Stefanovych, Oleksa

Stefanovych, Oleksa [Stefanovyč], b 5 October 1899 in Myliatyn, Ostrih county, Volhynia gubernia, d 4 January 1970 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo: Oleksa Stefanovych.) Poet. A graduate (1919) of the Volhynia Theological Seminary in Zhytomyr, as an interwar émigré he studied at Prague University (1922–8; PH D diss on Amvrosii Metlynsky as a poet, 1932) and the Ukrainian Free University (1928–30). His poetry appeared in Ukrainian journals in Prague, Lviv, and Chernivtsi and was published in Prague as the collections Poeziï, zbirka I (1923–1926) (Poems, Collection I [1923–6], 1927) and Stephanos (1939). Although Stefanovych belonged to the ‘Prague school’ of Ukrainian poets, the voluntarism characteristic of the works of its other members is absent in his poems. His creativity was inspired by elegiac memories of Volhynia's landscapes, by Ukrainian historical and mythological figures, and by tragic events in Ukraine's past and present. Paganism (with erotic overtones) and, in his later poems, Christianity (often of the mystical variety) were dominant forces in his oeuvre. His style is notable for the originality of his poetic language, with its archaisms, neologisms, and unique use of syntax. Neoromantic and symbolist elements and folklore-based imagery predominate in his early works. Later his language becomes abrupt and precise, and his rhythms frequently break in sharp, falling cadences to suggest a sense of fatalism and apocalypse. As a postwar refugee in Germany and, from 1949, Buffalo Stefanovych published a few poems in émigré periodicals. A posthumous edition of his collected works, including those previously unpublished, appeared in Toronto in 1975.

Riazantseva, Tetiana. Branets’ vichnosti: Aspekty poetychnoi tvorchosti Oleksy Stefanovycha (Kyiv 2007)

Bohdan Boychuk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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