Striving for the good of all, but not himself

A conversation with Tetiana Mykhailova, an expert on the poetry of Vasyl Stus at the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv. Interviewer: Tomasz Lachowski

TOMASZ LACHOWSKI: We met a few days before the premiere of a new Ukrainian film called The Forbidden (Zaboronenyi) describing the story of Vasyl Stus – one of Ukraine’s most prominent poets. Undoubtedly, The Forbidden aroused a lot of controversies even a year before its premier, mostly because of its political nature. You have conducted research on Stus’s works and were invited by the film’s director, Roman Brovko, as one of the few specialists to consult with. Did the final version of meet your expectations?

TETIANA MYKHAILOVA: Indeed, I interpret Vasyl Stus not only through this film but also through other artistic activities where the poet appears – music, theatre and painting – and, of course, my academic research. That is why my vision of Stus is probably different than the average Ukrainian. I have no doubt that The Forbidden is great news for Ukrainian viewers and it shall force us to rethink Stus’s role in the development of Ukrainian culture. Nonetheless, I have to admit that during the first screening, while still in the working phase, I had a slight dissonance between how I view the poet and how Stus was portrayed on the screen.

August 26, 2019 - Tetiana Mykhailova Tomasz Lachowski