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Vasyl Stus VASYL STUS:
The Man and His Life


A look into the life, work, and struggle of a dissident poet.

Based on material published in "The Doomed Bridegroom".

©1998 by Myrna Kostash, from The Doomed Bridegroom (Newest Press)

Web-posted with permission. Please do not reproduce, duplicate, or distribute this piece.

The following is a brief look at the life of Vasyl Stus.

A richer look into Vasyl Stus' life may be found in Myrna Kostash's memoir "Inside the Copper Mountain" which we are proud to present online.

more Read Inside the Copper Mountain
by Myrna Kostash

A Lifeline
Note: some items in this Lifeline are linked to passages from Myrna Kostash's fictionalized memoir of Stus.

To go to the related passage simply click on the 'text' icon which appears next to the Lifeline entry.


 1938, January 8
Vasyl Stus born in Rakhnivka, Vinnytsia region, Ukrainian SSR

 late 1950s
graduates from Donetsk Pedagogical Institute and takes teaching assignment near his birthplace

 1959
his poems appear in print for first time

 1963
a substantial selection of his poems is published in the literary magazine, Dnipro

 1964
admitted to post-graduate studies at Institute of Literature, Kyiv

 1965
appointed senior academic assistant at the State Historic Archives; marries Valentyna Popeliukh; Ukrainian intellectuals arrested under Article 62 of the Penal Code ("Slandering the State")

more 1965, September 4 (Kyiv)
premiere screening of Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors; Stus' first public political protest; his expulsion from doctoral studies

more 1966
son Dmytro born; trials of those arrested in 1965

more 1966, June
Stus dismissed from his position at the Archives

 1968 (Summer)
writes open letter to Writers' Union of Ukraine protesting arrests of writers; signs letter to Soviet leaders defending imprisoned Ukrainian intellectuals

 1969
writes article in Literaturna Ukraina describing campaign of terror against Ukrainian intellectuals

 1970
collection of poems, Zymovi Dereva, published in Brussels

more 1970, December 7
funeral of artist Alla Horska to whom Stus dedicates poem

 1971, December
Stus writes letters to Writers' Union and to Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, accusing them of persecution of Ukrainian intellectuals

more 1972, January 13
Stus arrested and imprisoned in Kyiv

 1972, February 4
KGB search Stus' apartment, confiscate papers and books, and charge him under Article 62

more 1972, August 31
his trial begins in Kyiv Regional Court

 1972, September 7
Stus convicted and sentenced to five years of forced labour in Special Regime camp in Mordovian ASSR and three years of internal exile in Siberia

 1976, January
Stus' "J'Accuse" document attacking KGB is smuggled out of camp and published in New York

 1975, August 2
Suffers haemorrhage from perforated ulcer in camp

 1976, July
goes on hunger strike demanding return of his poetry

 1977
begins compulsory labour at gold mine near Magadan, Siberia

 1978
Stus' father dies

more 1979, October
returns to Kyiv at end of sentence; joins the Ukrainian Group of the Committee for the Observance of the Helsinki Accords

more 1980, May 14
Stus indicted as a repeat offender under Article 62

 1980, October 2
sentenced to ten years of forced labour in a maximum security camp and five years of internal exile

more 1983
his prison notebook circulates in the West

 1985
an international committee of scholars, writers, and poets nominates Stus as a candidate for the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature

more 1985, September 4
Stus dies, aged 47, in labour camp 36-1 near Perm, Russia


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Last updated: March 01, 1999