Drach, Ivan [Drač], b 17 October 1936 in Telizhyntsi, Kyiv oblast. (Photo: Ivan Drach.) Poet, screenwriter, and political leader. Drach studied at Kyiv University (1958–61) and completed advanced scriptwriting courses in Moscow in 1964. He worked for a few years in the script department of the Kyiv Artistic Film Studio and on the editorial staff of Literaturna Ukraïna and Vitchyzna. His works have appeared in print since 1959. He has published the following collections of poetry: Soniashnyk (The Sunflower, 1962), Protuberantsi sertsia (Protuberances of the Heart, 1965), Poeziï (Poems, 1967), Balady budniv (Everyday Ballads, 1967), Do dzherel (To the Sources, 1972), Korin’ i krona (The Root and the Crown, 1974), Kyïvs’ke nebo (The Kyivan Sky, 1976), Duma pro vchytelia (Duma about the Teacher, 1977), Soniashnyi feniks (The Solar Phoenix, 1978), Sontse i slovo (The Sun and the Word, 1979), Amerykans’kyi zoshyt (American Notebook, 1980), Shablia i khustyna (The Saber and the Kerchief, 1981), Dramatychni poemy (Dramatic Poems, 1982), Kyïvs’kyi oberih (A Kyivan Amulet, 1983), Telizhentsi (1985), Khram sontsia (A Temple of the Sun, 1988), Lyst do kalyny (A Letter to a Viburnum Tree, 1990), and Vohon’ iz popelu (Fire from the Ashes, 1995). He has also written several scripts that have been used for films, including Krynytsia dlia sprahlykh (A Well for the Thirsty, 1967), Kaminnyi khrest (The Stone Cross), based on a short story by Vasyl Stefanyk, and Idu do tebe (I Am Coming to You) about the life of Lesia Ukrainka. Drach is also a recognized literary critic. Drach stood at the forefront of the Ukrainian literary revival initiated by the shistdesiatnyky (the ‘Sixtiers’). His poetry is noted for its originality, fresh imagery, complex metaphors, philosophical meditation, neologisms, and varied rhythm. Drach was criticized sharply for his departure from the canons of socialist realism, especially in the poem ‘Nizh u sontsi’ (Knife in the Sun, 1961), and for the satirical poem ‘Oda chesnomu boiahuzevi’ (Ode to an Honest Coward, 1963). He compromised with the regime in the late 1960s, and this proved detrimental to the quality of his later work. In the 1970s and 1980s he traveled abroad as an official Soviet cultural emissary.
In the late 1980s Drach emerged as a prominent political activist in Ukraine. As head of the Kyiv organization of the Writers' Union of Ukraine he was instrumental in forging the coalition that created the Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh). He then headed Rukh: solely from 1989 to 1992 and then jointly in 1992. He was elected as a People's Deputy in 1990 and again in 1998 and 2002 and became the head of the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council at its founding convention in 1992.
Kostenko, Lina [Костенко, Ліна], b 19 March 1930 in Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv oblast. (Photo: Lina Kostenko.) Poet; one of the earliest and most outstanding of the shistdesiatnyky, the Soviet Ukrainian writers of the post-Stalinist thaw. She studied at the Kyiv Pedagogical Institute and graduated from the Gorky Institute of Literature in Moscow in 1956. Her first poems were published in the early 1950s. She is the author of the collections Prominnia zemli (Rays of the Earth, 1957), Vitryla (Sails, 1958), and Mandrivky sertsia (Wanderings of the Heart, 1961). The collection ‘Zorianyi integral’ (The Stellar Integral) was ready for publication in 1962, but the censors judged it ideologically harmful and a departure from socialist realism and suppressed it. Twelve of the poems from the collection appeared in the anthology of Ukrainian samvydav Shyroke more Ukraïny (The Wide Sea of Ukraine, Paris–Baltimore 1972), and a volume encompassing her work to date was published in the West in 1969 as Poeziï (Poems). In 1965 and 1968 Kostenko signed several open letters protesting the arrests and secret trials of Ukrainian intellectuals. Her poetry was not published in Ukraine again until 1977, when her collection Nad berehamy vichnoï riky (On the Banks of the Eternal River) appeared. A novel in verse, Marusia Churai (1979) and the collection Nepovtornist’ (Uniqueness, 1980) followed and earned its author the Shevchenko Prize in 1987. In 1987 Kostenko published her next collection Sad netanuchykh skul’ptur (Garden of Unthawed Sculptures) and a book of poems for children Buzynovyi tsar (The King of the Lilacs). Her historical novel in verse Berestechko, originally composed in 1966, appeared in book form only in 1999.
Kostenko's poetry consists primarily of intimate, lyric poems and ‘social’ poems on the role and responsibility of a poet, particularly in a totalitarian society. Employing diverse rhythms, sophisticated language, a colloquial and aphoristic manner of writing, and a subtle emotivity, ranging from playful irony and humor to scathing satire, she is acknowledged as one of the better contemporary Ukrainian poets. Marusia Churai and Berestechko are quite unique in Ukrainian literature. In the former Kostenko depicts the tragic fate of a semilegendary figure in Ukrainian history against the background of the Cossack-Polish War, while the latter deals with the fateful Battle of Berestechko from the same historical period.
Zabuzhko, Oksana, b 19 September 1960 in Lutsk. (Photo: Oksana Zabuzhko.) Poet, writer, and literary critic. Zabuzhko graduated from the Department of Philosophy at Kyiv University in 1987. In 1992 and 1994 she traveled to the United States as a visiting writer and taught briefly at Penn State University, Harvard University, and the University of Pittsburgh. She works at the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Zabuzhko debuted as a poet with a collection Travnevyi inii (May Frost) in 1985 and was soon recognized as an important new voice of the generation of poets later referred to as visimdesiatnyky (Eightiers). Her later books of poetry include Dyryhent ostannioi svichky (A Conductor of the Last Candle, 1990), Avtostop (Hitchhiking, 1994), and Novyi zakon Arkhimeda (Archemides’s New Law, 2000); her selected poems were published in the book Druha sproba (Second Attempt) in 2005. She has also translated some verses by Sylvia Plath, Marie Howe, Lucie Brock-Broido, Sue Standing, and Czesław Miłosz into Ukrainian. Zabuzhko became particularly popular as the author of prose works explicitly addressing the themes of sexuality and women’s issues in the Ukrainian society, often presented from the feminist point of view. Her novel Poliovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns’koho seksu (Field Work in Ukrainian Sex, 1996) brought her popular acclaim. Her other prose works include Kazka pro kalynovu sopilku (A Fairy Tale about a Viburnum Flute, 2000) and Sestro, sestro (Sister, Sister, 2003). Zabuzhko has also made a notable contribution to the Ukrainian literary and cultural scholarship. Her non-fiction books include her studies of Ivan Franko (Filosofiia ukraïns’koi idei ta ievropeis’kyi kontekst: Frankivs’kyi period [The Philosophy of the Ukrainian National Idea and the European Context: Franko Period, 1992]), Taras Shevchenko (Shevchenkiv mif Ukraïny [Shevchenko’s Myth of Ukraine, 1997]), and Lesia Ukrainka (Notre Dame d’Ukraine: Ukraïnka v konflikti mifolohii (Notre Dame d’Ukraine: Ukrainka in the Conflict of Mythologies, 2007]), as well as books of essays Khroniky vid Fortinbrasa (The Fortinbras Chronicles, 1999) and Let my people go. 15 tekstiv pro ukraïns’ku revoliutsiiu (Let My People Go: Fifteen Texts about the Ukrainian Revolution, 2005). Zabuzhko’s works have been translated into several languages. The English edition of her poems and essays appeared in Toronto as A Kingdom of Fallen Statues in 1996 and an English translation of her story Divchatka was published as a separate book edition Girls in 2005.