Kalyna Language Press

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  • Birds from an invisible island

    The title of this entry is adopted from a story by the Ukrainian writer Valeriy Shevchuk. It struck me as I read this piece that Ukrainian was like an island and its language like a flock of birds rising and cawing in the air. What do I mean by that? Ukrainians are always using the word last... the last bastion, the last barricade. The language was always under threat whether it was the reds bayoneting Ukrainian speakers as they entered Kyiv or the Tsar consigning national poet Taras Shevchenko to exile in the tundra. Yet it remained in people's hearts, an island, more than a language, the voice of potentialities, of an imagined justice. It echoed in the icy air of the revolution, boomed and sang through speakers... the language was the bird from an island that is as yet unseen because it does not exist. The freedom that was so long yearned for. This piece by Natalia Sniadanko paints a picture of the threat faced by Ukrainian culture. But I believe that the birds that flew for so long from that island are coming to rest at last like cranes returning over the Steppe...


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