(1925, Kamianets–Podilskyi – 2018, New York, USA)
Within the confines of this project the name of Oxana Dray-Khmara represents two poets: Oxana herself and her father, a Neoclassicist poet and critic Mykhailo Dray-Khmara.
Oxana was born in Kamianets-Podilskyi in 1925 and grew up in Kyiv. Her father was then the head of the Ukrainian studies department in the Medical Institute of Kyiv and the head of the Slavic studies department of the UAS Language Research Institute. He also organized seminars for scholars of Czech, Bulgarian and Polish language and literature, and was a member of the committee for the Ukrainian language of science. Besides this, Mykhailo Dray-Khmara was a popular lecturer, poet, and translator. Oxana’s mother Nina Dray-Khmara was an artist. The only child, Oxana grew up among intellectual people and books (the Dray-Khmaras’ library contained ten thousand of them). German was Oxana’s first language for reading and writing. She also started playing piano very early and attended music school since she was seven.
Her first poems were published in Zhovten magazine in 1934. She also helped her father in his translator’s work, and on the margins of Mykhailo Dray-Khmara’s manuscripts there are numerous notes saying ‘translated by Oxana’.
The happier years ended when Mykhailo Dray-Khmara was arrested first in 1934 and then in 1935. In 1937, while Mykhailo was imprisoned in the concentration camp in Kolyma, his wife and daughter were exiled to Bashkiria. In 1938, the relatives managed to take Oxana back to Kyiv. Nina returned in 1939.
In the years of World War II, Oxana Dray-Khmara managed to move to Prague. There she studied in the academy of music. Her poems got to be published in the Ostarbeiter periodic Dozvillia and the Prague magazine Probojem. In 1951, Nina and Oxana Dray-Khmara emigrated to the USA.
Oxana was a dedicated researcher of her father’s literary and academic work, as well as his letters, and published much of it. She received Master’s degree in the Columbia University of New York and later the PhD degree in Slavic studies in Sorbonna. She lectured in the Long Island University and in the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Oxana Dray-Khmara died in New York in 2018.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Oxana Dray-Khmara: Sadova 1/14 has a memorial plate to Mykhailo Dray-Khmara. The Dray-Khmara family dwelled there in 1923-1935.