A USA Really Exclusive: Roger Thompson Shares His View on Freedom of Speech in the US
Roger Thompson, the grandson of Russian great poet and writer Vladimir Mayakovsky arrived in Moscow to honor the memory of his grandfather.
Thompson promised to fulfill his mother's wish to scatter her ashes over Mayakovsky's grave. The request could not be granted because of bureaucratic difficulties and formalities in the United States.
"Part of the ashes is kept in my son's apartment. Unfortunately, I failed to do her will. The procedure is complex, bureaucratic, according to the U.S rules. To take out the deceased's ashes from the United States, you are encouraged to get permission. I know this as a lawyer and defender. I didn't have time for that."
Thompson told a USA Really journalist about the life of the great Russian poet's family abroad and shared his opinion about freedom of speech in the United States.
Thompson was five when he first learned that his grandfather had not been married to Thompson's grandmother. His family didn't tell him who he was at all. They discussed Mayakovsky quietly, and Thompson often "tried to eavesdrop", he confessed. By the time he grew up, he had already found out his grandfather's real identity.
"It was just a part of my personality," Thompson said.
Mayakovsky visited the United States in the early 20th century, and wrote a book about his travels. We asked Thompson how the U.S authorities would react to the scandalous personality of his grandfather today, and Thompson said that these are two very different times.
"I think that it is very difficult to talk about it now. We live in different times. Perhaps, today Mayakovsky could be condemned for his behavior of that time; however, he wouldn't remain unnoticed as the great poet."
"My ancestor on my father's side was Roger Sherman, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He has been engaged in the writing of the Declaration of independence and the signing of the Constitution. I was named after him. I feel a strong connection to American history; but also with Russian history too; and with revolutions of both countries. I have ancestors on both sides, who were known revolutionaries and rebels," - he added.
As for freedom of speech, Thompson noted that Americans welcomed Mayakovsky's literature. There is a special event dedicated to Russian literature and art held every year in New York. Mayakovsky poems' are read at these meetings, and beloved.
U.S. authorities have tried to prevent the proceedings several times. They tried to obstruct the organizers from booking a location, and once the police even tried to disperse everyone, claiming that they were inconveniencing everyone else who doesn't care about Russian literature.
Thompson noted his father and the grandfather were both great people, and both of them fought for the restoration of human dignity and shared happiness, but they fought each in their own way. Mayakovsky's weapon, according to Thompson, was a poetry. He added that "poetic language is sometimes worse for the government than arms and machine guns."
"Culture affects politics certainly, politics affects culture. That's just part of living in a life and living in the world, where everything is interconnected. So, I think that's perfectly appropriate for everything to affect anything else.”