Literature in the time of coronavirus

(From L to R) Nino Ricci, Dr. Lindy Ledohowski, Laisha Rosnau, Matt Bowes, Andriy Hladyshevsky, Q.C.

New Pathway – Ukrainain News.

The Kobzar™ Book Award ceremony took place at Palais Royal in Toronto on March 12, at the very onset of the coronavirus scare. From the conversations in the parking lot and the cloak room to the presentation and acceptance speeches, the threat of the pandemics made itself present.

But it failed to cast a shadow over the elegant ceremony that celebrated literary works which “would have stood proudly on any prize shortlist”, as one of this year’s jurors and the award’s honorary patron Nino Ricci put it. Because only those who love literature more than they fear COVID-19 came to the presentation (and they also stayed socially responsible by using the abundantly available hand sanitizer and avoiding handshaking and close contact – stricter physical distancing was not yet widely introduced).

The speakers, from MC Mark Marczyk (leader of The Lemon Bucket Orkestra) to Shevchenko Foundation’s President Andriy Hladyshevsky, Q.C., to the shortlisted authors – all thanked those who came to support the Ukrainian Canadian themed literature in these troubling times.

Shevchenko Foundation President, Andriy Hladyshevsky, Q.C. speaks at the Kobzar™ Book Awards ceremony

As Andriy Hladyshevsky, Q.C. said, the Kobzar Award presents books that provide the world the chance to understand the Ukrainian Canadian experience, “the experience that sometimes has very universal values. But we also have a perspective on things, and with these authors, you are going to hear from tonight, you are going to hear those perspectives.”

The shortlisted authors and their works were presented by Mark Marczyk. The presentations were augmented by the beautiful videos, which added to the picture of worlds depicted in the books. The videos were conceptualized and designed by young Ukrainian Canadians, many of whom are Shevchenko Foundation grantees.

The new “Kobzar” statuette designed by Toronto
artist Oleh Lesiuk and unveiled on March 12,
2020 in Toronto

The ceremony featured another artistic surprize, the new Kobzar™ Book Award statuette, designed by renowned Ukrainian Canadian sculptor Oleh Lesiuk. As is the case for many of Lesiuk’s works, his Kobzar is succinct, masterfully crafted, full of grace and inexpressibly Ukrainian.

In what has become a stylish tradition for Kobzar Award ceremonies, the reception included dishes inspired by the shortlisted books and prepared by chef Steffan Howard.

The ceremony was produced by theatre artist and playwright Lianna Makuch of Pyretic Productions.