There’s a fascinating read up at The New England Review: Frida Abramovna Vigdorova’s transcript of the 1964 trial of Joseph Brodsky, translated by Michael R. Katz. It ends with the judge pronouncing this sentence on the future Nobel laureate: “Brodsky will be sent to remote locations for a period of five years of forced labor.” And the guards, passing the defense counsel, sneer, “So? You lost the case, comrade lawyer!”
I found this particularly telling as an example of the clash between the state and the individual writer:
JUDGE: How long did you work at the factory?
BRODSKY: A year.
JUDGE: As what?
BRODSKY: A milling-machine operator.
JUDGE: And, in general, what is your specific occupation?
BRODSKY: Poet. Poet-translator.
JUDGE: And who said you’re a poet? Who ranked you among poets
BRODSKY: No one. (Unsolicited) Who ranked me as a member of the human race?
JUDGE: Did you study for this?
BRODSKY: Study for what?
JUDGE: To become a poet. Did you attend some university where people are trained … where they’re taught…
BRODSKY: I didn’t think it was a matter of education.
JUDGE: How, then?
BRODSKY: I think that … (perplexed) it comes from God…
JUDGE: Do you have any petitions for the court?
BRODSKY: I’d like to know why I was arrested.
JUDGE: That’s a question, not a petition.
BRODSKY: Then I have no petitions.
Read the whole thing.