© Kucky

Boris Khersonsky   [ Ukraine ]

Boris  Khersonsky was born in 1950 in Chernivtsi, Ukraine and studied medicine in Ivano-Frankivsk and Odessa. He initially worked as a neurologist before becoming a psychologist and psychiatrist at the state hospital in Odessa. In 1996 Khersonsky took on an appointment at the department of psychology at Odessa National University and has served as chair of the department of clinical psychology since 1999. He is currently the president of the Kyiv Institute of Modern Psychology and Psychotherapy. In addition to writing scientific articles on topics such as depth psychology and family conflicts, Khersonsky has also followed a family literary tradition begun by his grandfather, a pediatric neurologist who wrote satirical verse under the pseudonym »Ro«, and continued by his father Grigorij Khersonsky, who published books of poetry in 1949 and 2004.

Boris Khersonsky published his first poems while still at university. Before and during perestroika he was part of the Samizdat movement, which disseminated alternative, nonconformist literature through unofficial channels. His works were published in Odessa’s municipal press as well as abroad in literary journals and anthologies. Khersonsky’s formal literary debut came in 1993 with »Vos’ma častka« (tr: The Eighth Part). Four years later he published »Semejnyj Archiv« (Eng. »Family Archive«, 2006), a story told in verse. The book was published in Moscow (2006) as well as in Austria. The author tells the story of a Russian-Jewish family against the backdrop of the tragedies of the 20th century. A critique in the magazine »Falter« compared Khersonsky’s work with the verse novel »Eugen Onegin« (1825) by the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin: »[His] unrhymed verses sometimes go into the smallest detail of everyday life, then widen to philosophical reflections of aphoristic brevity.« In 2014, the book was translated into Dutch by the publisher Pegasus. The Ukrainian and Czech editions appeared in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

The influence of Khersonsky’s training as a psychologist is evident not only in his clear, poetic diagnoses, but also in his primary focus on people. His numerous other publications were followed by the 2014 volume of poetry »Missa in tempore belli/Messa vo vremena vojny« (tr. Mass in Times of War) in which Khersonsky describes his impressions of the Maidan revolution. It was followed a year later by »Otkrytyj dnevnyk«, a »public diary« about the Ukraine crisis that focuses particularly on Odessa. In February 2015 Khersonsky stated in an interview that he would leave Odessa if the city were to be occupied. On the evening of the very same day there was a terrorist attack just outside his house. In 2018 he published »Odesskaja intelligencija« (tr: The Intellectuals of Odessa), a declaration of love to the port city and its thinkers and poets. The book presents absurd prose in satirical form that describes the life of a poet who loses his mind because of the love for the Odesa intelligentsia. The second part of the book is a collection of Khersonsky‘s poems dedicated to the city. In 2019 he published »Vklonytysja derevu«, comprised of texts written by Khersonsky in Ukrainian or translated by Sergiy Zhadan, Volodymyr Tymchuk, and Oleg Goncharenko.

Khersonsky’s literary work has won him many awards, including the J. Brodsky scholarship (2008), the »Kievskie lavry« Poetry Festival Prize (2008), the Jury Special Prize at the Literaris Festival for East European Literature (2010), the Austrian H.C. Hartmann award (2014), Y. Sheveliov (2016) award from the Ukrainian PEN center, and the Maximilian Kirienko-Voloshin Literature Prize (2019) for his Odessa diaries. The author lives in Odessa and Kyiv.

Bibliography

 

Vos’ma častka

Odesskij vestnik

Odessa, 1993

 

Semejnyj Archiv

Moscow, 2006

 

Mramornyj list

ARGO-RISK

Moscow, 2009

 

Missa in tempore belli/Messa vo vremena vojny

Iwan Limbach

Sankt Petersburg, 2014

 

Kaby ne raduga

Folio

Charkiv, 2015

 

Otkrytyj dnevnyk

Duch i litera

Kiew, 2015

 

Vspyška Sverchnovoj

Roždestvenskie stichi

Duch i litera

Kiew, 2017

 

Odesskij dnevnik 2015–2016

Folio

Charkiv, 2017

 

Odesskaja intelligencija

Folio

Charkiv, 2018

 

Vklonytysja derevu

Vydavnyctvo Staroho L’eva

Lviv, 2019

© internationales literaturfestival odessa