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Lina Kostenko

Lina Kostenko

Ukrainian writer

Lina Vasylivna Kostenko (born 19 March 1930 in Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv Region, in the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union is a Ukrainian poet and writer, recipient of the Shevchenko Award (1987).

Kostenko is a leading representative of Ukrainian poets of the sixties known as the Sixtiers. This group started publishing during the 1950s and reached its apex during the early 1960s. It was during the 1950s when Kostenko published her first poems in major Ukrainian periodicals. She is a Honored Professor of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Honorary Doctor of Lviv and Chernivtsi Universities.


Early years

Kostenko was born in a family of teachers. In 1936, she moved from Rzhyshchiv to Kyiv, where she finished her secondary education. From 1937 to 1941 she studied at the Kyiv school #100, which was located on Trukhanov island, where her family lived. The school and the whole village was burned in 1943. The poem "I grew up in Kyivan Venice" is devoted to these events.

After graduating from high school, she studied at the Kyiv Pedagogical Institute, and later - at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow, from where she graduated with distinction in 1956.


She was one of the first and most noteworthy in the band of young Ukrainian poets, acting at the turn of the 1950s-1960s. The period of the so-called "sixtiers" created the newest styles in the Ukrainian literature, made it create something new, atypical, then avant-garde, but, as always, ruthless and as critical as possible to the authorities and the existing regime.

In the early 1960s, she took part in the literary evenings of the Kyiv Creative Youth Club. Following her graduation she published three collections of poetry in 1957 ("The Rays of the Earth"), 1958 ("Sails") and 1961("Wandering of the Heart"). These books became immensely popular among her Ukrainian readers, however they also forced her into publication silence as she was unwilling to submit to Soviet authorities.

Since 1961, she was criticized for "apoliticism." In 1963, the collection of poems by Lina Kostenko "The Star Integral" was removed from print and another collection of poems "The Prince's Mountain" was removed from typography. During these years, Kostenko's poems were published in Czechoslovakia's magazines, Poland's newspapers, and only occasionally in Ukraine's one, mostly in "samizdat."

In 1965 Lina Kostenko signed a letter of protest against arrests of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. She was present at the trial of Mykhailo Osadchyi and Myroslava Zvarychevska in Lviv. During the trial of the Horyn brothers, she threw them flowers. Together with Ivan Drach she appealed to the editorial office of the magazine "Zhovten" (now "Dzvin") and to the Lviv writers with a proposal to speak out in defense of the arrested. The writers did not dare to protest, but filed a lawsuit with the request to admit Bohdan Horyn on bail as the youngest of arrested. These efforts did not influence the trials, although they made a huge moral significance.

In May 1966 in the National Writers' Union of Ukraine, where the "nationalist outlaws" were labeled, a part of the youth held the ovation of L. Kostenko, who defended his position and defended Ivan Svitlichny, Opanas Zalyvaha, Myhajlo Kosiv and Bohdan Horyn.

In 1968 she wrote letters in defense of Viacheslav Chornovil in response to the defamation against him in the newspaper "Literary Ukraine." After that, the name of Lina Kostenko was not mentioned in the Soviet press for many years. She worked "in the drawer", knowing that her works were not going to be published.

In 1973 Lina Kostenko got on the "black lists," compiled by the secretary of the Central Committee on ideology of the Communist Party of Ukraine Valentyn Malanchuk. Only in 1977, after the departure of V. Malanchuk, was her collection of poems "On the shore of the eternal river" published, and in 1979, under a special decree of the Presidium of the Socialist-Revolutionary Guard, one of her greatest works was published, a historical novel in the verses "Marusia Churai" (about at 17th century Ukrainian folksinger) which had stagnated with recognition for 6 years. She was awarded the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of the Ukrainian SSR for in 1987.

Kostenko also wrote collections of poems "Originality" (1980) and "Garden of Unthawed Sculptures" (1987), collection of poems for children "The Lilac King" (1987). Her most recent collection is Berestechko, a book length historical poem.


March 19, 1930
Lina Kostenko was born in Rzhyshchiv.


Further Resources


A Powerful Poem- "The Wings" by Lina Kostenko - Performed by Bogdan Stupkaa


March 14, 2016

Notes of a Ukrainian Madman

Lina Vasylivna Kostenko



Lina Vasylivna Kostenko



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