Post-Soviet Reality as Interpreted by Contemporary Ukrainian Visual Poets

Tatiana Nazarenko, University of Manitoba

Vasyl Trubaj, Mykolo Soroka and Myroslav Korol are contemporary visual poets whose works have gained both national and international recognition. Although the creative output of these poets is not usually referred to as belonging to the same school (that is the Kyiv school of visual writing), their works manifest noticeable affinities in linguistic and non-discursive resources as well as in themes and interpretation. However, the individual style of each of the visualists is unique.

All three poets tend to resort to stylistically simple and minimalistic (both, verbally and visually) compositions. Many of them are dense in meaning and intense in discursive and non-discursive means, often suggesting a philosophical background or explicit moral and religions implications. Soroka and Korol tend to "letter-oriented" rather than "text-oriented" compositions, experimenting with typography. Korol, a graphic designer by training is especially keen on technically complex experiments and innovations. Additionally, Trubaj and Soroka explore the canonical forms of carmina curiosa (successfully developed in Slavic Baroque visual writing), such as Pythagorean verse, cross-shaped and grid-shaped compositions. Trubaj, who is known as a film script and fiction writer, also employs mythological motifs and elements. Generally, folkloric subjects and themes are not typical of visual poetry, which is formed by the complexities of modern reality, rather than by the mythology of an ethnic heritage. However, in Trubaj's interpretation, mythology is transferred to the level of modernity, and thus acquires existential meaning, as in his composition "Zugzwang."

The paper deals with the poets' most recent visual compositions (Vasyl Trubaj Zhvaltuvannia realnosti, Mykola Soroka Zorovi poezii and Slovovyd, Myroslav Korol: cycles "Chas i hroshi", "Chorne i bile," "Chervoni virshi," etc.), which interpret various aspects of Post Soviet Ukrainian reality. Aspects of textual visuality such as layout, typography, color application, point of ingress and other graphic manipulations are treated as significant agents of message conveying. The textual and visual semantics of the compositions are discussed from the semiotic perspective. Although each author's personal style receives a detailed treatment, a comparative analysis of the most productive trends in the works of visualists is provided