Translated by Maria G. Rewakowicz
Born in the Cherkasy region in 1941, Mykola Vorobiov is an established poet and artist who uses deeply expressive imagery to convey reality. Together with Vasyl Holoborodko, Viktor Kordun, and Mykhailo Hryhoriv, Vorobiov was a founding member of the nonconformist Kyiv School of Poetry. Their works ran counter to socialist realism, which was the only officially-sanctioned “creative method” in Soviet literary culture from the early1930s through 1985, with the announcement of perestroika and glasnost.
In 1967, Soviet authorities seized two collections of Vorobiov’s poetry, Bukinist [A Bibliophile] and Bez kory [Barkless], from poet Vira Vovk when she attempted to smuggle these works out of the Soviet Union. This event had tremendous consequences for Vorobiov, who was placed under KGB surveillance and declared “ideologically unreliable.” His works were banned from Soviet magazines and publishing houses for nearly two decades. As with so many Ukrainian poets whose output was silenced by Soviet policies, the censoring of Vorobiov begs the question of what his career might have looked like if he had been able to publish freely. As translator Maria Rewakiowicz explains in her introduction to the volume, Vorobiov “chose inner exile rather than cooperation with authorities and a chance to be stained by propaganda-like publications,” as did other poets of the Kyiv School.
In 1985, Vorobiov’s first poetry collection Pryhadai na dorohu meni [Remind Me for the Road ] was released. He has since published over 12 volumes of poetry. In 1992, Wild Dog Moon, a collection of his poems in English translation was published in Toronto. In 2005, Vorobiov was awarded the prestigious Shevchenko Prize in Literature.
Mountain and Flower represents over fifty years of Vorobiov’s creative output, bringing together poems from his earliest collections, to the present. Vorobiov’s works are infused with metaphor and imagery, often focusing introspectively on life’s quiet treasures. Through exquisite vignettes that incorporate nature, plants, landscapes, campfires and rainy days, Vorobiov reveals himself as a “master of the miniature.” He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Translator Maria G. Rewakowicz has authored four collections of poetry in Ukrainian and two monographs of literary criticism in English. Her book Ukraine's Quest for Identity: Embracing Cultural Hybridity in Literary Imagination, 1991-2011 (2018) is the 2019 winner of the Omeljan Pritsak Book Prize in Ukrainian Studies. Working closely with Vorobiov on her translations of his poems, Rewakowicz provides a beautiful introduction, saying: “Our collaboration has been based on trust and mutual respect. As it attempts to penetrate the invisible that has no beginning and no end, this volume invites the reader to plunge into the mysterious unknown.”
I look at the stove fire and it’s like I dream of cherries
That kind of cherry-like home hearth
a faraway land cannot embroider for me,
and it’s not something to be sent from home. No way.
The fire sighs. The fire quiets. Dusk
Only the leaves of palms shine,
Reflecting the summer sun towards evening