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Borys Shkandrij (pseudonym Bohdan Bora) was born on 11 April 1920 in the village of Pavlivka (Pavelche), near Ivano-Frankivsk (Stanislaviv), Ukraine (then part of Poland). He died on 20 August 1997 in Leeds, England. He was married to Olha nee Poloziuk (1923-2004) and they had two sons, Myroslav (b. 1950) and Oleh (b. 1954).
In his youth, Borys Shkandrij attended the Ukrainian high-school in Ivano-Frankivsk, taught schoolchildren in Pavlivka, acted in the local village theatre and wrote for the village newspaper. Most of his siblings died during the Second World War. An older brother Zakhar was imprisoned after the war, supposedly for giving food to insurrectionists (the UPA), and died in an uprising in the a Soviet concentration camp in the mid-1950s. The uprising was put down when tanks were sent in and he was one of the prisoners crushed. Borys volunteered for the Ukrainian Division Galicia (Halychyna) after the first formation of this division had been destroyed in the battle of Brody in July 1944. He attended training camp in Germany and was attached to the division as it retreated toward Italy. He spent the rest of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in Rimini, Italy, and then in Selby, Yorkshire, England, and was released in 1949.
In England he worked in textile factories, often working night shifts for six days a week. He was for several years inspector of community-based Ukrainian schools in the United Kingdom, which gave lessons on Saturdays or Sundays, and he authored a textbook on teaching methodology for these schools (1970). In addition he wrote several articles for the London-based Ukrainian newspaper Dumka (Thought) and his poetry was often published in both Dumka and in the Munich-based Vyzvol’nyi shliakh (Liberation Path). However, he never joined the OUN(B) party that ran these newspapers and turned down the offer of editing their newspaper Dumka.
Borys Shkandrij is best known as a poet who wrote under the pseudonym Bohdan Bora. His first two books of poetry appeared in the Rimini prisoner-of-war camp in 1946. These were later republished, but with some changes to the originals, in his collection Buremni dni (Turbulent Times, 1982). A second book of poetry Tverd’ i nizhnist’ (Hard and Soft, 1972) contains poetry written in postwar emigration. Much of the poetry from the last twenty-five years of his life has not been collected or published.
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Leeds, United Kingdom
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University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
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Created by Orest Martynowych March 2016.