(1963, Kyiv – 2008, Kyiv)
Among Ukrainian poets writing about Kyiv there are not many Kyivites, but Attila Mohylnyi is one of them. He got his unusual name from the Hungarian mother. His father was a poet writing for children under the pen name Vit Vitko. Vasyl Ovsiienko, a dissident, reminisced about the life of the family: ‘Everything in their house in Chokolivka was Ukrainian. There were Ukrainian writings on the walls, Ukrainian books and objects of folk art… An informal circle of Ukrainian intellectuals gathered there’.
Attila Mohylnyi studied languages in the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv and later lectured in the University of Kyiv and the University of Warsaw. He studied Farsi and culture in Tajikistan.
He didn’t write much. There are two books of poems, Tumblers over the Roofs (1987) and Contours of the City (1991), and a book for children, Mavka and the Prince of Ants (1988). Kyiv is the main character of Mohylnyi’s works, not just a setting for the events, but a world in its own right. There are numerous very specific details, as in the name of the first book: tumbler pigeons were a popular breed in Kyiv when Mohylnyi was child.
To quote Ivan Malkovych: ‘In Attila’s poems Kyiv is a full-blooded Mecca of Ukraine. His language is precise, aristocratic and dashing. One can easily imagine princes of the ancient Ukraine speak like this, if they traveled to war or the hunting grounds and suddenly found themselves in Kyiv of today’.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Attila Mohylnyi: You can map Mohylnyi’s poems to specific locations in the city. Most of them have speaking titles, like Ukraine Begins in Vidradnyi. The collection Cafes depicts real places on specific streets and squares: in Paris Commune Street, at the corner of Saksahanskyi Street, and near ‘the square with cannons’. There is a collection titled The Change of Seasons in the Andriivsky Descent, and many titles have ‘Old Kyiv’ in them. Chokolivka is dedicated to the memory of the poet’s grandfather, who was in the resistance and was killed in 1943.