(pseudonym of Konstantin Mikhailovich Mitskevich). Born Oct. 22 (Nov. 3), 1882, on the khutor (privately owned homestead) of Akinchitsy, in present-day Minsk Oblast; died Aug. 13, 1956, in Minsk. Soviet Byelorussian writer and public figure. One of the founders of Soviet Byelorussian literature. People’s Poet of Byelorussia (1926). Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR (1928). First vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR (1929–56). Member of the CPSU from 1945. Son of a forest guard.
Kolas graduated from the Nesvizh Teachers’ Seminary and worked as a teacher in the vicinity of Pinsk. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment (1908–11) for participating in an illegal teachers’ congress in 1906. In 1915 he was drafted into the army.
Kolas’ works were first printed in 1906. He published the collection of poems Songs of Sorrow (1910) and the collections Short Stories (1912) and Native Images (1914). Kolas’ poetry and prose deal mainly with the life of working peasants.
Kolas’ talent flourished during the Soviet period. For example, he published the collection of poems The Echo (1922), the collection of allegorical short stories Fairy Tales of Life (1921), the novella In Life’s Expanses (1926), the narrative poem New Plot of Land (1911–23), and the romantic narrative poem Symon, the Musician (1917–25). Using autobiographical material, he wrote the trilogy At the Crossroads (In the Backwoods of Poles’e, 1923; In the Heart of Poles’e, 1927; At the Crossroads, 1954), which describes the complex ideological search of the progressive Byelorussian intelligentsia at the beginning of the 20th century. The novella The Quagmire (1934) describes the courageous struggle of the Byelorussian people during the Civil War (1918–20). Kolas was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1946 and 1949 for his series of patriotic poems from the period of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) and the narrative poem The Fisherman’s Hut (1947).
Kolas’ works are notable for being true to life, for their rich language, and for their closeness to the traditions of Russian classical literature and Byelorussian folklore. His books have been translated into many of the languages of the peoples of the USSR and many foreign languages. He was a deputy to the second and third convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Kolas was awarded five Orders of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.
WORKSZbor tvorau, vols. 1–12. Minsk, 1961–64.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1951–52.
Izbr. soch., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1956.
REFERENCESPshirkov, Iu. Iakub Kolas. Minsk, 1952.
Fihlouskaia, L. Tvorchasts’Iakuba Kolasa. Minsk, 1959.
Mozol’kov, E. Iakub Kolas, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1960.
Navumenka, I. Iakub Kolas: Dukhouny voblik heroia. Minsk, 1968.
Maikhrovich, A. Esteticheskie vzgliady Iakuba Kolasa. Minsk, 1970.
V. M. KAZBERUK