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Belarusian Poetry

Guide to Belarusian Poetry

Here is some information on Belarusian poetry which comes from the Republic of Belarus.  This can help you become familiar with poetry from this culture that has shaped today’s poetic writing.  Take a look at our other valuable resources on English as you continue your research and studies.

The Republic of Belarus is a land-locked Eastern European nation surrounded by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Once falling under the territories of several nations, the Republic of Belarus achieved sovereignty on July 27, 1990 and, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, political independence on August 21, 1991. Belarusian literature began with religious writings in the 11th to the 13th centuries, with the birth of Belarusian modern literature taking place in the 19th century. Below is a listing of the works of several contemporary Belarusian poets and their work.

Selected Belarusian Poets and Their Works

Славамір Генрыхавіч Адамовіч – Slavamir Adamozich (Adamovič) (1962-present):

A poet, publicist, journalist, and political activist, he was the first Belarusian poet to condemn Stalin as a leader, soon after the dictator’s death. He is also a leader of the Right Revanche, a political organization which exists in opposition to the regime of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, which has existed since July 20, 1994. Slavamir Adamovich has been arrested, charged, and imprisoned for his creative expression and political activities, including for his writing of a controversial poem, entitled “Kill the President!” that was published in the independent publication Vybar in Vitebsk. Although this poem did not refer to any specific person or event, Slavamir Adamovich was charged with the inciting terrorist acts and imprisoned.

Мiхал Анемпадыстаў – Michal Aniempadystaŭ (1964-present):

A contemporary Belarusian poet and writer.

Наталля Аляксееўна Арсеньнева – Natalya Arsen’neva/Natalla Arsiennieva/ Natalla Arsieńnieva (1902-1997):

One of the most gifted Belarusian poets of the twentieth century, she frequently made lyrical, philosophical, and patriotic references to great Belarusian historical figures and was a great supporter and contributor to the Belarusian national revival. Of Russian descent and born in Azerbaijan to a tsarist official’s family, she married a Belarusian political figure and Polish army officer. Her first book of poetry, published in 1927, was entitled Pad sinim niebam (“Under the Blue Skies”). In 1940, with the incorporation of West Belarus into the Soviet Union, she and her children were deported to Kazakhstan and were only able to return to Belarus at the intervention of fellow Belarusian writers. She lived in Minsk during the German occupation years of 1941 to1944, after which time period she emigrated to the United States. Her work is currently banned from school curricula by the regime of President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Максім Багдановіч – Maksim Bahdanovič (1891-1917):

Maksim Bahdanovič was born in Mensk, Bealrus and became a writer and poet beguiled by and fascinated with Belarus, his literary muse. In addition to poetry, he was also a journalist, essayist, and writer of scholarly articles, as well as a linguist who translated numerous literary works. In 1913, he published a book of poems, entitled The Garland. In 1916, he graduated from the Juridical Lyceum at Yaroslavl’, and returned to Belarus, where he contracted tuberculosis. In 1917, he died of the disease – just as his mother and brother had done – at the Black Sea Resort of Yalta at the age of 25 years.

Анатоль Вялюгiн – Anatol Vialuhin (1923-1994):

One of the most prominent poets and writers of Belarus.

Навум Гальпяровiч – Navum Halpiarovič (1948-present):

A poet of the Republic of Belarus.

Ларыса Геніюш – Larysa Heniyush/Larisa Geniush/Larysa Hienijuš/ Larysa Hienijush (1910-1983):

A Belarusian poet and nationalist, from 1928 to 1943, she worked as secretary for Vasil Zakharka (Zacharka), the Belarusian National Republic’s president-in-exile. She was also active in the organization of a Belarusian newspaper entitled Ranica (“The Dawn”). In 1948, she was arrested on charges of Nazi collaboration and alleged conspiracy against the Soviet Union and imprisoned in labor camps in Czechoslovakia, Soviet prisons, and Stalinist labor camps. She was released in 1956 prior to the end of her term, but was never cleared of her charges. In 1967, she published two collections of children’s poetry and prose. A memoir of her poetic legacy, filled with the memories of the tragic years she and loved ones spent in labor camps, was published posthumously. She never accepted Soviet citizenship.

Адам Глёбус – Adam Hlobus/Adam Globus/ Uładzimier Adamčyk (1958-present):

A poet of the Republic of Belarus.

Уладзімір Сямёнавіч Караткевіч – Uladzimir Karatkievič/Uladzimir Karatkevich/Vladimir Korotkevich (1930-1984):

A Belarusian romantic writer – a poet, author, playwright and translator – who used rich imagery and deep emotion to contribute to the development of historical themes in Belarusian literature. In 1954 he graduated from the Philological Department of Kiev University, and then subsequently became a teacher. Later on, he studied advanced literature and cinematography. He published his first poem in 1951, then turned to prose and wrote short stories, novels, plays, articles, essays, and screenplays. He was a recipient of several national literary awards.

Якуб Колас – Yakub Kolas/Jakub Kolas (1882-1956):

Author of some of the true Belarusian literary classics, he is considered to be the founder of modern Belarusian literature. He was a poet, playwright, writer, teacher, academic, activist, scholar, and lexicographer. His real name was Kanstancy Mickievič (Міцке́віч Канстанці́н Міха́йлавіч); his pseudonym, “Kolas” translates into “ear of grain” and symbolized his agrarian sympathies. He was imprisoned from 1908 to 1911 for actively opening schools in Belarus, which was forbidden by the tsarist regime. In 1926 served as the People’s Poet of the Byelorussian SSR, in 1928 as member and in 1929 as vice-president of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences, and in 1946 and 1949, he won the USSR State Prize.

Рыгор Крушына – Ryhor Krushyna/ Ryhor Krušyna (1907-1979):

A Belarusian poet, lyric poet, and satirist.

Янка Купала – Yanka Kupała/Janka Kupala (1882-1942):

A classic poet and playwright of Belarusian literature, he is to this day referred to as the “National Prophet” and was a key figure in both the creation of modern Belarusian literature as well as the Rebirth Movement of Belarus. His real name was Ivan Lucevich (his pen name – “Kupala” – was chosen in reference to Kupalle, the ancient summer solstice ritual) and his family was of the lesser gentry. He was editor of Nasha Niva from 1914 to 1915. In 1925, he was the first poet to receive the honorific title of the People’s Poet. Self-educated for the most part, in 1928 and 1929 his literary achievements led to his election to both the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Ukraine, respectively.

Сяржук Сокалаў-Воюш – Siaržuk Sokalaŭ-Vojuš (1957):

Siaržuk Sokalaŭ-Vojuš is a contemporary Belarusian poet.

Мiкола Трафiмчук – Mikola Trafimčuk (1950-present):

Mikola Trafimčuk is a contemporary poet of the Republic of Belarus.

Ян Чачот – Jan Čačot/ Jan Czeczot (1796-1847):

Jan Čačot/ Jan Czeczot was a romantic poet, ethnographer, and a nobleman of the Clan of Ostoja family of the Commonwealth of Belarusian origin. Fascinated with folk lore, today he is considered to be one of the predecessors of Belarusian national revival. In 1823, he was arrested for his role as the Secretary in the secret student organization called the Philomatic Society and forcibly relocated to Siberia for a period of time as punishment. In 1837 he published his first book, an anthology entitled, Piosnki wieśniacze znad Niemna (Folk Songs of the Neman River); this book was then published as a second, greatly expanded edition in 1844 under the title of Piosnki wieśniacze znad Niemna z dołączeniem pierwotwornych w mowie słowiańsko-krewickiej (Folk Songs of the Neman River with Originals Written in Slavic-Krevich Language). This second edition included translations of his writings into what could be considered the predecessor of the modern Belarusian language. After his death, Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko put some of his poems to music.

  • Lady Franusia – Haspadyn’ka Franusia – Гаспадынька Франуся (1842)
  • Mother – Mamka – Mamka
  • Oh, My Unhappy Land - O Ty Kraj Moj Nies^c^aslivy – О Ты Край Мой Нешчаслiвы (1823)
  • Country Walk – Visakovyja Uciechi – Вясковыя Ўцехi
  • Man and Woman - Kum i Kuma – Кум i Кума

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