A photo story about the Tyumen writer Alexander Shestakov, who after his retirement began to produce one book for children a year.
«My dear friend, you can’t live without a smile»
My famous fellow-countryman, teacher, journalist, children's poet Alexander Evstenevich Shestakov met me in his apartment-museum in a quiet Tyumen street with these words. «And I always smile, even when it's hard. This is my life motto».
Such a kindhearted person
By Alexander Evgenievich’s immense charm you forget you are not at home almost after 5 minutes of your visit. Poet and artist, at that moment he was composing and drawing at the same time. This was the way we moved around the apartment: he was holding a pencil in his hands, muttering and making notes, sometimes even sketching his future illustrations: I was with the camera in my hands all the time, following the genius – from the work-room to the veranda (that August sun gave poet even more creative energy). «Maybe, worth it to put a shirt with a tie on?» poet asked, interrupting his own thoughts. And then he answered himself: «Oh, what a conventionality». It’s hard to say he is 85 years old, as bright as a button. Such a kind-hearted person.
It’s all about warmth of his soul in everything: in a friendly cartoon on the front doors, depicting a poet with a pencil and a brush; in a statuette of a poet given him by a Tyumen sculptor; in his freckled verses and, of course, in his own illustrations.
«The sound of typewriter keys helps me, as if I am returning to my youth, to my editorial past. Cause my story as an artist began from the local newspaper»
And this is how the story began. Once the editor of one of the Tuymen’s newspapers suggested Shestakov, who was a poet, to make illustrations to his poems. «Well, I’m not sure, that I can,» the poet said. – But I can try if there is a need». He took an unpaid leave and began to study. A month later he brought illustrations to the poems. The editor refused to accept them, he said: «Make them colour». Alexander Evgenievich would like to take offence: nevertheless, he took an unpaid leave again and redo his work. But one month later his illustrations were not accepted again. So Shestakov fell silent as a creator – not a line, no drawings. But after being retired, he remembered poems and drawings so beloved by his own children. He picked up pen and brush again. Since then he works.
«Look what do they draw for children now. These arts can't amuse; they can even scare children. And children should live happily». They call me a successor of the traditions of Detgiz of 1930s, and I don’t mind. «Freckled» illustrations should be funny. You know, what is the main principle of both the writer and the artist? «Don't do harm», the same as for a doctor, do you remember?»
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