Mukhtar Shakhanov is an outstanding Qazaq poet, whose works have been translated into more than 30 languages of the world.
He was born on July 2, 1942 in the village of Chilik, Otrar district, South Qazaqstan region. At the age of 9, his father died and he needed to earn for living. At the beginning of his career, he worked as a tractor driver. Among his latest positions is the title of an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Qazaqstan to the Kyrgyz Republic. He is an alumni of Chimkent State Pedagogical Institute.
Mukhtar Shakhanov made a significant contribution to world literature. He is a national writer of the Republic of Qazaqstan, a national poet of the Kyrgyz Republic, an academician of the International California Academy of Industry, Education and Arts (USA), a member and an honorary professor of several local and foreign academies and universities, a laureate of the United Nations Environment Program. He is awarded international prizes of the Turkish Republic “For merits in the Turkic world”, “Rukhaniyat” of the Kyrgyz Republic and others.
Mukhtar Shakhanov was elected as a people's deputy of the USSR and Qazaqstan, as well as a member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He is one of those who were at the forefront of the Qazaq democracy movement. The peaceful demonstration of youth in Almaty in December 1986 was the first open protest against the totalitarian regime. This democratic movement, that later pushed awakening of the self-consciousness of the masses in all the republics of the Soviet Union, was ruthlessly suppressed, and its participants without trial were imprisoned. Talking and writing about the December events in Almaty was strictly forbidden. Despite the threat to his personal life, Mukhtar Shakhanov defended the Qazaq youth. In spite of all obstacles, the commission headed by him revealed and irrefutably proved the facts of human rights violations and the brutal arbitrariness of the authorities. As a consequence, the former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev in his speech on Qazaq national television acknowledged, that the violent suppression of demonstrations and arrests of people were his personal mistake and the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
With the active assistance of Mukhtar Shakhanov, the traditional holiday “Nauryz” was revived in Qazaqstan after a 62-year break. Other Central Asian followed Qazaqstani example in reviving this tradition.
Mukhtar Shakhanov, believing that service to the people and the Motherland should come from the heart and be deprived of prudent interest, refused to receive state awards of his country.
He is the author of a lot of poetry books. In collaboration with Chingiz Aitmatov, he wrote an essay-book “The plight of a postmodern hunter” and the play “A Night of Memories of Socrates or a Judgment over the Dim-witted”. The play was successfully performed on stages of various theaters. Mukhtar Shakhanov’s poem “Delusion of civilization” (Saga on epoch’s morals), which F. Hitzer called “a ball lightning for Europe”, was translated into many languages and in a short time gained worldwide fame.
UNESCO, having commended this work as raising global problems at the crossroads of two millennia, on the basis of its special decision in March 1999 conducted a special presentation of the poem in its headquarters in Paris. Separate sections of the poem were read by the author as a report at the International Issyk-Kul Forum (1997), Chisinau (1998), Moscow (1999) UNESCO forums.
In the poem, Mukhtar Shakhanov reflects on what happened to a humanbeing, why he lost his individuality, changed his moral values, became more materialistic.
The verse novel turned out a diagnosis of the moral disaster of a humanbeing of the twentieth century. Writer Chingiz Aitmatov said that the voice of Earth sounds in this work, calling for the protection of the human soul. According to the great writer, Mukhtar Shakhanov’s poem laid the groundwork for a new kind of art, called a “genre of spiritual ecology”.
Another interesting verse novel by Mukhtar Shakhanov is called “Cosmoformula of Punishing Memory”. The novel is dedicated to the great conqueror Genghis Khan. The author masterfully portrays a tyrant and deepens into his psychology. He shows the moral catastrophe of him and people around him that appeared as a result of his conquests.
Mukhtar Shakhanov stresses that violence, the main weapon of the despot, is becoming a weapon of self-destruction. Evil and lust for power lead to the spiritual collapse of a humanbeing. He strongly believes, that only goodness and mercy are the basis of our existence on the Earth. The novel has generated great interest in literary circles of the country and abroad. According to prominent writers, scholars and public figures, the novel “Cosmoformula of Punishing Memory” is one of the most significant works of our time. The drama “Mystery of Genghis Khan”, which is part of the novel, immediately interested theaters of different countries, and on its basis, the Dovzhenko Film Studio (Ukraine) created a two-part television feature film.
For the novel “Cosmoformula of Punishing Memory” in 2003, the poet received an American award - the Einstein gold medal. In 2000, Mukhtar Shakhanov was recognized as the most widely read poet of the decade.
In the poem “A tragedy in Narynkum” Mukhtar Shakhanov gives a definition for a poet's mission. By an image of a Qazaq hero, a poet of the 19th century Makhambet Utemisuly, the author tells about the tragic and noble mission of the writer. His mission is to serve honestly and selflessly his fellow citizens, to be the spokesman of their thoughts and aspirations, to fulfill functions of their protector and mentor. The main task of the poet is to reveal the truth, inspire people to believe in a happy life and encourage them to fight for ideals.
The characters of Mukhtar Shakhanov are romantics, ready to sacrifice themselves in order to make the dream come true, to give freedom to the people.
The poetry of Mukhtar Shakhanov with its truthfulness, in-depth reflection of actual problems of the society became an integral part of the spiritual culture of the Qazaq people. Works of the poet are studied at secondary schools and universities, read by heart by numerous admirers of his talent.