Only a handful of prominent émigré Ukrainian poet-scholar Bohdan Rubchak’s poems have appeared in English translation prior to the publication of this volume. Rubchak died in 2018 at the age of 83 after publishing six collections of poetry, the last for which he received the prestigious Pavlo Tychyna Prize in Ukraine in 1993. Rubchak was part of the extremely talented displaced generation that escaped from the traumatic experiences of World War II to find a new life and creative inspiration in a new land. As an integral part of the New York Group of Ukrainian poets, his complex, at times seemingly cryptic poetry, makes the translator’s task imposing.
His poems are filled with meaning on multiple levels – semantic, syntactic, auditory, symbolic, and allusive. The volume, co-translated by Michael M. Naydan and Svitlana Budzhak-Jones, includes selections from all six of Rubchak’s published collections of poetry: The Stone Garden (1956), The Radiant Betrayal (1960), The Girl without a Country (1963), A Personal Clio (1967), Drowning Marena that appeared as part of The Wing of Icarus (1983) selected works volume, and the expanded selected works edition The Wing of Icarus (1991), which was the poet’s only collection of poetry published in Ukraine.
The book also contains an intimate and revealing biographical essay based on the poet’s unpublished diaries by his wife of over fifty years Marian J. Rubchak, illuminating essays on his poetry by Svitlana Budzhak-Jones and Mykola Riabchuk, and a brief biographical essay and timeline by Michael M. Naydan, the editor of the volume.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“Approaching the language of his poetry from the standpoint of another language clearly brought gifts to this poet, as it has to others. For one thing, the distancing effect perhaps made him more aware of the sounds of words, and enabled him to produce poems of great musicality which the translators have striven to reproduce, often with considerable success.” Kate Pursglove, East-West Review
“Out of the brutality and ruin of a world war rose the singular sensibility that is Bohdan Rubchak, born to salute the poplar’s lofty calling while knowing full well that infinitely tender things will wither in the wind unless soul clap its hands and sing and with its spell of language resurrect what once was lost. Rubchak reminds me of those mythical Chinese poets swooning over the moon’s reflection in the water: sure, they drowned, but oh the ecstasy of the embrace!” novelist, poet, and founding editor of AGNI magazine Askold Melnyczuk
“Bohdan Rubchak has woven a beautiful tapestry of despair, sadness, irony, and love in his poetry. A great poet.” leading Ukrainian poet and prose writer Yuri Andrukhovych
“Bohdan Rubchak’s creativity is primarily associated as a unique phenomenon of Ukrainian literature with the New York Group, a real rebellion led by young intellectuals who desired aesthetic change. Simultaneously, each member of this group possessed a genuine poetic voice. Rubchak particularly succeeded in merging European modernism with the melodies of the Ukrainian language with such authenticity, that, as a result, we witness a brilliant process of the creation of an individual style, in which compelling poetic language is balanced between the poet’s biography and history and between literacy and emotional vulnerability. Rubchak’s metaphor of the stone, which symbolizes the objectivity of this world and a silent secrecy, becomes the poet’s poetic trademark, along with the search for his Personal Clio and the fitting of The Wing of Icarus.” émigré poet and prose writer Vasyl Makhno