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Papharhai, Diura / Дюра Папгаргаї

Papharhai, Diura/Papharhaji, Dura born in 1936 in Ruski Kerestur, Yugoslavia, Dura Papharhaї completed secondary school in Novi Sad and studied the languages and literatures of Yugoslavia at the University of Novi Sad. Upon graduation he worked as a correspondent and editor (1964-1966) of the newspaper Ruske slovo, then served for over three decades as editor-in chief of the literary and cultural journal Shvetlosts (1966-1998).

Papharhai began publishing poetry and prose in the 1950s while still a student. His first volume of poetry, Tu takoi pri shertsu (1968) was unanimously hailed by critics as an outstanding achievement, and it received a prize from Ruske slovo for the best work by a Vojvodinian Rusyn writer between 1945 and 1969. This was followed by Olovo, Cheresn'ov kvet (1974); Trovach snokh (1978); the epic Chuvare khmarokh (1981); the collection of poetry for children, Nie dam svoio roki i kvit (1977); and Putovanie na iuh (1991). Papharhai’s poetry combines high artistic merit with very sophisticated imagery that can be read on many levels; thus, it provides access to his poetic world for a broad range of readers. His poetry successfully combines traditional eternal poetic themes (ars poetica, the native people, time, history, Biblical subjects, and contemporary reality) with specific Rusyn national traits. Putovanie na iuh is an artistic whole, a literary masterpiece.

Papharhai's prose includes several short stories for children, Koniets shveta (1980), and a collection of tales, Vina (1984). His plays Ostats u sebe (1971), Vistata konitsa (1973), and others are regularly performed by amateur groups and the professional Diadia Rusyn National Theater in Novi Sad, for whom Papharhai himself has performed. His latest dramatic work, a “Rusyn trilogy” entitled Obrazi na skori (1988), is dedicated to the history of his people, beginning with their arrival in Kerestur during the 1740s. He is also the author of numerous articles of literary criticism, reviews, and textbooks.

In 1997 Papharhai won the prestigious Vuk Karadzic Award in Yugoslavia for literary achievement, and in the same year he became the first laureate of the Aleksander Dukhnovych Award for Rusyn literature.

Elaine Rusinko

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