Words For War
– New poems from Ukraine –

Digteren Halyna Kruk besøgte dansk PEN i dansk forfatterforenings lokaler sommeren 2022, og talte blandt andet om “nødpoesi”: Den digtning, der behøver at se dagens lys NU – mens tingene sker. Og så må finpudsningen følge.

WORDS FOR WAR er en samling af ukrainske digtere, der skriver op i mod overgrebet fra Rusland. På grund af den langvarige krig har digterne haft tid til reflektion, og på Words For War præsenteres mange af dem og et stort udvalg af digte.


– digter for digter


by Ilya Kaminsky


My family huddled by the doorframe at 4 a.m., debating whether or not to open the door to the stranger wearing only his pajama pants, who’d been pounding on the door for at least five minutes, waking the whole apartment complex. Seeing the light come on, he began shouting through the door.
“Remember me? I helped you haul your refrigerator from Pridnestrovie. Remember? We talked about Pasternak on the drive. Two hours! Tonight they bombed the hospital. My sister is a nurse there. I stole someone’s truck and drove across the border. I don’t know anyone else. Can I make a phone call?”
So the war stepped its shoeless foot into my childhood two decades ago, under the guise of a half-naked man gulping on the phone, victim of an early post-Soviet “humanitarian aid” campaign. …


by Oksana Maksymchuk & Max Rosochinsky

… People living in the midst of war are never abstract “people,” just as the war is never an abstract “war” for them. Equally, the voices collected in this volume do not belong to some abstract “poets.” These words come from specific people who dwell in a specific place. The place happens to be one that we, the editors, call home, even if we no longer go home to it: Ukraine, which on our inner map includes Crimea. It was there, in Yalta, that we first met and fell in love, and for the next two years our romance unfolded between two Ukrainian strongholds of monocultural identity, Simferopol in Crimea and Lviv in Western Ukraine. Over the years, we have learned to navigate the precarious semiotic landscapes of these two worlds. While our American friends thought that as a Russian and a Ukrainian, we are basically cultural twins, to our relatives and friends back home, ours was a marriage of hostile traditions, and a reconciliation of opposing worldviews. The equilibrium was a fragile one, and the very tensions we saw playing out in the public discussions would occasionally unfold in our own family. We would find ourselves exchanging the conflicting slogans—about memory, history, language, violence, justice—in raised voices, surprised by the hold they have on us. When the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was followed by the large-scale eruption of military conflict in the east of Ukraine, engulfing whole cities, we knew it wasn’t just a matter of one vicious leader’s opportunism—it was also about the people who sought salvation, ignorant of the price they would pay for it. Alienated, resentful, and desperate to be saved from a world they had stopped recognizing as their own, they were ripe for manipulation; schooled in distrust and cynicism in their cramped Soviet kitchens, they nevertheless believed their Russian-tuned TV sets promising them a special destiny and an imperial future. For us, Words for War started out as a form of therapy. We sought to patch together the pieces of this disintegrating world, with its dangerously sharp yet blurred edges, and to amplify voices that rang true amid the din of fake news, hate speech, jejune Facebook affirmations, and blank-faced propaganda…


On Decomposition and Rotten Plums:
Language of War in Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry

by Polina Barskova

… The impulse to create poetry out of the spirit of political uproar organizes this anthology. It shows us developments of the original urge—to speak the Revolution—by exploring growth and changes in Ukrainian poetry in the years after the upheaval of the 2014 Euromaidan and during the Russo-Ukrainian “ hybrid-war” in Donbas. During these years, poetry writing in Ukraine acquired a new vitality, diversity, and strong national resonance—especially when it comes to political poetry.

I argue that Ukrainian literary identity is being shaped today within the realm of poetical expression. …

Det ordinære i det ekstraordinære

Har man abonnement til Information, kan man på Informations podcastside høre om “The War Dictionary”s vej til udgivelse for den ukrainske digter Ostap Slyvynsky.

… Kort efter russernes fuld skala-invasion af Ukraine meldte Ostap Slyvynsky sig som frivillig på Lvivs togstation. Med Ukrainekrigens begyndelse blev togstationen ét stort transportknudepunkt for flygtninge fra krigsramte områder, der var på vej ud af landet, og ukrainere bosat i udlandet, der var på vej ind i landet.

»Det var en stor skare af desorienterede mennesker,« siger Ostap Slyvynsky. »Nogle bange, nogle stressede, nogle traumatiserede, forvirrede. En af de første ting, jeg indså, var, at de virkelig har et enormt behov for samtale, de har brug for at dele deres historier, de har brug for nogen til at lytte til dem.«

Med tiden, siger Slyvynsky, forstod han, at historierne var enormt værdifulde. Fortællinger om »ordinære mennesker i en ekstraordinær situation«:

»Hvad gør almindelige mennesker, de mennesker, der ligner os, naboer, kolleger, hvem som helst, hvordan opfører de sig i sådan en uforlignelig stressende situation.«

Det var fysisk umuligt at notere historierne eller at optage dem, siger han, fordi en stor del af det frivillige arbejde bestod i manuelt arbejde. I stedet memorerede han historierne, og senere, når han kom hjem, forsøgte han så at genkalde sig fortællingerne og skrive dem ned – nogle gange til sent ud på natten. Det var, siger Slyvynsky, en måde at bidrage til kampen på….


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