March 9 is the birth date of Taras Shevchenko, a persecuted yet still prolific Ukrainian poet and artist who is widely regarded as Ukraine’s literary father. He is also renowned and revered for his impact on the development of the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian culture and the strengthening of the Ukrainian identity.
So it is fitting that this date was chosen as Ukrainian Literature Day across Canada.
Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, detailed the origin and intent of the first annual Ukrainian Literature Day in Canada on Nash Holos. You can listen to the interview here.
The goals of Ukrainian Literature Day are twofold:
1. To encourage the public to make use of the thousands of resources available. Most Canadian libraries offer a variety of books on Ukraine and Ukrainian subject matter, both in English and in Ukrainian. Yet many community members are unaware of the wealth of information that is available to them.
2. To keep these books in circulation so they will be available to future generations. Books that are not regularly checked out are removed from library circulation, either discarded or moved into storage where they are no longer accessible to the public. This could happen to books with Ukrainian subject matter if they are left to languish in the library stacks.
Public libraries are generally very responsive to public requests to stock titles of new books as well as older books that are still in print. So if you don’t see enough books in your public library or the titles you want, fill out and submit a suggest-to-purchase form. And make sure to check them out when they do arrive!
On Ukrainian Literature Day, SUSK and the UCC are encouraging members of the Ukrainian Canadian community to visit their public or university libraries to read and/or check out books and other materials (CDs, films, etc.) on Ukrainian topics.
However ... reading books on Ukrainian topics is a good thing to do every other day of the year as well!
If you’re looking for inspiration to get started, here’s a list of authors and titles that have been featured on Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio over the years. The author interviews are still available for your listening pleasure.
Lubomyr Luciuk: In Fear of the Barbed Wire Fence, Searching for Place, and 20 other titles on the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during WWI and other topics pertaining to Ukraine and Ukrainians.
Valya Dudycz Lupescu: The Silence of Trees – A novel about a woman who lost her family in WWII Ukraine and emigrated to America.
Mila Komarnisky: Wretched Land – novel about a Ukrainian family that survived three famines and two wars in 20th century Ukraine.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch:
- Making Bombs for Hitler and Stolen Child, two companion children's novels on two little-known Nazi atrocities, the Ostarbeiter and Lebensborn programs.
- Hope’s War, a young adult novel about a man falsely accused of being a Nazi war criminal.
- Enough, a children’s picture book about the 1932-33 Great Famine in Ukraine (Holodomor)
- Silver Threads, a children’s picture book on the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during WWI
- Kobzar’s Children: A Century of Untold Stories, a collection of fiction and non-fiction edited by Marsha Skrypuch and written by a variety of authors (including myself).
Myrna Kostash: Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium, All of Baba's Children and other titles.
Oleg Atbashian: Shakedown Socialism – A Ukrainian ex-pat warns his fellow Americans about the roots of communist atrocities, including the causes that led to the Holodomor (1932-33 famine-genocide in Ukraine)
Randall Maggs, Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems. Winning entry of the 2010 Kobzar Literary Award for his acclaimed hockey saga about legendary NHL goalie Terry Sawchuk.
Orysia Dawydiak: House of Bears, a novel chronicling the experiences of a young Ukrainian Canadian woman in 1970s Ontario, and her mother in WWII Ukraine.
Mirko Petriw: Yaroslaw's Treasure, a political thriller linking the fall of Kyiv in 1240 to the Orange Revolution of 2004.
Paul Cipiwnyk on his mother, the late Sonia Morris Sonia Morris and his aunt, Roma Franko, co- founders Language Lantern Publications, which translates turn-of-the-century Ukrainian literature into English.
Joan Brander: About the Pysanka – It is Written! A Bibliography and Pysanky on Paper: An Activity Book for Children. A collection of resources on Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating, and a unique colouring book for children.
Victor Malarek: The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade on the trafficking of Ukrainian and other East European women and children for sexual exploitation.
Irene Zabytko: The Sky Unwashed about survivors of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster and When Luba Leaves Home a coming of age story about a young Ukrainian American woman.
If you'd like to add any of these books to your personal library, they're available at Amazon.