Ukrainian-American Wolodymyr Mirko Pylyshenko dedicated his life to building a collection of artifacts that would make denial of Ukrainian identity impossible. Scott Tong's interview (11-minute listen) with his daughter and a Ukrainian municipal official describes the building of that collection and the unfortunate timing of its return to Ukraine.
|Pylyshenko's ID from a US-operated refugee camp is a reminder
of the high stakes of his library project and of a time when the
United States was more accomodating of refugees than it is today.
This story is not unprecedented; what comes to mind most immediately is the tale of the Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, who heroically protected artifacts in Mali.
Among the documents considered vital to this archive are poems. The most brutal dictators, it seems, fear poetry. I recall a Romanian friend who was imprisoned as a teenager for reading a poem. Her father was able to get her released after five days; her classmate who had written the poem served five years. For a poem about the beauty of the land.
In Nicaragua today, poets and their readers take similar risks.