(1898, Debaltseve – 1965, Kyiv)
As a child, Sosiura lived in the village Chervona Rota in Donbas. During the Ukrainian War of Independence, Sosiura fought first in Petliura’s Ukrainian Army and then in the Red Army. This inner controversy between nationalist and Bolshevik political views gave birth to the motif of duality in his poems (Two Volodkas, 1930). His first work was named The Red Winter (1921) and was a pro-Soviet poem about war and revolution. In the next big works of the 1920s Sosiura tried to bridge the duality of his political experiences, but it soon became obvious that there were no room for compromise. The poems either disappeared (like Makhno) or were left unfinished until the 1950s.
The Red Winter made Sosiura one of the top authors of Ukraine. His books of poems Autumn Stars and The City (both 1924), Snows and Today (both 1925), The Golden Hawks and Youth (both 1927) and When the Acacias Bloom (1928) were very popular. Sosiura was extremely candid in his poetry, sometimes making political poetry sound like love verses. It is interesting how two of the most renowned poems by Sosiura – No One Ever Loved Like This and Love Ukraine – are both about love, one for a woman and the other one for Motherland. Love Ukraine was written in 1944 and became part of the book For the Gardens to Rustle (1947) which brought him the Stalin Prize, but didn’t save from persecution. In 1951, the newspaper Pravda accused Sosiura of nationalism and disconnection from the real life for this very poem.
Sosiura retained his unique voice in urban poetry as well, so his works about Kyiv (where he lived for more than 25 years) also sound like tender love poems.
During the Khrushchev Thaw, Sosiura started to work on his abandoned poems from the earlier period. In 1959, he finished Mazepa, but was forced to add an epilogue praising ‘the friendship of peoples’ despite a fierce anti-Imperialist prologue. In the same year, he finished an autobiographical novel The Third Regiment, which he began writing back in 1923. In 1960, a poetical memoir Executed Immortality was written, telling about the repressed cultural figures of the 1930s. Uncensored versions of these texts were not published until the 1980s and some until the 2000s.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Volodymyr Sosiura: in 1937-1957 he lived in the writers’ house Rolit (now Bohdana Khmelnytskoho 68) and after than in Mykhaila Kotsiubynskoho 2.