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Olena Duts'-Faifer / Helena Duc-Fajfer ( -)

Olena Duts'-Faifer / Helena Duc-Fajfer ( -) was born in 1960 to a family that was deported during the Vistula Operation. The family returned to the Lemko Region in 1961 and Duts'-Faifer grew up and received her elementary education there. At Jagiellonian University in Krakow she earned advanced degrees in Slavic philology, psychology, and art history, and a Ph. D. in East Slavic literature. Her revised doctoral thesis (2001) is a history of Lemko-Rusyn literature: Literatura lemkowska w drugiej polowie XIX in a poczatku XX wieku (Lemko Literature in the Second Half of the Nineteenth and the Beginning of the Twentieth Centuries).

Duts'-Faifer teaches language, literature, and ethnography in the program in Lemko-Rusyn studies at the Advanced School of Education in Krakow. In addition, she has been a leading figure in the Lemko national revival.

She is author of two bilingual Rusyn and Polish collections of poetry: W modlitewnym blunierstwie (In Prayerful Blasphemy 1985) and Po obu stronach sowa / Po obokh stranakh dumky (On Both Sides of the Word 2008). She also compiled and edited an anthology of Lemko literature: Tsy to lem tuha, tsy nadiia (Is It Only Yearning or Is It Hope).

Her book On Both Sides of the Word is a phenomenon in contemporary Rusyn literature. The reader is struck first by the overall plan of the book. Photographs by Krzysztof Kornel Balawender serve to complement and accentuate Duts'-Faifer's poems. In profoundly and thoughtful poetic images and contemporary turns of phrase, the poet celebrates her cultural legacy along with her hope for the future. As she writes in her introduction, entitled "Restoring the Cracks in the Icon," "I am the youngest of the poetic generation that was consolidated around the emotional principle of Pain. My poetic generation is not only a generation of pain, but also a generation that is building a new House." In her poems one feels pain, but also the joy and strength of a new generation of Rusyn poetry.

My world
is not somebody else's word
it is a piece of space
in the absolute
a prayer
for departed souls
who still molder in the earth
a green light
to future centuries
rooted
in the archetypical
image of life
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Augury

On my palm three candles
the evening poured
blackness into the flame
I was telling fortunes
onto the stony path
rolled
every
Lemko word
I set off


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Autobiography

Schizophrenia
or only me split in two
mine
yours
Whose names
are written in us
where is my land
and where is the one that gave birth to me
how many generations will pass
below me
above me
grasses dry out

is it only yearning
or is it hope
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