Ukraine: Lina Kostenko

No human being or living creature deserves to be killed or eliminated. His destiny cannot be solved here, on earth.

— Lina Kostenko

Lina Kostenko is one of the greatest national contemporary poets in Ukraine. She (74) now works as a member and inspirer of expeditions to Chernobyl. She is an expert in ethnology, folk culture, and sociology. Together with a group of volunteers, she works to preserve the culture and history of Chernobyl. The volunteers meet with people who refused to leave their homes and provide assistance or just listen to their history. As a poet, she feels responsibility for every word she produces. For her, the main criterion is truth.

Lina Kostenko was born in 1930 in the region of Kiev. She was a teenager when World War II broke out and she witnessed the occupation of her homeland by German troops. Those events found reflection in poems; she began to write them at the age of 14. After the war, she graduated from the Moscow Institute for Literature. After her studies, she returned to Ukraine and wrote and published a series of poetry books (1957, 1958, and 1961). The beginning of her creative activity coincided with the zenith of the authoritarian regime of the Soviet Union. Those who were dedicated to higher arts could not have their own vision of life and could not express themselves, but had to adapt their poems to the demands of socialist realism. However, in the 1960s, she expressed the desires and aspirations of the post-war generation of Ukrainian writers. Among them were Vasyl Simonenko, Mykola Vinhranosky, and Ivan Drach. Their project was to re-vitalize Ukrainian literature and to make space for a national literature, independent from the influence of political dogma and the current communist regime. Together with other independent authors she signed various petitions in defense of political prisoners, supporting people punished for their freedom of opinions. She was never indifferent to the miseries and sorrows of other people, something that is revealed in her poems and actions. She is a talented woman who enjoys life and, in spite of her age, is very energetic and active. By meeting people and staying close to nature, she perceives other people's pain as her own. That is why the famous poet has chosen to go to Chernobyl, one of the most painful areas in Ukraine, to save the culture and the trust of people with the power of humanism.