Ukrainian feminist poetry: is it coming of age?

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Abstract

The lack of understanding of the principles underlying feminist ideas prevents the reading public of Ukraine from grasping the fact that feminist criticism is now simply one of the methodological strategies of contemporary literary scholarship. And yet the beginnings of feminism in Ukraine date back to the 1880s and the first feminist anthology, Pershyi vinok (The First Garland). Recent feminist writing, though not always consciously feminist, has included the poetry of the eldest and most eminent of the female writers, Lina Kostenko, who first appeared i n print in the 1950s. Her new and unexpected interpretations of historical detail are well highlighted when contrasted with those of male writers. Natalka Bilotserkivets' is a much younger poet, who does not consider herself a writer of gendered or feminist texts, but may be read as such by the initiated reader. The most strikingly and openly feminist approach is that of Oksana Zabuzhko, a poet, prose-writer and essayist whose sophisticated style encompasses subjects and themes from the political to the erotic. Zabuzhko's interest in sexual politics leads her to use the past to condemn the enduring patriarchal social order, often focusing on the role of the woman-victim and presenting a critical view of men generally. Public discussions of this genre of poetry, as well as the availability of recently translated classical feminist texts, are a sign that Ukrainian feminist literature is coming of age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Slavonic Papers
Volume45
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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