Pavlo Tychyna

Pavlo Tychyna (1891-1967) is acclaimed as one of the leading Ukrainian poets of the twentieth century. He was born in the village of Pisky in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine. He graduated from the Chernihiv Theological Seminary in 1913 and first began to publish his poetry in Ukrainian literary journals in 1912. He worked at various newspapers in Kyiv while he was enrolled at the Kyiv Commercial Institute. His first published collection Clarinets of the Sun (1918) firmly established his reputation as a new and exciting poetic voice. His subsequent early collections Instead of Sonnets and Octaves (1920), The Plow (1920), In the Orchestra of the Cosmos (1921), and Wind from Ukraine (1924) all served to document the turbulent times and aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War in Ukraine as well as the implementation of Soviet control.

Tychyna moved to Kharkiv in 1923, which at that time was a hotbed of Ukrainian literary activity. There he participated in the activities of the literary groups Hart and Vaplite (Free Academy of Proletarian Literature) with the leading Ukrainian literati of his time. He was heavily rebuked publicly for his poem “Mother Was Pealing Potatoes” (published in a Vaplite collection in 1926) and under severe pressure to conform to the Soviet regime, to which he acquiesced by writing poetry in the proscribed vein of Socialist Realism in his collections Chernihiv (1931), The Party Leads (1934), and in all of his subsequent collections. In conforming, he managed to survive the infamous Executed Renaissance of Ukrainian culture under Stalinist repression, which ended up in killing or imprisoning several hundred of the best and the brightest of Ukrainian writers and cultural activists in the purges, many of them his close friends such as Mykola Khvylovy, who committed suicide before immanent arrest.

Tychyna was rewarded with a Stalin Prize for literature in 1941 for his poetry in support of the state and when nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature forced to reject the nomination. During World War II Tychyna focused on poetry of statement with patriotic fervor in defense of his native Ukraine from the advancing Nazi army. The apogee of his wartime poetry was the great lyrical long poem “Funeral of My Friend” (1942). Tychyna became entrenched in the Soviet bureaucracy in the Ukrainian SSR with positions in the Academy of Sciences, the Supreme Soviet, the Institute of Literature, and the Ministry of Education. The free, independent, brilliant poetry of Tychyna in his early period starkly contrasts with his poetry written in service to the Soviet regime from the 1930s until his death in Kyiv in 1967.

Pavlo Tychyna: The Complete Early Poetry Collections

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Pavlo Tychyna: The Complete Early Poetry Collections
Catalogus 2019

Catalogue 2019