Iryna Shuvalova is an emerging Ukrainian poet who is said to be one of the most enigmatic representatives of contemporary Ukrainian literature. Her first book of poems “Ran” has gathered some of the country’s most important literary prizes, and her second book “Os” is currently in print. She comes to ICAC to work on her project “Glossolalia”.
Iryna was born in 1986 in Kyiv, where she also earned her two graduate degrees, in Philosophy and Translation; recently she has been awarded the Fulbright scholarship to study for her Master’s degree in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College in the U.S. Her poetry has been translated into 7 languages, including Greek. Iryna also works as a poetry translator – recently she became a recipient of the international Stephen Spender / Joseph Brodsky prize for poetry translation. She is the member of the National Writers’ Union of Ukraine.
According to press, Iryna can be considered “possibly the most interesting postmodern poet-mythmaker “. Indeed, her texts are closely connected with mythological topics and archetypes. In fact, many of her poems deal with characters and images taken from the ancient Greek myths. In her verse, Narcissus “is an arrow and an archer a swift and a shaft / and thirty-three veils of the soft flesh”; while addressing Icarus she writes: “You will be pulled from outside / poked from under the shoulder-blades / by the soft memory of wax / this relapse of the birdness”. As one of the literary reviewers has written, “Iryna Shuvalova is never lost even in the bright literary surroundings: she stands out due to her extreme sincerity, complete openness and an unforgettable timbre of literary voice”.
During her three-weeks-long stay at the ICAC, also made possible due to the grant provided by the program “i3” of the ”Development of Ukraine” fund, Iryna is going to work on her literary project “Glossolalia”. The project’s aim is to explore the cross-sections of Greek and Ukrainian languages by means of poetry. Such exploration can, in turn, help to discover the lost shades of words’ meanings or to create the new ones. In a way, it is a return to the roots, because the first borrowings from Greek into Ukrainian date back to the 5-th century B.C. According to the poet herself, for the Western civilization Kefalonia and Ithaca represent a unique geographic and cultural spot – the point of eternal return, which makes ICAC a perfect setting for work on a project such as “Glossolalia”.
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