Biography of Leo Yankevich
an American poet and the editor of The New Formalist.
Born into a Roman Catholic family of Irish-Polish descent, he grew up and attended high school in Farrell, Pennsylvania, a small steel town in western Pennsylvania. He then studied History and Polish Studies at Alliance College, Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, receiving a BA in 1984. Later that year he travelled to Poland on a fellowship from the Kosciuszko Foundation to attend Kraków's Jagiellonian University. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, he decided to settle in Poland. Since 2013 he has lived in Pittsburgh, PA.
Yankevich writes poems in both traditional metre and in syllabics, and only occasionally in free verse. He is a prolific translator, having rendered into English poems by Mikhail Lermontov, Georg Trakl, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stanislaw Grochowiak, Czeslaw Milosz, Alexander Blok, Leopold Staff, Nikolay Gumilev, Boleslaw Lesmian, and many others. He has a large Internet presence with work published in scores of online publications, ranging from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to Poets Against War.
Leo Yankevich's Works:
The Language of Birds; Pygmy Forest Press,1994
Grief's Herbs (translations after the Polish of Stanislaw Grochowiak) : The Mandrake Press,1995
The Gnosis of Gnomes; The Mandrake Press,1995
Epistle from The Dark; The Mandrake Press,1996
The Golem of Gleiwitz; The Mandrake Press,1998
The Unfinished Crusade; The Mandrake Press,2000
The Last Silesan; The Mandrake Press,2005
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Leo Yankevich Poems
Apollo’s Archaic Torso
(after the German of Rainer Maria Rilke) We have no knowledge of his ancient brow where pippins ripen. Yet his torso gleams,
A December Wish
You hear the sound of carols from afar. Bright bulbs and tinsel, cinnamon and cloves. Beyond a hill of snow you see a star.
A Warning to Dissidents
Yes, pretty soon now they’ll be at your door. They’ve orders and a warrant after all. It doesn’t matter. You’ll be on the floor, your wife and children having watched you fall.
A Tiny Glow
Without the moon or stars to guide his sight, without a glint from shanties down below, he rested on the foggy hill that night, and begged the heavens for a tiny glow.
At a Suicide’s Grave(1869-1897)
After 20 Years of Marriage
Here is a river with a little boat moored beside its bank. The boat's the colour of oranges in the south of Greece, all bloody and ripe with sweetness, while the bank's the colour
Break of Dawn
I rise at the break of dawn, still dreaming, half awake, wondering whether I’m gone; but, the sun on the lake,
After the Old Masters
The father looks up to the sky or ceiling (beyond the grey scale of the photograph) with his son wrapped inside his cradling arms. An orderly obscures the boy’s midsection,
An Autumn Evening
(after the German of Georg Trakl) The brown village. A darkness often treads Along the walls that stand in autumn. Mock-
Baroque Nativity Scene
Malachite of tower and dome, clatter of sabots, creaks of wheels, neighs of horses headed home from a market where smoked eels
Milk curdles in her jar, mould forms on her black bread. She’s come so very far, but her blue Polish eyes
A Plurality of Worlds
Intensities of pain— of those once persecuted and those once executed.
Perhaps there’s mercy in the skies, although the Spaniards have seen none. The tears of horror in their eyes reflect the fury of the sun
A Hater Learns About Love
After a long night of interrogation, followed by a thirty-minute trial, there was no doubt about it: I was guilty.
A Warning to Dissidents
Yes, pretty soon now they’ll be at your door.
They’ve orders and a warrant after all.
It doesn’t matter. You’ll be on the floor,
your wife and children having watched you fall.
Just then you’ll notice fallen scraps and crumbs,
the beauty of your startled wife’s pale feet,
the Celtic Crosses on your daughter’s thumbs,
the food above that you will never eat.