The original writer left a significant creative legacy to his descendants. His best works have entered the treasury of Belarusian literature.
Zmitrok (Dmitry Emelyanovich) Astapenko was born on November 23 (10), 1910 in the village of Kolesniki of the Mstislavsky district of the Mogilev province (now the Khislavichsky district of the Smolensk region) in the family of a teacher (according to other sources, in the village of Sergeevka of the Roslavl district of the Smolensk province). Having decided to follow his father's path, the young man at the age of fifteen entered the Mstislavsk Pedagogical College. Here, having long dreamed of literature and poetry, he first began to write poetry. The lyrical talent of the young poet developed rapidly, brightly, and originally. His first works appeared in periodicals already in 1926. A circle of like-minded people (among them A. Kuleshov and Y. Taubin) formed in the educational institution, who created the literary group "Mscislautsy".
After graduating from technical school in 1929, Zmitrok Astapenko moved to Minsk, continued his studies at the literary department of the pedagogical institute (according to other sources, at BSU). He took an active part in literary life, was published in many newspapers and magazines ("Svitanne", "Belarusian Piyaner", "Iskra Ilycha", "Maladnyak", "Uzvysha", etc.). In 1931, collections of his poems were published: "On the Descent of the Sun" and "Kraine", the poem "Two Friends", in 1932 a new poetry collection "Aburanya" was published. The poet was a member of the literary association "Maladnyak", later the Belarusian Association of Proletarian Writers.
The translation activity of Astapenko deserves attention. He translated into Belarusian different novels.
Zmitrok Astapenko also wrote prose works, mainly short stories, and dabbled in the science fiction genre. He is the author of one of the first Belarusian science-fiction novels "Freeing the forces" about the work of scientists in the field of atomic fission. The first part of the novel was published in the magazine "Maladnyak" in 1932 (№№ 7, 8). Unfortunately, the novel remained unfinished: in 1933, Zmitrok Astapenko was arrested in the so-called case "Belarusian Narodnay Hramada" and received three years of imprisonment. After his release, he lived for some time in Moscow, worked as a teacher of the Russian language and literature. In 1936, the poet was arrested again and sentenced to eight years in prison. Subsequently, he was rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of the USSR: in the first case - in 1956, in the second - in 1954.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he was released or (according to other testimonies) he himself escaped from the prin. The warpage of Astapenko's creativity opens with the poem "On the white hill". During the war, he created the most significant works, the cycle of poems "Burned Villages" and the poem "Eden". In his works, the poet glorifies the height of the human spirit in severe trials, patriotism, courage and perseverance in the fight against the enemy. Today, critics put the poem "Eden" on a par with the best works of the war years.
In the fall of 1944, Zmitrok Astapenko, as part of a group of scouts appeared in Czechoslovakia. It is believed that he died in the Carpathians during one of the battles, although some publications give other versions.
The poet's works, as well as literature about him, can be found in the electronic catalogue of the library, biographical materials - in the online encyclopedia "Belarus in faces and events" and in the National Database of Authoritative / Regulatory Records, digital copies of lifetime publications - in the Internet resource "Belarusian literary heritage. Magazines 1919–1939".
Bibliology Research Department