(Yurii Lysenko, born 1958, Kyiv)
Yurko Pozaiak is the author of two books of poetry, one Ukrainian and one Croatian. The Ukrainian one is called The Masterpieces, and it has been growing for thirty years, getting longer with each new edition. It contains a series of limericks, the famous ‘Alco-haiku’, and poems in Ukrainian, English, Croatian, Serbian, Church Slavonic and even in the secret language of thieves from the Jewish market in Kyiv. The Masterpieces is an elaborate game of words in the first place, which is only logical as Pozaiak was giving lectures in literary stylistics in Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv for fourteen years. Earlier he studied Serbian, Croatian and Ukrainian language and literature in the same university and was awarded a PhD here.
In 1988, Yurko Pozayak, Semen Lybon and Viktor Nedostup founded an avant-garde poetic group Propala Hramota (The Lost Letter) in Kyiv. Kyiv was made one of their main characters, perhaps the only one the group treated with any respect. All other matters were handled with humor, irony, sarcasm and wordplay. The poems of Pozaiak and his friends are widely quoted; some of them became lyrics for the songs of the Lviv-based band Mertvyi Piven. In 1991, Propala Hramota published a self-titled book. It was an absolute bestseller and soon couldn’t be bought anywhere; the second edition was only printed in 2019 by the Kyiv-based publisher Liuta Sprava.
Yurko Pozaiak has been in diplomatic service since 1998 and was posted to Croatia and Serbia several times. While in Zagreb, he started writing poems for children in Croatian, co-authored by his then 8-year-old daughter Daria. Their joint book of poems for children titled Whatnot was published in 2002 and then reprinted in 2014 and 2019.
Pozaiak is also a translator. From English, he translated Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, tales of Beatrice Potter and Hugh Lofting’s The Story of Doctor Dolittle; from French (jointly with Yaroslav Koval) Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style; from Croatian, Simo Mraović’s Konstantin Bogobojazni, Žarko Jovanovski’s poems and other poems by modern Croatian authors.
Currently he lives and works in Kyiv.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Yurko Pozayak: As a child, he lived in Biloruska 5; as a young man, in the so-called writers’ building in Honchara 52. Besides, there’s the Yellow Building of the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, and the café Kobza on the corner of Honchara and Velyka Zhytomyrska 25/2, where the creative crew used to gather.