Home > Poetry > from Prayers: 1
Translated from the Ukrainian by Bohdan Rubchak and Askold Melnyczuk
Published: Mon Apr 15 1991
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
from Prayers: 1

Translated from the Ukrainian by Askold Melnyczuk and the author


Soul of truth
settle down
inside us,
wash the blindness
from our eyes.

Enter our frailties,
place the leaf of healing
on them, make our bones
howl with immortality.

Heal doubt and pain
and strip the husk
from Heaven
whose drops of light
can dowse our thirst
for You.

See what's inside AGNI 33

Bohdan Boychuk (1927–2017) published ten books of poetry in Ukrainian, not including his 2007, two-volume Collected Poems. He was also the author of nine novels; at least eight plays, several of which were gathered in a selected edition in 2013, and many translations from English, Polish, Spanish and Russian. He edited the literary magazines Suchasnist (Modernity; 1961–1973) and Svito-vyd (Worldview; 1990–1999) and co-edited, with Bohdan Rubchak, the major anthology of modern Ukrainian poetry Coordinates. Mark Rudman and David Ignatow translated Memories of Love: The Selected Poems of Bohdan Boychuk, published by Sheep Meadow Press in 1989. In the last decades of his life, Boychuk divided his time between Kiev and Glen Spey, New York.

Bohdan Rubchak was born in 1927 in western Ukraine and now lives in New York City. He has written six volumes of poetry, two novels, eight plays, and has served as literary editor of the Ukrainian magazine Suchasnit. He has collaborated on translations of poetry into English with Davis Ignatow, Stanley Kunitz, and Mark Rudman, among others.

Askold Melnyczuk is the founding editor of AGNI and contributes a series of essays called “Shadowboxing.” He is professor of creative writing at UMass Boston. Excerpts from his anti-memoir in progress have appeared recently in The Threepenny Review and Epiphany. The Epiphany excerpt, “Turbulence, Love,” was cited as Notable in The Best American Essays 2010. His third novel, The House of Widows (Graywolf Press), won the Editor’s Choice Award from the American Library Association as one of the outstanding books of 2008. His second novel, Ambassador of the Dead (Counterpoint, 2001) was called “exquisite, original” by The Washington Post, and his first, What Is Told (Faber and Faber), was a New York Times Notable Book for 1994.

In 1997 Melnyczuk received a Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Award in Fiction. Winner of the McGinnis Award in Fiction, he has also been awarded grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. He has published stories, poems, translations, and reviews in The New York TimesThe NationThe Partisan ReviewGrand StreetPloughsharesAGNIPoetry, and The Boston Globe. His poems have been included in various anthologies, including The McGraw-Hill Book of PoetryLiterature: The Evolving Canon, and Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets. He has edited three volumes in the Graywolf Take Three Poetry Series, as well as a volume of tributes to Father Daniel Berrigan and a livre d’artiste on painter Gerry Bergstein. He also coedited From Three Worlds: New Writing from Ukraine.

He previously taught at Harvard University, the graduate Bennington Writing Seminars, and Boston University, where he edited AGNI until its thirtieth anniversary year in 2002. A research associate of the Ukrainian Institute at Harvard, he has served on the boards of the New England Poetry Club and PEN New England and has been a fellow of the Boston Foundation. In 2001 he received PEN American Center’s biennial Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing as well as PEN New England’s “Friend to Writers” Award.

Melnyczuk founded AGNI in 1972 as an undergraduate at Antioch College and Arrowsmith Press in 2006. (updated 10/2022)

See him interviewed on New England Authors.

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