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Market Day
by Norman Sigurdson

THE PREFACE to this anthology tells us that yarmarok is the Ukrainian word for "fair" or "marketplace," the name given to "the noisy gathering of peasant farmers, artisans, pedlars and townspeople in a clearing or public square." This is an apt title for this varied collection of writings by Ukrainian Canadians over the past four decades. just as at the old country yarmarok, where you would find the tinker next to the acrobats or the fish pedlar next to the Gypsy fortune?teller, this yarmarok makes for some pretty diverse mingling from which to choose.

You can, if your fancy leads you, sample a postmodernist poem by Andrew Suknaski, or step into the next tent for a turgid short story about the First World War available in English translation for the first time. Or cross the square for an essay by Myrna Kostash about a Ukrainian dissident's visit to Edmonton, or sample an excerpt from a play by George Ryga. You are unlikely to be attracted by everything you see, but you should find something to satisfy you,

The editors say that their main aim in preparing this anthology was to "provide English?speaking Canadians with a glimpse into a dynamic literary subculture hitherto accessible only to readers of Ukrainian." But "English?speaking Canadians" of course, could also apply to many third? or fourth?generation Ukrainian Canadians whose grasp of the Ukrainian language does not go as far as the reading of literature. In some ways this anthology, which was prepared by the Ukrainian writers' association, Slovo, most of whose members are over 60 years old, is a bridge between two generations ? the old writers making the world of their generation accessible to their children and grandchildren.

Indeed, of the two editors of the anthology, one, Yuri Klynovy (the pen?name of George Stefanyk), who initiated the project, was born in the Ukraine in 1909 (he died in 1985) and the other, Jars Balan, who undertook most of the translation work, was born in Toronto in 1952. The selections in the book are about equally divided between the older, mostly immigrant generation who wrote in Ukrainian, and the present generation of writers of Ukrainian descent whose mother tongue is English.

The editors admit that they have attempted to include a wide selection of representative writers, and therefore some of the pieces in the anthology will be "primarily of historical or sociological value, and only secondarily of aesthetic interest." Some of the pieces, however, such as the selections from the novels of Ulas Samchuk, will make readers wish that more of them were available in translation.

Much of the writing of this emigre generation is semi?autobiographical and tinged with a nostalgia for the homeland from which they are exiled. Nicholas Prychodko's "Good?bye Siberia," for example, is a tender story of a young boy torn from his home and sent into the Soviet gulag that is representative of the grim, rather melancholy retrospection seen in many of the stories and expressed in a poem by Volodymyr Skorupsky:

From Eden into exile we went,
When the angels failed to guard the apples,
And the serpent, which was curled among the. branches,
Did not recoil a single step from Adam,
And Eve, craving languid love,

Shattered heaven's silence without regret.

The editors point to Vera Lysenko, the first Ukrainian Canadian to become a successful writer in the English language, as the bridge between those writers of her generation who worked in Ukrainian and the next generation of UkrainianCanadian writers, nearly? all, of whom write solely in English. After Lysenko there followed a group of writers born in Canada in the decade or so before the Second World War, such as. Maara Haas, Myrna Kostash, George Ryga, and Andrew Suknaski, whose works are represented here.

Also represented is a younger generation of writers, most of whom are now in their mid?30s and who are beginning to establish their reputations: Janice Kulyk Keefer, Ray Serwylo, Helen Potrebenko, and playwright Ted Galay among others. Their work is somewhat harder to generalize about, since their work is much less influenced by, or concerned with, ethnic identity than that of their parents' or grandparents' generations.

The selections in Yarmarok are arranged alphabetically by author, and a section at the back of the book provides biographical and bibliographical information on the 49 contributors. This arrangement lends itself well to browsing, allowing the reader to wander between, the tents and booths of various generations and talents. Yarmarok is a handsomely produced and highly commendable effort.


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