All posts tagged: Ukraine

On Halloween

By VASYL LOZYNSKY

Translated by the author and JESSICA ZYCHOWICZ

Hudson, NY

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.

On Halloween
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November 2018 Poetry Feature: New York Elegies

New York Elegies Cover

This month we offer you selections from New York Elegies: Ukrainian Poems on the City, edited by TC contributor, Ostap Kin, forthcoming from Academic Studies Press.

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.

November 2018 Poetry Feature: New York Elegies
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September 2017 Poetry Feature

This month The Common brings you a selection from the anthology WORDS FOR WAR, NEW POEMS FROM UKRAINE, edited by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, forthcoming next month from Academic Studies Press.

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.

ANASTASIA AFANASIEVA  |  “Can there be poetry after:”

BORYS HUMENYUK  |  “Our platoon commander is a strange fellow”

ALEKSANDR KABANOV  |  “He came first wearing a t-shirt inscribed ‘Je suis Christ,’”

KATERYNA KALYTKO   |  “April 6”

LYUDMYLA KHERSONSKA  |  “When a country of — overall — nice people”

SERHIY ZHADAN  |  “Third Year into the War”

September 2017 Poetry Feature
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Lviv, Ukraine

By AMBER LOUISE HOOD

Lviv opera house

A marshrutka is kind of a bus but mostly a van, and at full capacity it can carry 10 people from Brody to Lviv. There were 20 passengers in the marshrutka that day. Garrard looked at me and got a thin paperback novel out of his satchel. “It will be at least two hours on this shrutskie today for sure,” he said. He stood hunched over the van’s middle seat and then asked if I wanted some pills.

Garrard is a friend who will stand for two hours so that I can sit. Ours is an intimate friendship wherein I can blindly trust the handful of mystery pills soaked in his palm sweat he gives me. I swallowed the damp pills, a metallic taste lingering on my tongue.

Lviv, Ukraine
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Thirty-Two Days Without Alcohol

By SERHIY ZHADAN

Translated by OSTAP KIN

A good day is a day
without bad news.
Sometimes everything turns out fine—
no news,
no fiction.

Three thousand steps to the supermarket
frozen chickens
like dead stars
gleam after death.

All you need is
mineral water,
I only
need my mineral water.
Execs, like
frozen chickens,
are hatching
the eggs
of profit
in the twilight.

Three thousand steps back.
All I need to do is hold on
to my mineral water,
to hold on to
the countdown:
thirty-two days without alcohol
thirty-three days without alcohol
thirty-four days without alcohol.

Birds perch on each of my shoulders,
and the one on the left keeps repeating:
thirty-two days without alcohol
thirty-three days without alcohol
thirty-four days without alcohol.

And the one on the right responds:
twenty-eight days till a bender
twenty-seven days till a bender
twenty-six days till a bender.

And the one on the left is drinking the blood of Christ
from a silver chalice.
And the one on the right—the simpler one—
is drinking some crap,
some diet coke.

On top of that
they’re both drinking
on my tab.

 

[Purchase Issue 12 here.]

Serhiy Zhadan, Ukrainian poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator, was born in the Luhansk region in 1974 and has published over a dozen books. In 2014 he received the Ukrainian BBC’s Book of the Decade Award; he won the Ukrainian BBC’s Book of the Year Award in 2006 and in 2010. He’s the recipient of the Hubert Burda Prize for Young Poets (Austria, 2006) and the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature (Switzerland, 2014).

Ostap Kin has published work in St. Petersburg Review and Krytyka Magazine. He lives in New York City.

Thirty-Two Days Without Alcohol
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2007-2010

By GARRARD CONLEY

I arrived by evening train from Kyiv, the trees along the tracks slicing through orange light outside my window, an erratic metronome whose meter would set the pace for my three years as a Peace Corps ESL teacher in the village town of Radyvyliv. There would be long camp days with my students stretching into what would feel like weeks, winter flu quarantine days when I would stay indoors to write bad prose until I fell into a deep sleep as the early morning light broke, hours and hours of reading Gogol by candlelight and trying to conjure up some ghost of lunatic inspiration—but in those first few days of struggling to find a grip on the culture, in those first few hours with my host family, everything arrived and departed at a rapid pace. I knew just enough Ukrainian to know how much more I needed to learn, and how little time I had to learn it before I would begin to look like an idiot. Peace Corps had arranged for me to live with a host family for the first month of my stay before moving to an apartment, and I was terrified of insulting these people with my ignorance of all things Ukrainian.

2007-2010
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