life are the beginning and the end of the same path. At the very beginning of life death take care of her, saving for himself. And a life is swinging in the cradle of death. Death patiently follows how life passes through suffering and waiting for her as the most loyal beloved one.

Death as an orphan is on the threshold. Vagif takes inevitability of death as the eternal truth. He prepares a man for it, training them not to fear it. He call them to endure life patiently. New philosophical attitude towards the images, creation of wide palette and ability of expressing the deep thoughts are the main characteristics of his poetry. Vagif’s manner of speech and the way of thinking are innovative and original.

                                                   Göz yaşı da axar sudur,
                                                   tapır axarını, 
                                                   burda batsa bu gün
                                                   gəlib sabah ordan çıxacaq,
                                                   bir göz tapıb özünə
                                                   yer üzünə axacaq.
                                                   Bizdə quruyub
                                                   sızdə yaşaracaq...
Vagif Samadoglu Life

The greatness of Vagif’s art that in his signature style is unique. No one ever sounded as this paradoxical and sudden way of thinking. His wisdom involves comparison. There is a philosophical image behind every comparison. These comparisons rise to level of metaphors: Fish caught from the ocean of tears tastes like a history; you are delicious as a hot bread, you are lazy like a mugham sounds in the heat of the summer; today heaven looks like a peasant old woman who stares at her past, sitting on the threshold; Even the best intentions eventually turns to evil, like a victorious revolution that became the power; Child’s smile is my rhyme…

His lyric poetry is rich with proverbs, wisdom statements. Vagif  Samadoghlu’s poetry is being compared to fuzzy logic by Lotfi Zadeh. His poetry does not contain sadness, happiness, joy, love, false and truth in absolute terms, only God is considered as an absolute. Vagif expressed this logic in his works in artistic language.

In whatever genre he did not wrote, his poems, plays, screenplays, parables, song lyrics – his great talent is visible everywhere. He had enriched our national dramaturgy with substantial works and ennobled it to the next level. Vagif  Samadoghlu is a thinker capable to get into the depth of human and social relationships. His creativity is closely linked with national roots and therefore is very powerful and rich. His plays are full of significant proverbs and sayings. Unique and peculiar humor, style of a master that used national dialects and  accents in his works are subject of special interest. Tragicomedies such as “Engagement Ring”, “Summer Snowball Fight” , “Suicide”, “General’s Last Order”, “Mamoy’s Dreams” were performed in the Azerbaijani theatres. Televison films such as trilogy  “A Man in Green Glasses” and “Egg” had gained a big love of the audience. Behind all the comedy, Vagif  Samadoghlu’s plays has sadness making a man to think that awakens from the sleep.The characters’ speech in his plays attracts the attention. Everyone speaks in his own language, either it is accent, dialect, inner speech or logical thoughts. Thoughts and narratives in his works became a parables and famous as a sample of folklore among nation.

Those who compare Vagif-poet and Vagif-playwright, distinguish between them: Why sadness in his poems and external optimism in his plays constitute contradiction? Vagif answered the question in the following way: “ There is no contradiction. All my creation is one single poem”.

Vagif  Samadoghlu create fundamental literary tradition based on national artistic thinking, global worldwide and human worldview. Philosophical depth of his works allows the coming generations to focus on this as a valuable resource.

In the late 80s, Vagif  Samadoghlu became one of the active leaders of the Freedom Movement in Azerbaijan. It did not surprise the people who knew him. Since Vagif Samadoghlu was among the first group of people who demolished pillars of totalitarian consciousness and gained the independence in his inner struggle. He certainly expressed the spirit of our nation that had been among the political and social disasters. He declared about its solitude in the world and used the concept “National Solitude”.

                                                   Haraya hay verməyib,
                                                   Dünya keçir kar kimi.
                                                   Bir kor dəyir divara
                                                   Bizim dualar kimi...
Vagif Samadoglu Life

Humanity, wisdom, determination are the main qualities that determine Vagif  Samadoghlu’s personality. Being thinking globally, the master had discreet and perfect view on the public events and processes. He had always stated his personal position. Being the member to National Assembly he never lost these qualities. He represented Azerbaijan with distinction at the events of  European and international organizations. He was distinguished for his position on the discussion on socio-political issues. His companions were always fascinated by sly humor, high intellectual level and simplicity of this modest and humble man. Thanks  to these qualities he gained respect and love of the foreign deputies.

In 1999, Vagif  Samadoghlu was awarded the title People’s poet and the Order “Shokhrat” (2004), “Sharaf” and “Istiglal” (2014). Merciless illness took the outstanding master’s life on January 28, 2015. He was buried in Alley of Honor. Exposition created in the Samad Vurgun  House-museum dedicated to life and creativity of  Vagif  Samadoghlu.

Vagif  Samadoghlu spouse is a Doctor of  Philosophy, Nushaba Babayeva-Vekilova, who is director of Samad Vurgun House-museum. Daughters are Vekilova Nigar, Vekilova Mahbub and Vekilova Mirvari.