Stus, Vasyl. Container of poetry smuggled out of Siberian hard labor camps, 1970s.
While in exile Stus wrote many texts that were almost impossible to send out to family and friends. Some texts made it out in letters, but that was only partly successful as not all of them passed through the censors. There was a scheme devised in the camps whereby texts were passed on using small containers, which held rolling papers for cigarettes with text written tiny script on both sides, which were then rolled up and placed into tubes that were either swallowed, or transferred in some other way. In Stus’s collection is one such container, which held a number of these rolling papers onto which he had written in the smallest legible text some poems he had drafted while in the camps. These poems not only made it out of the camps and also the Soviet Union, as fellow activist and Soviet political prisoner Nadia Svitlychna managed to publish these poems abroad, even though publishing Stus’ poetry was forbidden at that time in the USSR. The original papers somehow made it back to the family, which they donated to the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature along with the rest of his archive. It is the view of Galyna Burlaka, a senior research fellow at the institute and head of the Department of Manuscripts and Textual Studies that items such as this are fantastic and unique on their own. However, given Stus’ prominence and history, they are also national treasures. This is why the Institute of Literature’s archive has the status a national repository, as it holds items of immense value for Ukraine as a whole.
Kyiv City, Kiev, Ukraine 02000
- Kulick, Orysia Maria