Anna Alexandrovna Barkova (July 16, 1901 – April 29, 1976) was a Soviet poet, journalist, playwright, essayist, memoirist, and writer of fiction. She was imprisoned for more than 20 years in the Gulag.

Early life

Anna was born into the family of a private school janitor in the textile town of Ivanovo in 1901. She was allowed to attend the school because of her father's position, a rare opportunity for a young working class girl in pre-revolutionary Russia.

In 1918 she enrolled as a member of the Circle of Genuine Proletarian Poets, a writers group based in Ivanovo. Soon after joining she began to write short pieces for the group's paper The Land of the Workers. She also published poetry in the paper under the pseudonym Kalika perekhozhaia ("the wandering cripple"), a name given to blind or maimed singers who went from village to village singing devotional ballads to obtain alms.

Literary work

Anna's early poetry attracted the attention of the Bolshevik literary establishment, including the leading critic Aleksandr Voronsky and the Commisar of Enlightenment Anatoly Lunacharsky. Lunacharsky became her patron, and in 1922 she moved to Moscow to act as his secretary. Also in 1922 her first poetry collection Woman was published with a forward by Lunacharsky. In 1923 her play Nastasya Bonfire was published.

She also attended the writer's school in Moscow directed by Valery Bryusov, and wrote for his paper Print and Revolution. Later, Maria Ulyanova, the sister of Vladimir Lenin, found Anna a position at the paper Pravda, and helped her to put together a second collection of poems that was never published.

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