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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“These people have discovered a lot in me I’ve never known”

Lina Kostenko’s poetic soiree organized by Donetsk devotees
30 September, 2010 - 00:00

“It wouldn’t be true to say that Lina Kostenko’s 80th birthday was widely celebrated in Ukraine. This makes her poetic soirees, which are now organized by her devotees, all the more important and memorable.” This was the opening statement of the concert “Staring in Your Eyes for Ages” held at the Actor’s Home in Kyiv, in which actors, singers, and musicians from various regions of Ukraine took part. The concert was permeated with a cozy, family-like atmosphere. The initiator of the project was the House of Cultural Workers of Donetsk and its artistic director, Kateryna Kalinichenko. The program included Marusia Churai’s monologues, songs to Kostenko’s lyrics, and poetic collages from the collection Neporvtornist (Uniquiness). Mykola Vinhranovsky’s poems were also recited. Among those who appeared on stage were Maria Kushmet, postgraduate student at the Donetsk National University; Svitlana Marchenko, pupil of the composer, Pavlo Tiutiunnyk; actors of the Mushlia Theater of Poetry (Kyiv); Lilia Kobilnyk, winner of the All-Ukrainian Zoloti Trembity Competition, and her daughter Olena; Nelly Franchuk, winner of Ukrainian bards’ competitions; the actors Yulia Kozhukh and Yurii Chekov (Zankovetska Drama Company, Lviv); Svitlana Olkhovychenko and Yevhen Nyshchuk, both Merited Actors of Ukraine, and Kateryna Kalinichenko.

Lina Kostenko’s presence in the audience was a pleasant and memorable surprise for the cast and the spectators, and the great poetess’ words of gratitude addressed one and all:

“I must tell Lilia Kobilnyk that she has impressed me tonight; she sang what I had been meaning to write. Yurii Chekov, of Lviv Theater, came up with an insolent collage of my poems, but it was so well done! You all shouted bravo! I would’ve shouted, too, except I didn’t want to betray my presence. For example that poem, ‘I love my people in an antipeople,’ passed unnoticed in the Soviet Union; they didn’t get my message. And I wrote about the present reality. I don’t want to make a long speech, I just want to thank all those who came from Lviv, Drohobych, Donetsk, and all of you Kyivites. You brought me great joy. And those girls who recited Mykola Vinhranovsky’s poems. We hear today that no one needs poetry. Untrue. Just as it is untrue to divide us into those who live in the east and the west of Ukraine. You heard tonight that both east and west are wonderful. I’m also grateful for there having been no political accents, for there having been only poems and songs. I’ve never known that my poems sound like that as songs. These people have discovered a lot in me I’ve never known. I thank them all.”

Kateryna KALINICHENKO, artistic director, Donetsk House of Cultural Workers:

“We were especially happy to see Lina Kostenko because until the last moment we hadn’t expected her to attend the concert. You should have seen the expression on the performers’ faces when they learned that Kostenko was in the audience. They were all devoted to poetry and the fact that the famous poetess was present added a great deal to their inspiration. I don’t even know how to express that emotional state; one had to experience it to understand it. Kostenko’s desire to meet with the young actors was a big event.”

Yevhen NYSHCHUK, Merited Actor of Ukraine:

“Lina Kostenko loathes pompous jubilees. In contrast, such comparatively simple occasions make one keenly aware of the presence of a fantastic poet and such meaningful poetry. I was very glad to see Kostenko in such a festive mood. She found warm words for every performer. It was remarkably sincere.”

Halyna KRYVORCHUK, producer of the Game of Fate series:

“To say that I was very impressed is to say very little, for what happened was a moment of spiritual unity with the audience. Lina Kostenko’s presence lent the concert a special aura, and so every performer tried to do his/her utmost on stage, and everyone was happy about her being in the audience. This project, like all those others that gather people from various cities to hear Ukrainian poems and songs, is something extremely important, something we badly need. I have attended other soirees organized by Kateryna Kalinichenko. The very title of her project, ‘Art without Frontiers,’ implies that where true poetry and music are present, there are no room left for political squabbles. This is perhaps what the Ukrainians need for their cultural unity. This is also proof that we lack this unity, found in chamber audiences. On the one hand, Kostenko’s poetry requires such chamber atmosphere, but on the other it calls for a larger audience. And so projects like this one must have more publicity. Unfortunately, our media has other targets. It’s good that last night’s soiree was attended by the newspaper Den and the Culture Channel; that Den carried an ad about the soiree. In fact, most people, including Lina Kostenko, learned about it from that ad. I’m sure that if there were more information, a greater number of people would be willing to attend. What our Donetsk friends are doing is really out of the ordinary, something we really need.”

By Viktoria SKUBA, The Day