In 1964 she graduated from the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv and published her first book of essays Bukovyna Ballads. She is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Solo for Sofia (1965), Self-Portrait in Red (1971), A Window into the Garden (1978), Concert for a Violin and a Grass-Hopper (1979), Market of Wonders (1982), The Last Street Organ-Grinder (1985), The Girl at the Ball (1987) Tea Ceremony (1987), An Evening Party in an Old Winery (1994) and Seasons (1999). She also wrote short stories and poetry for children.
In 1987 she received the Volodymyr Sosiura Literary Prize and was granted the Taras Shevchenko State Prize for her work for her collection of poetry Verchirka u starii vynarni (An Evening Party in an Old Winery).
English translations by Gladys Evans of her poems appeared in the Anthology of Soviet Ukrainian Poetry published in Kyiv in 1982. Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps translated her poem “In the Country House” and Yara Arts Group performed it as part of its Spinning Spells: Poetry in Performance series. http://www.brama.com/yara/zhy2.html This translation was published in In a Different Light: A Bilingual Anthology of Ukrainian Literature Translated into English by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps and Performed by Yara Arts Group, edited by Olha Luchuk.
- "Żyłenko Iryna". Internetowa encyklopedia PWN. Retrieved 2007-03-17.
- Iryna Zhylenko's obituary (Ukrainian)
- "The Ukrainian Arts Monitor". 1996-03-12.
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