He was born as Ipatiy Stepanovich Stepanov (Russian: Ипатий Степанович Степанов) in the village of Toimetsola in the Mari El. He attended a school in the village of Aryn, of which the Mari national poet Sergei Chavain was the headmaster at the time. He studied at a pedagogical college in Yoshkar-Ola, and later studied cinematography in Moscow; however, he chose to pursue poetry instead. He also translated many works of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay Nekrasov, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Eduard Bagritsky from Russian to Mari. Like many of the Mari intelligentsia at the time, he was executed during the Great Purge.