Drach, Ivan [Drač], b 17 October 1936 in Telizhyntsi, Kyiv oblast. (Photo: Ivan Drach.) Poet, screenwriter, and political leader. Drach studied at Kyiv University (1958–61) and completed advanced scriptwriting courses in Moscow in 1964. He worked for a few years in the script department of the Kyiv Artistic Film Studio and on the editorial staff of Literaturna Ukraïna and Vitchyzna. His works have appeared in print since 1959. He has published the following collections of poetry: Soniashnyk (The Sunflower, 1962), Protuberantsi sertsia (Protuberances of the Heart, 1965), Poeziï (Poems, 1967), Balady budniv (Everyday Ballads, 1967), Do dzherel (To the Sources, 1972), Korin’ i krona (The Root and the Crown, 1974), Kyïvs’ke nebo (The Kyivan Sky, 1976), Duma pro vchytelia (Duma about the Teacher, 1977), Soniashnyi feniks (The Solar Phoenix, 1978), Sontse i slovo (The Sun and the Word, 1979), Amerykans’kyi zoshyt (American Notebook, 1980), Shablia i khustyna (The Saber and the Kerchief, 1981), Dramatychni poemy (Dramatic Poems, 1982), Kyïvs’kyi oberih (A Kyivan Amulet, 1983), Telizhentsi (1985), Khram sontsia (A Temple of the Sun, 1988), Lyst do kalyny (A Letter to a Viburnum Tree, 1990), and Vohon’ iz popelu (Fire from the Ashes, 1995). He has also written several scripts that have been used for films, including Krynytsia dlia sprahlykh (A Well for the Thirsty, 1967), Kaminnyi khrest (The Stone Cross), based on a short story by Vasyl Stefanyk, and Idu do tebe (I Am Coming to You) about the life of Lesia Ukrainka. Drach is also a recognized literary critic. Drach stood at the forefront of the Ukrainian literary revival initiated by the shistdesiatnyky (the ‘Sixtiers’). His poetry is noted for its originality, fresh imagery, complex metaphors, philosophical meditation, neologisms, and varied rhythm. Drach was criticized sharply for his departure from the canons of socialist realism, especially in the poem ‘Nizh u sontsi’ (Knife in the Sun, 1961), and for the satirical poem ‘Oda chesnomu boiahuzevi’ (Ode to an Honest Coward, 1963). He compromised with the regime in the late 1960s, and this proved detrimental to the quality of his later work. In the 1970s and 1980s he traveled abroad as an official Soviet cultural emissary.
In the late 1980s Drach emerged as a prominent political activist in Ukraine. As head of the Kyiv organization of the Writers' Union of Ukraine he was instrumental in forging the coalition that created the Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh). He then headed Rukh: solely from 1989 to 1992 and then jointly in 1992. He was elected as a People's Deputy in 1990 and again in 1998 and 2002 and became the head of the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council at its founding convention in 1992. His works were printed in a two-volume collection in 1986 and studies of his life and work were written by Mykola Ilnytsky (1986) and Anatolii Tkachenko (1988 and 2000). A collection of speeches, essays, and addresses by Drach as well as interviews with him—all from the 1990s—appeared in 1997 as Polityka (Politics).
Il’nyts’kyi, M. Ivan Drach: Narys tvorchosti (Kyiv 1986)
Tkachenko, A. Ivan Drach (Kyiv 1988)
Kovtun, V. Ivan Drach: Sproba portreta ukraïns’koho polityka (Kyiv 1998)
Tkachenko, A. Ivan Drach: Poet, kinodramaturh, polityk (Kyiv 1986)
Ivan Koshelivets, Marko Robert Stech
[This article was updated in 2007.]