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Sergiy Kurbatov

Sergiy Kurbarov, ca. 2020
Photo from
Ulitka website

Sergiy Kurbatov (Sergiy Voloymyrovych Kurbatov [Ukrainian Cyrillic Сергiй Володимирович Курбатов] or Sergey Vladimirovich Kurbatov [Russian Cyrillic Сергей Владимирович Курбатов], born August 21, 1971, Sumy, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, U.S.S.R.; died June 2, 2023, Kyiv, Ukraine), educational philosopher and historian, professor and administrator at the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine, author, and haiku poet. He placed his Russian-language haiku in national and international publications from 2006 and participated in several international haiku conferences, notably those of the World Haiku Association in Lithuania, Japan, and Italy. He last resided in Kyiv, Ukraine.


The Name, Early Life, and Professional Accomplishments

Sergiy Volodymyrovych Kurbatov was born August 21, 1971, in Sumy, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, U.S.S.R.) Sumy is located in the northeast of Ukraine, some 50 km from the Russian border. Ethnically the population is approximately 80 percent Ukrainian and 20 percent Russian. Kurbatov was Russian but spoke both languages. For his educational and professional positions in Sumy and Kyiv he usually gave his name in Ukrainian: Sergiy (pronounced “Serhiy”) Voloymyrovych Kurbatov (Сергiй Володимирович Курбатов). His academic publications were signed using the language in which the article appeared, while those in English were signed ”Sergii Kurbatov,” as were his haikai in English translation. Early in his haiku career he sometimes used the nom de plume К Сергеев (K Sergeev).

From 1989 he was enrolled in the History Faculty of Sumy State A. S. Makarenko Pedagogical University (Сумський державний педагогічний інститут ім. А. С. Макаренка), graduating in 1994. His undergraduate studies focused on history and methodology of education and the English language.

From 1994 to 1996, he worked as an assistant at the Department of Ethics, Aesthetics and History of World and National Culture of the A. S. Makarenko Sumy State Pedagogical University as well as a history and jurisprudence teacher at the classical gymnasium in Sumy.

In 1996 he enrolled at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and received a Doctor of Science in Philosophy in 1999 from the Institute of Higher Education, National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine.

Kurbatov’s most recent position was head of the Department of Leadership and Institutional Development at the Institute of Higher Education of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences. He also served on the board of The Ideology and Politics Journal.

Kurbatov participated in two academic exchange programs funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Regional Scholars Exchange Program at Colorado State University, August–December 1999, and the Junior Faculty Development Fellowship Program at Brown University, August 2003–June 2004. In March–April 2017 he was a visiting fellow at the Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice of the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, University of Uppsala, Sweden. He also participated in high-profile international conferences, including the World Sociological Congress (2014, Yokohama, Japan); Annual Conference of the British Association for East European Studies (2012 and 2015, Cambridge, Great Britain), and others.

From 2010 until his death, Kurbatov was employed by Institute of Higher Education of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine in positions that included senior researcher, chief researcher, and department head.

Kurbatov and Haiku

Kurbatov began publishing haiku in Russian-language journals and internationally in 2006. He wrote almost exclusively in Russian and was a frequent contributor to Ulitka (Улитка; Snail) from the first and second issues (2006):

Метель утихла—
снежная баба
поправилась.   


В небо глядел бы,
Перемешав облака
Веточкой вишни …


Почувствовал
Куда уходят сны—
Река в тумане
The storm ends—
our snow-woman
has gotten fatter.1


I’d look at the sky
Stirring the clouds
With a cherry branch2


I sense
Where dreams go—
River in fog3

Kurbatov came under the influence of Japanese haiku proponent Ban’ya Natsuishi, joined Ban’ya’s World Haiku Association, and attended three WHA international haiku conferences and festivals. First was the 5th World Haiku Association Conference in Druskininkai, Lithuania, held jointly with the 20th Poetic Fall Festival in September–October 2009. One of the poet’s entries in the anonymous haiku competition won a Fifth Place award. Kurbatov also participated in the public post-conference reading at St. Catherine’s Church in Vilnius. These haiku of his were featured on both occasions:


букет из астр—
нелепый мотылёк
за гранью лета


вдруг захотелось
с прошлым расстаться легко—
ласточки в небе

the bunch of asters—
unexpected butterfly
beyond the summer 4


so easy to say
farewell to the past—
the swallows in the sky5
Ban’ya Natsuishi and Sergiy Kurbatov reading at
the 8th World Haiku Association Conference, Tokyo,
August 2015. Photo from Ulitka 13 (Autumn 2015)

Kurbatov traveled to Tokyo to attend the 8th World Haiku Association Conference, September 4– 6, 2015. He wrote up his experiences in an article in Ulitka titled “In the World of Haiku: The View from Tokyo.”

He also attended the 9th World Haiku Association Conference in Parma, Italy, September 8–10, 2017, and wrote a report complete with 10 color photos for Ulitka, “Haiku Landscapes in Italian Interpretation (Notes from a Participant of the Ninth Conference of the World Haiku Association).…”

Kurbatov’s haikai have been translated into English, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Japanese. Ban’ya accepted two or three of his haiku for hisWorld Haiku annuals beginning in 2011. Here are some of the stronger haiku from this publication:6

открытая терраса
лунный свет
на дне бокала


дачный роман
пахнет яблоками
пустая корзина


любимый клён
пересчитываю
не опавшие листья


течение жизни
ищу своё место
после дождя


там на вершине
не осталось пустоты
вернулось эхо


и мы упадем
в эту землю однажды
капли дождя
an open terrace
the light of the moon is sparkling
at the bottom of a glass7


Only an empty basket
With the smell of apples
A brief love story8


my favorite maple tree
attends to the leaves
not fallen off yet9


drops of life
where is my own place
after the rain?10


there is no emptiness
even at the top of the mountain
the echo returned11


we would also fall
in this land one day
the drops of rain12

English versions of haiku of Kurbatov’s were also anthologized in Bruce Ross’s A Vast Sky (2015) and Santosh Kumar’s Haiku: A Concise Anthology (2018). Editor Jim Kacian selected a haiku of Kurbatov’s for the collection “Poets of One or Two of a Kind” in the Haiku Around the World feature on The Haiku Foundation website:


млечный путь
ставлю многоточие
в самом начале

the milky way
putting three dots
at the very beginning13

Kurbatov prepared “A Brief History of Haiku in Ukraine” for World Haiku, the WHA journal, in 2017 and was preparing a similar article for Haikupedia at the time of his death.

Kurbatov did not often enter haiku contests, but he did so in 2021 and won an honorable mention (дипломант) in the Traditional Haiku section, 13th International Competition for Haiku in the Russian Language(13. Международный Конкурс Хайку на Русском Языке) with this haiku:

жил-был автор —
накрыта старым пледом
пишущая машинка
once there was an author …
his typewriter covered up
with an old lap robe

An Appreciation

This haiku, one of the ones that was read at the WHA conference in Lithuania (see above), was selected by Ban’ya Natsuishi forWorld Haiku7 (2011) and selected for commentary by Nicholas Klacsanzky on his blog Haiku Commentary, January 8, 2018 (in English only):

вдруг захотелось
с прошлым расстаться легко—
ласточки в небе
so easy to say
farewell to the past—
the swallows in the sky

On the same blog, Pakistani poet Hifsa Ashraf interpreted Kurbatov’s verse as follows: “the poet is actually passing through an intense experience where he wants to get rid of his past, but it is not very easy. ‘The swallows’ may indicate their murmuration in the sky that takes many shapes and may trigger some painful memories in this context.” Klacsanzky added, “A strong haiku in terms of meaning, sound, punctuation, and pacing. The poet has written about something local, yet universal.”

Not unexpectedly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the spring of 2022 was a great concern for Kurbatov, especially since both his hometown of Sumy (so close to the Russian border) and his city of residence, Kyiv, were early and persistent targets of Russian attacks. The following haiku of Kurbatov’s were read (in English) as part of a presentation on Ukrainian haiku at the February 9, 2023, session of the Hailstone Haiku Group, Kyoto, and published on the group’s website:

Sounds of shots
riddling the spaces
between words


Crossing an empty street
hiding from the sky


Baptised by darkness—
childhood town’s lights
hit by missiles14

Kurbatov was an enthusiastic world traveler and regularly posted his tourist photos, as well as visual records of meetings with colleagues and professional associates, on social media until just days before his death. The same was true of haiku; Sergiy Kurbatov was publishing one haiku a day on Facebook throughout May 2023. Here is a sampling of that work:

изнанка жизни —
на осколках времени
наши судьбы


неумолимо 
проходит наше время
сквозь этот вечер


в начале было —
сейчас так трудно вспомнить
твои слова

the surprise of life —
on the fragments of time
our destinies15


our time passes 
relentlessly 
through this evening16


in the beginning was—
so hard to remember these days
your words17

Kurbatov died suddenly on June 2, 2023, in Kyiv, of a stroke and cerebral edema.

Author: Charles Trumbull


Sources / Further Reading

Publications of or about Kurbatov’s haiku

  • Kurbatov, Sergey. “В мире хайку: взгляд из Токио” (In the World of Haiku: The View from Tokyo), World Haiku Association website: http://www.worldhaiku.net/WHAC8/WHA8_Kurbatov.pdf. Report on the 8th World Haiku Association Conference, Tokyo, 2015; 10 color photos.
  • Kurbatov, Sergey. Паломничество в страну слова: Стихи, эссе, хайку (Pilgrimage to the Land of the Word: Poems, Essays, Haiku). 2013?
  • Kurbatov, Sergey. “Ландшафты хайку в итальянской интерпретации (Заметки участника Девятой конференции Всемирной ассоциации хайку (WHAC 9), Парма, Италия, 8–10 сентября 2017 года)” (Haiku Landscapes in Italian Interpretation (Notes from a Participant in the Ninth Conference of the World Haiku Association (WHAC 9), Parma, Italy, September 8–10, 2017)).” Улитка [Ulitka] 17 (Autumn 2017), 32–34. Reprinted on the WHA website: http://www.worldhaiku.net/WHAC8/WHA8_Kurbatov.pdf. 10 color photos.
  • Kurbatov, Sergiy. “A Brief History of Haiku in Ukraine.” World Haiku 13 (2017), 87–91. 

Kurbatov’s work in anthologies and annuals

  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 7 (2011). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 9 (2013). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 10 (2014). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 11 (2015). 2 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 12 (2016). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 13 (2017). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 14 (2018). 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 15 (2019. 3 haiku.
  • Ban’ya Natsuishi, ed., World Haiku 16 (2020). 3 haiku.
  • Ross, Bruce, Kōko Katō, Dietmar Tauchner, and Patricia Prime, eds. A Vast Sky: An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku. Bangor, Maine: Tancho Press, 2015. 1 haiku.

Works about Sergiy Kurbatov

  • Member, World Haiku Association.
  • Listed as donor to Haikumena, issue 2, 2004 (as K.Sergeev).
  • Participated, World Haiku Association Conference and Druskininkai Poetic Fall 2009 in Lithuania.
  • Participated in the 8th World Haiku Association Conference, Tokyo, 2015.
  • Participated in the 9th World Haiku Association Conference, Parma, Italy, September 8–10, 2017.
  • Member, panel of judges, 3rd Contest for Haiku on a Given Theme (http://aromat-vostoka.haiku-do.com/russ/konkurs3.htm).

Awards and Honors

  • 2nd Contest for Haiku on a Given Theme (“Old New Year”), Grand Prize: Best Haiku of Competition (as K. Sergeev).
  • 3rd Contest for Haiku on a Given Theme (“Let’s talk about dogs …”), One of Top 13 Haiku.
  • 13th International Competition for Haiku in the Russian Language, 2021, Traditional Haiku section, Honorable Mention (дипломант).

Notes

  1. Ulitka 1 (2006); English version by Zhanna P. Rader. []
  2. Ulitka 2 (2006); original versions in English were provided by the Ulika staff; the versions for these two haiku are retranslations by C. Trumbull. []
  3. Ulitka 2 (2006). []
  4. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLaNI1E9LTU. This haiku appeared in Bruce Ross et al., eds., A Vast Sky (2015), 101, in a slightly different translation. []
  5. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5z7omI-l58; YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5z7omI-l58;
    World Haiku 7 (2011); and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5z7omI-l58; and Nicholas Klacsanzky, “Sergiy Kurbatov’s Swallows,” Haiku Commentary, January 8, 2018. []
  6. English versions by the World Haiku staff. []
  7. World Haiku 2013, No. 9 (2013). []
  8. World Haiku 2014, No. 10 (2014). []
  9. World Haiku 2015, No. 11 (2015). []
  10. World Haiku 13 (2017). []
  11. World Haiku 14 (2018). []
  12. World Haiku 16 (2020). []
  13. The Russian version originally appeared in Ulitka 12 (Spring 2015), Haiku 12 (2016), and still later in Сергей Курбатов (1971–2023)” [Sergey Kurbatov (1971–2023)].” Haiku-Do: Сообщество русских хайку (June 4, 2023). The second line might better be translated “I place an ellipsis.” []
  14. Icebox, February 21, 2023. The Russian originals were not provided. []
  15. Facebook, May 23, 2023. Automatic translations by Facebook. []
  16. Facebook, May 29, 2023. []
  17. Facebook, May 30, 2023. Automatic translations by Facebook. []
Updated on August 16, 2023