Search the Site

A Week with Zhadan (3)

Serhiy Zhadan, reading in Kharkiv, March 21, 2022

Editor's note: There are many ways to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and to stand for civilization, against barbarism. For the next seven days, we've decided to offer you a poem from Serhiy Zhadan, so that you will think of his words, and of his struggle today in Kharkiv, and of all the other heroic souls whose voices we have not heard, or heard sufficiently, as well as those we will never hear again: "incanting over every single / lost soul."

(To get together and talk...)

(Sun, terrace, lots of green...)

(Here’s another weird story...)

(On a village street...)

(You led the regiments and liberated cities...)

(Who could survive in the Middle Ages?...)




A woman walks down the street.
She stops in front of a store.
She hesitates.
She needs to buy bread.
Buy it now or wait until tomorrow? she wonders.
She reaches for her phone.
Talks with her mother.
Speaks sharply, doesn’t listen,
raises her voice.
She yells as she stands
in front of a shop window.
As if she’s yelling at her own reflection.
She cuts off the conversation, not listening,
and walks down the street cursing
her invisible, and so even more

She cries at some offense from her
and because she can’t forgive her.
She forgets about the bread.
She forgets about everything in the world.
In the morning the first
shelling starts.


Serhiy Zhadan is a Ukrainian poet, writer, essayist and translator. All poems featured here are part of a book of translations by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin published by Lost Horse Press, A New Orthography (2021), co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry 2021 and a finalist for the 2021 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation. English translations of Zhadan’s other work include three books of prose (Depeche Mode, Voroshilovgrad, and Mesopotamia (which also features poetry) and a collection of poetry What We Live for, What We Die For.

John Hennessy is the author of two collections, Coney Island Pilgrims and Bridge and Tunnel, and his poems appear in many journals and anthologies. Hennessy is the poetry editor of The Common, a print magazine based at Amherst College, and he teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Ostap Kin is the editor of New York Elegies: Ukrainian Poems on the City and translator, with Vitaly Chernetsky, of Songs for a Dead Rooster by Yuri Andrukhovych and, with Ali Kinsella, of The Maidan After Hours by Vasyl Lozynsky.



Join the email list for our latest news