Vasyl Barka

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Vasyl Barka (pseud. of Vasyl Ocheret, born 16 July 1908 in the village of Solonytsia near Lubny, Poltava Governorate, died 11 April 2003 in Liberty, New York) was an American residing Ukrainian poet, writer, literary critic, and translator.


Vasyl Barka's family had a Cossack origin. In 1927 Vasyl graduated from Lubensky Pedagogical College, then worked as a teacher in a mining village in Donbass. There he did not get along with the local authorities, and went to the North Caucasus. In 1928 he entered the Philology faculty of Krasnodar Pedagogical Institute, worked at Krasnodar Art Museum. Supported by Pavlo Tychyna Barka first appeared in press in 1929. The publication of his first book of poems (1930) caused lots of ideological criticism, accusations of "bourgeois nationalism" and "religious carry-overs". Vasyl exchanged from Krasnodar Institute into the postgraduate school of the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, wrote his thesis on the realistic and the fantastic in the Divine Comedy by Dante, and presented the thesis in 1940. He has lectured at the Philology faculty at Rostov University.
In 1941, after Great Patriotic War outbroke, Vasyl Barka volunteered, in 1942 he was badly injured, was caught in occupation. After recovery, he worked as a proofreader in a newspaper. In 1943 he was sent to Germany.[1] Since then, he lived in Germany, where he was active in the MUR literary association. In 1947 he moved to France, then, in 1950 to the United States. There he worked at radio Liberty. Sometimes he was starving, and had to take any job - he used to work as fireman, window cleaner etc.


Vasyl Barka was close to the New York group of Ukrainian poets. Barka's orphic works require intuitive rather than logical comprehension. His poetry developed and grew in stature, from the early lyrical collections to the monumental 4,000-strophe epic novel in verse "Svidok dlia sontsia shestykrylykh" (The Witness for the Sun of Seraphims, 1981), addressed to the theme of reconciliation between 'man and the Creator.' His first novel, "Rai" (Paradise, 1953), deals with the Soviet 'paradise.' His second novel, "Zhovtyi kniaz'" (The Yellow Prince, 1962, 1968), about the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932–33, was translated into French (Paris 1981) and served as the basis for Oles Yanchuk's 1993 Ukrainian feature film Holod-33 (Famine-33).

List of works:

  • Pathways (1930, poetry)
  • Workshops (1932, poetry)
  • Apostles (1946, poetry)
  • God's Earth (1947, poetry)
  • Paradise (1953, novel)
  • The lark's springs (1956, essays)
  • The rose novel (1957, poetry)
  • Psalm of the dove field (1958, poetry)
  • Ocean (1959, poetry)
  • True Poet (1961, essay on the works of Taras Shevchenko)
  • Yellow Prince (1963, novel about the Holodomor in Ukraine, published in 1991)
  • Sky rider (1965, religious and philosophical essays)
  • Lіryst (1968, poetry)
  • Creativity (1968, essays)
  • Judgment Step (1992, poem)
  • Caucasus (1993, a dramatic poem)



The novel Yellow Prince was twice nominated to Nobel Prize;[2] it is published in Ukraine in the School Library series, it is studied in schools. The novel was later filmed under the name Golod-33 (eng. Famine-33), (director Oles Yanchuk, 1991).[3] In Ukrainian National Opera the director Andriy Zholdak put a play Lenin love, Stalin love (2008). 1981 Vasyl Barka was awarded the Antonovych prize.

External links