Born on 8 March, 1938 in Pavlovsky Posad. In 1962 he graduated from the Philology Department of the Pedagogical Academy in Moscow. In various periods he worked in the poetry section of the “Yunost” and “Novy Mir” monthlies.
Chukhontsev published his first poems in 1958. His debut volume, Intent, was not accepted for print in 1960. Nor could his next work, Name, be published. In 1968, after publication in the “Yunost’” monthly of a poem dedicated to Father Kurbski, an opponent of Ivan the Terrible and a historical patron of resistance against despotism in Russia, Chukhontsev’s work was put on the censorship lists, and he himself fell victim to persecution. He was only permitted to publish his numerous and outstanding translations of classical and contemporary European and American poetry, as well as the poetry of the nations of the Soviet Union.
His first volume of poetry, bearing the symptomatic title From Three Notebooks was passed by the censors in altered form in 1976. His following work, Skylight, came seven years later. Only the third book, By Wind and Ash (1989), was free of the censors’ interference. After that he published: Running Landscape (1997) Fifia (2003), a volume of collected works called From This World (2005), and Namesake (2008).
“Perhaps Chukhontsev’s greatest contribution to Russian poetry has been to introduce an entirely private man of the Soviet epoch to the sublime world of philosophical passions,” Bakhyt Kyenzhyev has written. “Chukhontsev’s best poems view the everyday (in other words – life) with a kind of infrared whose rays reveal fragments of cold, warmth, heat (…) This is perhaps why, his melancholy temperament notwithstanding, Chukhontsev’s poems are second only to Tzvyetayev’s (a bitter choleric) for their quantity of exclamation points.”
Chukhontsev has won many literary awards, including the State Award of the Russian Federation (1993), the German Pushkin Award of the Alfred Töpfer Foundation (1999), the Russian State Pushkin Award (2003), the “Anthology” poetry award of the “Novy Mir” monthly (2003–2004), the first non-state award for artistic achievement in modern-day Russia – the “Triumph” (2005), the Boris Pasternak Literary Award (2005), and the “Poet” Russian National Award (2007).
He lives in Moscow.