Vasyl Stus is one of the outstanding Ukrainian poets of the twentieth century, one of the courageous "Sixtiers".
He was born on January 8,1938 in the village of Rakhnivka in the Kyiv region. Vasyl spent his childhood in the Donbas. After graduating from a Teachers' Training College he worked as a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature. In 1963 he moved to Kyiv to become a post-graduate student at the Institute of Literature.
Vasyl Stus started publishing in 1963-65. His first collections of poetry included "The Circuit". "Winter Trees" and "The Merry Cemetery".
In 1965, during the period of political thaw, Vasyl Stus publicly protested against the repression of the Ukrainian intelligencia. He was expelled from his post-graduate program. In 1972 he was arrested and charged with anti-Soviet propaganda. He was sentenced to five years in the camps and three years of exile.
His prison poetry included the collections "A Candle in a Mirror" and especially "Palimpsests". Palimpsest is a parchment which has been reused after previous writing has been erased. These collections are considered the height of his creative heritage.
Vasyl Stus prison poetry explores the themes of life and death, fate and destiny, individual choice and responsibility. The treatment of these themes places his work in the context of those written by Taras Shevchenko.
He returned back to Kyiv in 1979 only to be arrested again eight months later. This time he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and five years of exile.
Vasyl Stus died on September 4, 1985 in a punishment cell at a camp for political prisoners in the Urals. He was 47 years old.
In 1989, Vasyl Stus, together with poet Yu. Lytvyn and philologist O.Tykhyi were reburied on the Baikove cemetery in Kyiv.
In 1990, posthumously, Vasyl Stus was awarded the State Prize of Ukraine in Literature for his poetic collection "The Way of Pain".
Vasyl Stus takes the undeniable leading place on the modern Ukrainian literary horizon.
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