Ukrainian literature exhibits smuggled to compete at CAPEX

By Jesse Robitaille

With the help of a Toronto man, two Ukrainian philatelic authors have smuggled their books from the war-torn country and shipped them to Canada just in time for CAPEX 22.

In addition to more than 400 single-frame exhibits, the June 9-12 international show in Toronto will feature a literature competition with 100-plus entries across seven print and digital categories. Until recently, none of the exhibits were slated to come from Ukraine, where a renewed Russian invasion has killed several thousand civilians and forced millions of refugees to flee the country since late February.

In a conversation this spring with Oleksandr Zharivskyi, one of the Ukrainian authors he has known for a decade, Toronto collector Jerry Kalyn “was lamenting the fact that there were no entries from Ukraine because of the war.”

“He then informed me of his new book that was being printed as we spoke,” said Kalyn, the president of the U.S.-based Ukrainian Philatelic & Numismatic Society (UPNS). “Incredibly, the book was being printed as missiles fly overhead and air raid sirens screamed. Life continues to go on in parts of Ukraine that are outside of the heavy fighting. Everyone adapts.”

Zharivskyi’s Catalog of Envelopes of the Publishing House Dyvosvit, which highlights the covers issued by Dyvosit over three decades, focuses on significant historical events, dates and individuals in Ukraine (including some topics not covered by official issues from Ukrposhta, the country’s national postal service).

Kalyn also recalled Petro Korpanyuk, another Ukrainian author to whom he was introduced in 2021, had recently published My Native Land, which won the Ukrainian culture and tourism ministry’s V.M. Hnatiuk Award “for the preservation and protection of intangible cultural heritage.” The book highlights Ukrainian postcards dating from 1900-39 and featuring folk culture, nature, crafts, urban architecture, landscapes and inhabitants of the country’s Hutsul, Pokuttia, Boykivshchyna and Opilla regions.

“I then had the thought, ‘Why not enter the two books in the literature competition?’” said Kalyn, who added he contacted CAPEX organizers, “and the rest is history.”

Both books will now compete at this June’s international show after a last-minute effort to bring them from Ukraine to Canada just weeks before the event.

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