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Yuri Izdryk

Translated by Roman Ivashkiv and Erin Moure


Yuri Izdryk’s poetry explodes with existential contemplations and addresses regarding love, identity, nature, society, and even God. All his poems operate with an indefatigable play with language that encompasses incessant punning rhymes, Joycean multilingual puns, ludic shifts of tone and register, and scintillating intertextual games. In creating a sophisticated semantic soundscape where sound drives meaning, Izdryk impishly reinvigorates the rhyming tradition in Ukrainian poetry, which only recently has leaned towards free verse. To a North American reader, the poems—which are all short riffs—evoke styles of rap, hip-hop, or jazz. Largely letting go of the rhymes, the translators of this selection of Izdryk’s work emphasize his zany rhythms to capture his deft play with both modernity and tradition, and his vigorous gallows humor. In Izdryk, linguistic dexerity is the roll of the dice that, though it can’t vanquish apocalyptic despair, can keep its desolation at bay.

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Yuri Izdryk was born in western Ukraine, in Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk region, in 1962. One of Ukraine’s most original and playful voices, Izdryk is a writer, musician, and visual and performance artist. He is the author of several books of prose and received wide critical acclaim for his 1997 experimental novel Wozzeck. In the past decade, Izdryk has primarily focused on poetry, which he featured in his livejournal blog “The Dead Diary.”

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