If their history together hadn’t begun this way,
they both would have been left alone, each with their war.
August—hellish, the bathhouse filled with bodies.
She squeezes the familiar palm and comes to life again.
Everything that has happened and didn’t happen to them,
is established, set in stone, unforgettable,
—You Are Now Interacting as Yourself
—The Subject Line
—An Empire in the Ground
You Are Now Interacting As Yourself By TINA CANE
Sheila had IHOP delivered to her apartment in El Alto, NY
on January 6th so she could kick back self-proclaimed terrorist
that she is and eat pancakes while watching white supremacists
storm the Capital on T.V. a coup
The minibus stops in the middle of the road and the driver opens the door, he says something in Russian which I take to mean I need to get off. I begin to walk on a red dirt road that meanders down, and in front of me, the vastness of the Crimean terrain opens up, splotches of yellow overgrown grass, young bushes and wildflowers, the quiet dark sea in the distance.
I ask Half-awake Is poetry possible At the moment history stirs Once its steps Reverberate through every heart?
— From “Can there be poetry after” by Anastasia Afanasieva, translated by Kevin Vaughn and Maria Khotimsky
With the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, we at The Common have been reflecting on the powerful words of many Ukrainian poets who have appeared in our pages. In recent years their work has been rooted in conflict, as the country struggled first with self-determination and later with the Russian annexation of Crimea and, since 2014, with a Russian-incited war in the East. This focus lends a feeling of prescience and timeliness to their work now, even though most of these poems are not new. We hope you’ll make time to read and reflect on the work of these poets, as we all keep Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in our thoughts.
Is Poetry Possible at the Moment History Stirs: Poets of Ukraine
I feel greedy, I have a frog in my throat because of this
expensive beer. I start to ask around, like a detective,
and immediately get some info
from the writer sitting at our table nearby,
whom I got to know just now. The house of Ashbery has likely mahogany doors facing
the square, probably where city hall is. I don’t even think about visiting without letting someone know first. I stop and read a few poems in a bookshop.
You won’t repeat the jokes, I say,
you’ll go around to all the apartments on Halloween with pumpkins, like I used to do
in my childhood, but then the main thing was trick or treat, not to force someone for an interview or a photograph.
Ukrainian poets have long connected themselves to the powerful myth of New York, offering various takes on its aura of urban modernity, its problematic vitality. New York Elegies demonstrates how evocations of New York City are connected to various stylistic modes and topical questions urgent to Ukrainian poetry throughout the past hundred years.