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KHOLODNYI Mykola Kostiantynovych

31.07.2019 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko

(b. 31.07.1939 in the isolated farmstead of Yahidnyi, Village of Krasnopillia, Koropskyi Region, Chernihiv Oblast; according to the documents, on 30.07.1939, Village of Karylske, the same region--died in mid-February 2006)

Poet-Sixtier, literary critic, essayist, translator.


He was born into a peasant family. His father Kostiantyn, b. 1918, after the war with Japan in 1945 did not want to return to collective serfdom and remained in Siberia near dispossessed exiled relatives where he tragically died in 1964. His mother, Hanna Mykhailivna Chucha (1916-16.02.1984), worked hard in the collective farm.

In 1946 Mykola went to elementary school in the Hamlet of Stiahailivka; in 1953 he graduated from Karylske seven-year school. Mykola hated Stalin so much that at the age of ten, in 1949, he wrote and hurled a leaflet in the school hallway: "Today Stalin has died. All people pray to God.”

In 1950, Kholodnyi mailed his poems to Pavlo Tychyna; the latter subscribed for him the newspaper "Literaturna Ukrayina" for a few years.

In 1955, Kholodnyi was expelled from Krasnopilska high school for trying to have a mustache. On 01.09 the newspaper “Radianska Koropshchyna" published his poem "Brigadier-slacker” signed with a pseudonym “M.Petrenko”. Had to flee the village and found himself in Myrhorod, where he worked as an odd-job man at the local stadium. Kholodnyi wrote to the newspapers and participated in the meeting of urban and rural correspondents in 1957, recorded folklore and sent it to the Institute of Ethnomusicology.

In 1961, Kholodnyi finished Romodanivska School for Working Youth and entered the Philological Department of Kyiv University. He met Ivan Dziuba. Since 1962 he participated in the activity of Creative Youth Club “Contemporary”, spoke at literary evenings at the Writers’ Union, schools, higher educational establishments, factory houses of culture, parks, and took part in the march with torches to the monument of Ivan Franko. The short poems of Kholodnyi were distributed in samizdat. They were characterized by irony, allegories, and powerful patriotic pathos. His poems became a source of popular quotations.

In December 1962, the first collection of poems of Kholodnyi Red Dream, which had a positive review by Dziuba, was crossed out from the publishing plan of Derzhlitvydav. In December 1963, he had his first reading at the House Writers’ Union of Ukraine. In 1964, during the Day of the Philologist at the University Kholodnyi recited his poem “The 300th Anniversary of the Reunification of Ukraine with Russia”; in this regard  Dean P.M.Fedchenko advised Kholodnyi to choose between the evening department and expulsion.

In April 1965, Kholodnyi gave a talk at the Student Scientific Conference “On the soul in the song and the song in the soul”, in which he positively mentioned S. Petliura, U.Samchuk. In August, he went to the Carpathian Village of Sheshory to attend the unveiling of the monument to Taras Shevchenko, where together with V.CHORNOVIL, Zinoviya ​​Franko and other he organized a meeting in connection with the prohibition of the monument unveiling. In September 1965, despite the objections of the Party Committee of the University, the Vasyl Chumak Literary Studio (“S&Ch”) elected Kholodnyi its chairman. On 05.12.1965, Kholodnyi took a swipe at the novel Verbivchany by Prof. Arsen Ishchuk during the discussion. The next day he was expelled from the Komsomol and the fifth year of studies. He spent the nights with his friends in Kyiv, participated in many literary events reading his harsh, rebellious, revolutionary-romantic poems that were very popular. His poems were included into an anthology of Ukrainian poetry in Prague.

On 18-19.04.1966, together with Lina KOSTENKO and Ivan Drach Mykola Kholodnyi protested near the Lviv Oblast Court, where Mykhailo OSADCHY, Myroslava ZVARYCHEVSKA, Bohdan and Mykhailo HORYN were tried. In May, samvydav published his 90-page letter to P. Shelest about the violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

05.29.1966 for reciting his poems "Franko’s Monologue" and "Dogs" at the monument to I.Franko on the 50th Death Day, Kholodnyi together with Oles SERHIYENKO, Viktor Kovalchuk and Valeriy Nabok were arrested for 15 days. In Lukyanivka jail, they went on hunger strike, they were force-fed and humiliated. After discharge Kholodnyi was banished from Kyiv. In June-October he was a watchman in the state-farm garden in the Village of Novo-Oleksandrivka, Yahotyn Region, where he translated from Russian into Ukrainian the manuscript of Olena APANOVYCH The Armed Forces of Ukraine in The First Half of the 18th c.

On 09.03.1967, Kholodnyi was removed from functions of instructor-methodologist Dobrovelychkivskyi House of Culture, Kirovohrad Oblast, for public reciting of poems and poems contained in New York Ukrainian poetry anthology Sixty Ukrainian Poets of the Sixties (compiled by B.Kravtsiv).

With the assistance of Candidate of Philology Ivan Varchenko Kholodnyi was transferred to Odesa University and in 1968 he was certified there. In July, he was fired from Samhorodska school, Skvyr Region, because his poems were published in Duklia Bimonthly (Slovakia). At the same time at the apartment of Viktor Nekrasov he met A.D.SAKHAROV and Vladimir Bukovskiy.

The collected poetry The Power Station of Life was crossed out of the publishing plan 1968 of the Radianskyi Pysmennyk Publishers. In November, his poems appeared in the Svoboda Newspaper (USA), in December in the Suchasnist Monthly no. 12 and in Pivnichne Siayvo Almanac (compiled by Yar Slavutych, Edmonton, Canada). Kholodnyi was excluded from the Slovo Housing Cooperative list of the Union of Writers and fired from Kozynets School.

In 1970, Kholodnyi wrote a candidate’s thesis on psycholinguistics “People in the Light of its Language” (confiscated during the search at M.OSADCHYI’s apartment in January 1972). The poems of Kholodnyi were published by the samvydav magazine Ukrayinskyi Visnyk edited by V. CHORNOVIL; the publisher called him the most popular poet in Ukraine. Kholodnyi became a member of the editorial board of the Lviv samvydav Skrynia Magazine and designed a charter of the Independent Union of Writers. He was fired from Mykulychi school, Borodianka Region.

In December 1971, Kholodnyi distributed his letter to the Plenum of the Union of Writers of Ukraine on working with creative youth. In connection with the arrests of the Sixtiers on 14.01.1972 he appealed to the Chinese leader Mao Zedong requesting political asylum.

On 20.02.1972, Kholodnyi was arrested and charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda (art. 62, p. 1; the main charge was for a collection of poems A Cry From the Grave). Investigator L. Berestovskyi blackmailed Kholodnyi with psychiatric examination. On 07.07.1972 the Literaturna Ukrayina Newspaper published the letter of Kholodnyi “On the scales of conscience”." The author renounced his "politically erroneous verses" and those who pushed him into "anti-Soviet quagmire”. He was released from remand center of the KGB of the UkrSSR on 07.06.1972 by order of Kyiv Oblast KGB administration from 05.07.1972 about dismissal of the criminal case.

Called as a prosecution witness in the case of Z.ANTONIUK (1972) and I. SVITLYCHNYI (1973), Kholodnyi tried to protect them.

In August 1972, Kholodnyi wrote an avant-garde manifesto “In the same car, but not in the same train”; then he attempted to set up a literary association “Chuma” (“Lo and behold! We are avant-garde!”).

After his discharge Kholodnyi worked as a teacher in Vinnytsia, where in 1974 he organized together with local writers The Ustym Karmaliuk Studio (“SUKA”), which was thrashed at the Regional Ideological Meeting. In Vinnitsa, he was unjustly arrested and sacked time and again.

Since July 1976, Kholodnyi lived in the Town of Oster, Chernihiv Oblast. In November, he as the head of the department was fired from the museum of local lore. He worked in schools from where he was repeatedly fired in due course.

In 1979, the Vatican Ukrainian Publishing House brought out the book "On the soul in the song and the song in the soul"; it was awarded the Honorary Prize and in 1981 it was reprinted in Canada and the United States.

In April 1982, Kholodnyi was accused of destruction of the statuettes of Lenin, Brezhnev and artistic towel “300 Years of Ukraine with Russia" and sent to Chernihiv Oblast psychiatric hospital for 10 days. His work at the school was accompanied by numerous reports to the authorities, summons to the KGB, prohibitions and accusations of nationalism.

On 16.02.1984, in the Village of Karylske, Kholodnyi’s mother died tragically. His participation in the funeral the principal treated as an absence from work. On 17.04, Kholodnyi appealed to US President Ronald Reagan asking for emigration. The regional KGB officer issued a warning; the Kozelets Regional People’s Court decided to prohibit leaving the Tow of Oster, and Kholodnyi was sacked again. On 26.04.1986, in the aftermath of Chornobyl Disaster the Town of Oster found itself within in the zone of radioactive contamination, but Kholodnyi could not leave the town.

In 1987, Kholodnyi initiated the construction of the church in his native village. In 1989, he created in Oster the cell of the People’s Movement of Ukraine and hoisted the yellow-blue flag over the Town Council. In Kozelets he created the regional literary group named after repressed writer Vasyl Nefelin. In 1990, he joined the International Association of Ukrainian Studies.

In June 1991, Kholodnyi was rehabilitated concerning the 1972 case. He was not reinstated at school and he failed to return to Kyiv. Kholodnyi participated in many literary evenings in different places and published his poems. In 1992, the SSU returned Kholodnyi his manuscripts confiscated in 1972. In 1992, he conducted his reading at the Writers’ Union entitled “I Died in 1972”. In February 1993 the Rector of KSU canceled the 1965 order of expulsion of Kholodnyi.

In March 1993, the first collection of poems of Kholodnyi The Road to My Mother was published in Ukraine; on 23.03 he was admitted to the Writers’ Union of Ukraine; his book was nominated for the Shevchenko Prize. In January 1997, Kholodnyi was awarded the prize and title of academician of the creative association "Bu-Ba-Bu"; in 1998 he was awarded the V.Sosiura Prize (Luhansk).

In 1998, the Central State Archive of Literature and Art Archive of Ukraine created the Kholodnyi Fund no. 1348.

On 11.02.1999, the Kyiv City Court annulled the Kyiv Leninskyi District Court order from 29.05.1966 about sending Kholodnyi to Lukyanivka prison.

Kholodnyi wrote his reminiscences about A. HORSKA, V.NEKRASOV, V. STUS, books about M.OSADCHYI, Y.SLIPYI to name a few. He is the author of several forewords. He was the winner of literary and artistic prizes: V.Nefelin Prize, V.Sosiura Prize, Blagovest, Vatican Honorary Award. Four times his works were nominated for the State Shevchenko Prize. Since 2002, he was a member of the All-Ukrainian Association of Political Prisoners and Repressed; as of 23.03.1993 he was a member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine, chairman of the H.Vaschenko Regional Kozeletsk Ukrainian Pedagogical Society. In 2005, he was awarded the Honorary Diploma of the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. He participated in the “Orange Revolution”.

He died at home under mysterious circumstances in the middle of February 2006. On 15.03.2006 he was buried in the Town of Oster, Chernihiv Oblast.




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