(1904, Kamianets–Podilskyi – 1983, Kyiv)
Mykola Bazhan became part of the avant-garde movement in his youth. Being a student in Uman, he co-founded the Futurist-Spiralist literary group. The inspiration for this was found in the contemporary revolutionary poetry and performances by the Kyiv Drama Theater ‘Kyidramte’ lead by the prominent Ukrainian avant-garde theater director Les Kurbas. The group was short-lived, but the members got a mention in Proletarska Pravda.
Upon the arrival to Kyiv in 1921, Mykola Bazhan started a friendship with Futurist writers Mykhail Semenko and Geo Shkurupii and had his first poems published in October Collection of Panfuturists in 1923. Bazhan was a lover of cinema and worked in All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration. He authored several screenplays, edited the Kino magazine and was one of the first to praise the work of Oleksandr Dovzhenko.
Bazhan’s first book of poems, Seventeenth Patrol, published in Kharkiv in 1926, was markedly Futurist. Yet, in the same year Bazhan left the Futurist groups and joined VAPLITE, an artistic union affiliated with classic models of European culture and demanding literary excellence from its members. In this period, Bazhan developed a unique style combining features of Expressionism, Romanticism and Baroque art. The Buildings (1929) epitomized these literary ideas via complex imagery of a Gothic cathedral, a gate in the style of Ukrainian Baroque, and a Modernist house. Bazhan’s climatic works include poems The Night of Hoffmann (1929) and The Blind (1930, unfinished).
With repressions of the Stalinist regime becoming more and more widespread, Bazhan mostly worked as translator, including the translation into Ukrainian of the epic poem The Warrior in the Tiger’s Skin by the medieval Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli (1937). In the 1930s, Bazhan had to cave in to the regime’s pressure and wrote odes to the totalitarian power. During the Khrushchev Thaw in the mid-1950s – mid-1960s Bazhan was the editor of the Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia and managed to include into it names of several Ukrainian artists, previously forbidden by the Soviet regime (Mykhailo Boichuk, Tymofii Boychuk, and Oleksandr Arkhypenko among them). Holding high offices in the Communist party, Bazhan did a lot to rehabilitate repressed writers and artists of the 1930s.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Mykola Bazhan: Mykola Bazhan Memorial Museum in Kyiv was established in celebration of the poet’s 100th anniversary in 2004 in his former flat at Tereshchinkivska Street 5, where Mykola Bazhan and his wife had lived for forty years.