|Like many of the other American poets who the Nobel Prize has honored, Brodsky was not born an American. (T. S. Eliot, an exception, was from St. Louis but had already immigrated to England by the time he was honored.) Brodsky was born in Leningrad during the Soviet days, and pinpoints his discovery of Dostoevsky's NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND as his ideological break with the Soviet regime. He was accused of "parasitism," and put on trial for being a drain on society as a poet and self-taught translator by profession, "a pseudo-poet in velveteen trousers" who did not fulfill his "constitutional duty to work honestly for the good of the motherland." Transcripts of his trial have since been made available, and underscore the absurdity of the charge. When Brodsky was asked to justify where his poetic talent came from, since he was not formally schooled in the art, having dropped out at 15 and subsequently become a laborer, stoker, and morgue attendant, his reply ("I think that it comes from God") was not popular with the court. He was sentenced to five years of hard labor at Kresty, the Soviet Union's most infamous prison. Brodsky was already a favorite poet of the underground by this time, and his work in samizdat publications had earned him the respect of many (and the ire of the Secret Police). Many famous artists including Dmitri Shostakovich and Anna Akhmatova rallied around his cause, and in 1965, after serving 18 months of his sentence, he was released. This same year a collection of his poems was published in the United States. A few years later, in 1972, Brodsky was forced into exile. W. H. Auden assisted him to initially immigrate to Vienna, and finally to the United States. Brodsky has remarked that his love of American poetry caused him to identify with the United States long before his residency there. In 1987 at the age of 47--the second youngest individual ever (after Camus) to win the award--he was honored with a Nobel Prize "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity." He was also included in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, but resigned in 1987 in protest at the honorary membership of the Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whom Brodsky knew as a Soviet yes-man. Brodsky was named United States Poet Laureate 1991-1992. He died of heart disease in 1996.