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Fedynyshynets’, Volodymyr

Volodymyr Fedynyshynets’, a prolific writer and member of the Writers’ Union of Ukraine since 1983, has also been a journalist, teacher, and cultural activist. He has worked in all literary genres, producing more than fifty books of Ukrainian-language poetry, stories, novels, history, biography, literary theory and criticism, as well as essays on various subjects. His essays “Myrna nasha rusyns’ka put’” [Our Peaceful Rusyn Way] and “Ia Rusyn, moi syn Rusyn” [I am a Rusyn, My Son is a Rusyn] from 1990 marked the beginning of the Rusyn movement in Subcarpathian Rus’ and energized the Rusyn renaissance. Soon after, he turned to the Rusyn language and published his first book of Rusyn-language poetry in 1990. He describes his own linguistic struggle and his return to Rusyn in the following poem:

Годів пйать я моцовався
Із чужым языком:
Він не пущав ня домі,
Материнську бисіду
У моє серце
Тот не пущав.
Айбо она терпелива:
Щи тисячу годів гонна была чекати.
Лиш потому я здогадався,
Що метеринська бисіда
І не лишала моє серце:
Она лише пустила была туды –
Добра, довірлива,
Й на момент!
Невдячного чужака.

Five years I struggled
With a foreign language:
It did not let me go home,
It did not allow
My native language
Into my heart.
But the mother tongue is patient:
She would wait even a thousand years
Until at last I would realize
That she had never left my heart.
She, being kind
And trusting,
Had allowed in
Only for a moment!
An ungrateful foreigner.

In contrast to most contemporary Rusyn-language poets who write verse in the style of folklore, Fedynyshynets’ writes modernist poetry, which focuses on the language itself, making it not only the medium, but the message. Modernist verse brims with puns, alliteration, word play, and striking metaphors. Fedynyshynets’ uses all these devices, and manipulates sound combinations to create a kind of verbal surrealism, a technical tour de force of incongruous imagery and unnatural juxtapositions that generates its own meaning, a meaning that is frequently impossible to translate.

... Чути рояль.
Роятся пчолі.
Чола солоні.
Соло рояля.
(Лоно рояля).
Роятся чола.
Пчолі солоні...

Fedynyshynets’ sums up the modernist style as “metaphor, sparked by the subconscious play of linguistic elements,” and when applied to his native language, it becomes a “national spark of imagery.” He believes in the need for a new modernist Rusyn poetry, new “metaphorical clothing” for the “old – albeit proper! – patriotic content.” Thus, Fedynyshynets’ depicts Rusyn endurance in a late-blooming rose or a flood-washed mountain. The landscape of the Carpathian region is a bright colored embroidered towel (ruchnyk), rolled down by his ancestors from mountain ridges, a design of squares and crosses in which the patterns of history can be read. The mountains themselves are the lost shoe of an astral horse that reared up in central Europe. The Rusyn spirit and tradition is, metaphorically, as inexhaustible and bottomless as the well in the poet’s mother’s village and metonymically, as expansive and international as its native sons in Hungary or America. The Rusyn of Subcarpathia, on the other hand, is “a beggar in his own land / Hungry, anxious / Beaten like a stray doge or cat … / Glory to Ukraine.” In Fedynyshynets’’s verse, gentle humor frequently coexists with bitter acrimony.

Fedynyshynets’’s metaphorical expression of Rusyn patriotism is evident in the opening poem of We are a Teardrop on the Earth:

Я кидь і вмру
І кидь душа моя людська по смерти
Перийде у штось иншоє,
Кажім, у ружу-косицю,
То ружа-косиця тота
Стане русинськов.
І она послідньов зовйане
В осіннім городци
Перед самов зимов.
А кидь душа моя людсжка по смерти
Перийде, кажім, у трепету,
То дерево тото стане русинськым.
І оно высохне послідным у хащи
Якое звезе відты коник-гуцулик.
А кидь душа моя людска по смерти
Перийде, кажім, у коника-гуцулика,
То коник тот стане русинськым.
І він упаде з копыт у зворі дись
Лише послідным ...
І стане добычов орла.
О, кидь душа моя людська по смерти
Перийде в орла-беркута,
То я вам ґарантую,
Што не лише нияка гадина
Не спрячеся й під сыров зимльов,
А й буду зорко сокотити
З вышины неба
Первинні границі Подкарпатської Руси.

When I die
And when after death my human soul
Passes into some other thing,
Say, into a rose,
Then that red rose
Will become Rusyn.
And it will live the longest
In the autumn garden
Right up until winter.
And when after death my human soul
Passes, let’s say, into an aspen
Then that tree will become Rusyn.
And it will be the last to fade in the thicket,
Out of which will come a hutsul-pony.
And when after death my human soul
Passes, say, into a hutsul-pony,
Then that pony will become Rusyn.
And he will be
The very last to fall ...
And he will become the prey of an eagle,
Oh, when after death my human soul
Passes into a golden eagle,
Then I guarantee
Not only that no sort of vermin
Will be able to hide under the damp earth,
But I will vigilantly guard
From the heights of heaven
The primordial borders of Subcarpathian Rus’.

Fedynyshynets’, Volodymyr (pseudonym: Volodymyr Tarakhonych) (b. May 9, 1943, Repynne [Karpatalja, Hungary], Ukraine) — belletrist, pedagogue, journalist, publicist, literary theorist, and cultural activist of Rusyn national orienation in Subcarpathian Rus’. After completing studies at the Pedagogical School in Mukachevo (1961) and the philological faculty of Uzhhorod State University (1966) Fedynyshynets’ taught at a school for special students in eastern Ukraine, then worked as a journalist for the Transcarpathian Regional Museum and various newspapers in Uzhhorod. He is a prolific writer who has published in several genres and mostly in the Ukrainian language. His publications include several individual volumes of poetry as well as a two-volume anthology, Sribni syluety (1994); two historical novels based on the Rusyn past (Brantsi lisu, 1993; Otets’ Dukhnovych, 1994); and extended biographical essays on the contemporary scholars Paul Robert *Magocsi (1995) and Petro Lyzanets’ (1996) and on the nineteenth-century historian of Uzhhorod, Karoly *Meszaros (1994, 1996). He has also published essays on local history, musicology, ethnography, folklore, literary criticism, and he has completed several literary translations.

Fedynyshynets’ can be considered the initiator of the Rusyn movement in Subcarpathian Rus’ during the last years of Soviet rule. Among his goals for the movement is the creation of a Rusyn literary language, which he has argued for in a series of passionate essays, some of which were republished in a Rusyn-Slovak-English collection, Myrna nasha rusyns’ka put’/Our Peaceful Rusyn Way (1992), and in three other collections: Ia esm’ vechnyi Rusyn (1995); Sud’ba Karpat (1996); and Karpato-ruteny u XXI storochi (1999). He was among the founders of the *Society of Carpatho-Rusyns (1990) and founding editor (1992) of its newspaper, *Podkarpats’ka Rus’. In recent years he has established the literary and public affairs journal Aino (1997- ), is vice-chairman (1997- ) of the Rusyn Scholarly and Enlightenment Society, and has begun to publish in Rusyn: My—slyzynka na zemly (1999). Fedynyshynets’s writings are frequently controversial in nature and have thus elicited a wide range of praise or criticism by Rusyns and non-Rusyns alike.

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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