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A Week with Zhadan (5)

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...)

(A woman walks down the street...)

(Here’s another weird story...)

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

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



On a village street
a gas pipeline has ruptured.
A place of accident, a place of danger.
Emergency services won’t come—
no one wants to drive under shelling.
When you call them—they’re silent,
say nothing,
as if they don’t understand you.

At the store, along with day-old bread,
they sell funeral wreaths.
There’s no one on the street—
almost everyone has gone.

No lines.
Neither for bread,
nor for wreaths.


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.



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