Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine

Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine

37.00

Edited by Oksana Maksymchuk & Max Rosochinsky
with an introduction by Ilya Kaminsky and an afterword by Polina Barskova

Series: Ukrainian Studies
ISBN: 9781618116666 (Cloth)
Pages: 242 pp.; 16 illus. (color)
Publication Date: October 2017

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The armed conflict in the east of Ukraine brought about an emergence of a distinctive trend in contemporary Ukrainian poetry: the poetry of war. Directly and indirectly, the poems collected in this volume engage with the events and experiences of war, reflecting on the themes of alienation, loss, dislocation, and disability; as well as justice, heroism, courage, resilience, generosity, and forgiveness. In addressing these themes, the poems also raise questions about art, politics, citizenship, and moral responsibility. The anthology brings together some of the most compelling poetic voices from different regions of Ukraine. Young and old, female and male, somber and ironic, tragic and playful, filled with extraordinary terror and ordinary human delights, the voices recreate the human sounds of war in its tragic complexity.


Oksana Maksymchuk is an author of two award-winning books of poetry in the Ukrainian language, and a recipient of Richmond Lattimore and Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender translation prizes. She works on problems of cognition and motivation in Plato’s moral psychology. Maksymchuk teaches philosophy at the University of Arkansas.

Max Rosochinsky is a poet and translator from Simferopol, Crimea. His poems had been nominated for the PEN International New Voices Award in 2015. With Maksymchuk, he won first place in the 2014 Brodsky-Spender competition. His academic work focuses on twentieth century Russian poetry, especially Osip Mandelshtam and Marina Tsvetaeva.


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Table of Contents

Preface
Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky

Introduction: “Barometers” 
Ilya Kaminsky

ANASTASIA AFANASIEVA
she says we don’t have the right kind of basement in our building
You whose inner void
from Cold
She Speaks
On TV the news showed
from The Plain Sense of Things
Untitled
Can there be poetry after 

VASYL HOLOBORODKO
No Return
I Fly Away in the Shape of a Dandelion Seed
The Dragon Hillforts
I Pick up my Footprints 

BORYS HUMENYUK
Our platoon commander is a strange fellow
These seagulls over the battlefield
When HAIL rocket launchers are firing
Not a poem in forty days
An old mulberry tree near Mariupol
When you clean your weapon
A Testament 

YURI IZDRYK
Darkness Invisible
Make Love 

ALEKSANDR KABANOV
This is a post on Facebook, and this, a block post in the East
How I love — out of harm’s way
A Former Dictator
He came first wearing a t-shirt inscribed “Je suis Christ” 
In the garden of Gethsemane on the Dnieper river
A Russian tourist is on vacation
Fear is a form of the good
Once upon a time, a Jew says to his prisoner, his Hellenic foe 

KATERYNA KALYTKO
They won’t compose any songs, because the children of their children
April 6
This loneliness could have a name, an Esther or a Miriam
Home is still possible there, where they hang laundry out to dry
He Writes
Can great things happen to ordinary people? 

LYUDMYLA KHERSONSKA
Did you know that if you hide under a blanket and pull it over your head
How to describe a human other than he’s alone
The whole soldier doesn’t suffer
A country in the shape of a puddle, on the map
Buried in a human neck, a bullet looks like a eye, sewn in
that’s it: you yourself choose how you live
I planted a camellia in the yard
One night, a humanitarian convoy arrived in her dream
When a country of — overall — nice people
Leave me alone, I’m crying. I’m crying, let me be
the enemy never ends
every seventh child of ten — he’s a shame
you really don’t remember Grandpa — but let’s say you do 

BORIS KHERSONSKY
explosions are the new normal, you grow used to them
all for the battlefront which doesn’t really exist
people carry explosives around the city
way too long the artillery and the tanks stayed silent in their hangars
when wars are over we just collapse
modern warfare is too large for the streets
my brother brought war to our crippled home
Bessarabia, Galicia, 1913–1939 Pronouncements 

MARIANNA KIYANOVSKA
I believed before
in a tent like in a nest
we swallowed an air like earth
I wake up, sigh, and head off to war
The eye, a bulb that maps its own bed
Their tissue is coarse, like veins in a petal
Things swell closed. It’s delicious to feel how fully
Naked agony begets a poison of poisons 

HALYNA KRUK
A Woman Named Hope
like a blood clot, something catches him in the rye
someone stands between you and death
like a bullet, the Lord saves those who save themselves 

OKSANA LUTSYSHYNA
eastern europe is a pit of death and decaying plums
don’t touch live flesh
he asks — don’t help me
I Dream of Explosions 

VASYL MAKHNO
February Elegy
War Generation
On War
On Apollinaire 

MARJANA SAVKA
We wrote poems
Forgive me, darling, I’m not a fighter
january pulled him apart

OSTAP SLYVYNSKY
Lovers on a Bicycle
Lieutenant
Alina
1918
Kicking the Ball in the Dark
Story (2) 
Latifa
A Scene from 2014
Orpheus 

LYUBA YAKIMCHUK
Died of Old Age
How I Killed
Caterpillar
Decomposition
He Says Everything Will Be Fine
Eyebrows
Funeral Services
Crow, Wheels
Knife 

SERHIY ZHADAN
from Stones
    “We speak of the cities we lived in . . .” 
    “Now we remember: janitors and the night-sellers of bread . . .” 
from Why I’m not on Social Media
    Needle
    Headphones
    Sect
    Rhinoceros
    They buried him last winter
Three Years Now We’ve Been Talking about the War
    “A guy I know volunteered . . .”  
    “Three years now we’ve been talking about the war . . .” 
    “So that’s what their family is like now . . .” 
    “Sun, terrace, lots of green . . .”
    “The street. A woman zigzags the street . . .” 
    “Village street – gas line’s broken . . .” 
    “At least now, my friend says . . .” 
Thirty-Two Days Without Alcohol
Take Only What Is Most Important
A city where she ended up hiding 

Afterword: “On Decomposition and Rotten Plums: Language of War in Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry”
Polina Barskova

Authors
Translators
Glossary
Geographical Locations and Places of Significance
Notes to Poems
Acknowledgements
Acknowledgement of Prior Publications