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Василь Махно (1964) - поет, есеїст, перекладач. Видав шість поетичних збірок, найголовніші з яких: "Книга пагорбів та годин" (1996), "Лютневі елегії та інші вірші" (1998), "Плавник риби" (2002), "38 віршів про Нью-Йорк і дещо інше" (2004) книжку перекладів польського поета Збіґнєва Герберта "Струна світла" (1996), поетичну антологію "Дев'ятдесятники" (1998), літературознавче дослідження "Художній світ Богдана Ігоря Антонича" (1999).
Перекладає сучасну польську, американську, сербську поезію.
Вірші та есе перекладалися польською, англійською, сербською, німецькою, вірменською, російською, румунською та словенською мовами. Окремими виданнями виходили вибрані вірші у Польщі " Wedrowcy" (2003), "34 wiersze o Nowym Jorku i nie tylko" (2005)
Належить до Асоціяції українських письменників та PEN Club (США).

Vasyl Makhno was born in the town of Chortkiv in the Ternopil region. His life began in a manner completely typical for a Ukrainian poet: interest in literature in secondary school, then study at the pedagogical institute in Ternopil, then graduate school. In 1995, he defended his doctoral dissertation on the topic of 'The Artistic World of Bohdan-Ihor Antonych', published as a book in 1999. The love of this Ukrainian poet for Antonych was also a rather typical phenomenon: almost every Ukrainian poet, especially of the younger generation, has acknowledged a debt to him. For that reason, Antonych and the Modernist tradition in general - both Ukrainian and global - are more than apparent in his work.

Nevertheless, at least one thing makes Makhno stand out against the background Ukrainian poetic tradition, and that is his rather prolific output. Since 1993, when his first collection of poetry, Skhyma (Schema), was published in Ternopil, he has published six collections of poetry, a collection of translations of the prominent Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, Struna svitla (String of Light, 1996), and compiled an anthology, Deviatdesiatnyky: Antolohiia novoi ukrains'koi poezii (Poets of the Nineties: An Anthology of New Ukrainian Poetry, 1998).

Makhno began to travel in the late 1990s. He taught at the Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and in 1997, he was published for the first time in Polish translation. The Polish literary journal Dekada Literacka published several of his poems in Andrzej Nowak's translation. Poland became the first step in Makhno's westerly progress. It seems to me that his wanderings through the streets and taverns of old Krakow instigated his 'literary emergence', when the world that surrounded him started provoking no less interest than his own inner world. The shelter of the Modernist tradition, where many Ukrainian poets during the end of the late twentieth/early twenty-first century used to hide from reality, suddenly cracked.

And later there was the move to the United States, which undoubtedly effected a sharp division in Makhno's life and poetry. The poet has called Plavnyk ryby (The Fish's Fin), which was published in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, in 2002, two years after he settled in New York, his "most transitional book". Half of it was written in Ukraine and the other half in the United States. But his subsequent, and most recent collection, 38 virshiv pro N'iu-Iork i deshcho inshe (38 Poems about New York and some other things), published in Kyiv, demonstrates that this rupture in his life didn't break him, but caused fundamental structural changes in his work. It wasn't the kind of rupture that grows into a dangerous precipice, but one like a break in a cocoon, which grants the freedom of new creation.

Makhno's texts continue to be unusually dense, saturated with metaphors, symbols and cultural allusions. They continue to preserve his characteristic rhythm, as if they are written to be read in the same breath, with only a dash separating the words or, inversely, linking them together. Michael Naydan writes about this in more detail in his translator's note, written especially for this site. However, Makhno is no longer hiding in his own poems. Poetry for him is now transformed into a way of living through a liminal situation, of living with the unexpected questions that life generates: about the boundaries of the Ukrainian ghetto, about poetry as a gift or a craft, about the Western tradition and the Eastern canon.

"Privately, I experienced a real rebirth," said Makhno in an interview especially for Poetry International. "I came to the understanding that in essence the Western style of life differs from the Ukrainian, but the most important is that permanent feeling of art's contemporary nature." The search for poetry in New York, which in the end helped the poet to reconcile himself with one of the most modern and timeless cities, gave Makhno a kind of second wind. He has not only been transformed from a bucolic into an urban poet. Now, he is a Ukrainian poet who speaks a common language with contemporary Ukrainian poetry.

Kateryna Botanova

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