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The book also contains an intimate and revealing biographical essay based on the poet’s unpublished diaries by his wife of over fifty years Marian J. Rubchak, illuminating essays on his poetry by Svitlana Budzhak-Jones and Mykola Riabchuk, and a brief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
“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
“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’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
Svitlana Budzhak-Jones is a freelance translator and interpreter of Ukrainian, Russian and English. She is a contract conference interpreter for the U.S. Department of State. She grew up in a small Carpathian town in Western Ukraine, earned her Graduate degree in translation and TESL from Chernivtsi State University in Bukovyna, Ukraine, and her Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics of Language Contact from the University of Ottawa, Canada. Svitlana taught English, Ukrainian, and Russian to non-native speakers in Ukraine and in the United States. She did extensive research and published numerous articles in bilingualism and quantitative linguistics. She resides in State College, Pennsylvania, USA.
Michael Naydan is Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and works primarily in the fields of Ukrainian and Russian literature and literary translation. He received his BA and MA degrees from The American University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has published over 50 articles on literary topics and more than 80 translations in journals and anthologies. Of his more than 40 books of published and edited translations, some of his most recent include the novels Sweet Darusya: A Tale of Two Villages and Tango of Death (both with Spuyten Duyvil Publishers, 2019), Nikolai Gumilev’s Africa (Glagoslav Publishers, 2018); Yuri Andrukhovych’s cultural and literary essays, My Final Territory: Selected Essays (University of Toronto Press, 2018); and Abram Terz’s literary essays, Strolls with Pushkin and Journey to the River Black (Columbia University Press, 2016). In 2017 he published his literary essays in Ukrainian translation in the volume, From Gogol to Andrukhovych: Selected Literary Essays (Piramida Publishers). He has also published a novel about the city of Lviv Seven Signs of the Lion (Glagoslav Publishers, 2016), which appeared in 2017 in Marianna Prokopovych’s Ukrainian translation under the title Sim znakiv leva (Piramida Publishers). He has received numerous prizes for his translations including the George S.N. Luckyj Award in Ukrainian Literature Translation from the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies in 2013. He has also served a term as editor-in-chief of Slavic and East European Journal (1993-1999) and currently serves on the editorial boards of Slavic and East European Journal, Comparative Literature Studies, Style and Translation, and The Ukrainian Quarterly.