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Poems under the bombs: poetry collections about the war published in Ukraine and other countries

The new year was marked by new shelling of Ukraine and new deaths. Meanwhile, despite the regular "arrivals" of missiles and power outages, in Kyiv out printed collection of prose and poetry "Artelen". This almanac is published annually, and this time its 12th issue of 512 pages has been published. The vast majority of poems in the new collection, which is quite natural, are devoted to the war. Its authors are not only Ukrainians, but also poets from many countries, including the United States, who write in Russian, which, as the authors are convinced, cannot be left at the mercy of the aggressor.

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Chronicle of our time

Editor and compiler of the collection, Ukrainian poet Nikolai Lobanovknown by his pseudonym Nick El Ann, notes: when compiling the collection, as before, the artistic merits of the poems were taken into account first of all. Despite the pain of loss, the poets tried to preserve their humanity without falling into hopeless aggression. The authors of the project say that they began to prepare the book around August. Additional difficulties began on October 10, when Russia began to regularly strike at Ukrainian infrastructure.

«Often there were moments when the printing house did not work due to the fact that the lights were turned off. In moments of power outages, mobile communications do not work, and there are not enough generators to power the computer. All this also made the job more difficult. But these difficulties are trifles in comparison with what our guys face at the front.”, Nikolai is convinced. According to him, the collection has become "a unique wartime document, a chronicle of our everyday life," which in its own way also brings victory closer and shows that the Ukrainian people cannot be broken.

“Our noosphere is impoverished”

Shortly before the publication of "Artelen", at the very beginning of the new year, the British publishing house "Smokestack Books" published an anthology "Disbelief" of 100 poems written after February 24th. The book is also available in printed and electronic form. acquire in the USA. As the author of the project, a poet, novelist and literary critic from the United States, explains Julia Nemirovskaya, the idea to collect anti-war poetry came about largely as a reaction to the desperation caused by the war.

«In the early days, it was completely incomprehensible what could be done. At that time it was not yet possible to help refugees, and the only thing that came to my mind was to ask my friends from Moscow to send me their poems”, Yulia recalls.

With the beginning of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the dictatorship in Russia grew stronger every day, and Yulia Nemirovskaya wanted to save her poems in case of tougher repression. Friends from Russia and Ukraine began to send her entire collections, which, according to the American literary critic, became clear evidence that not all Russian-speakers support the war, and the Russian language is used not only by the occupiers. So there was an electronic "piggy bank" - a selection of thousands of poems about the war, which grew every day.

Yulia Nemirovskaya managed to get in touch with five translators, who themselves chose poems for translation from the “piggy bank”. The final edition was, in fact, the result of their choice. Each of the hundred poems included in the collection is accompanied by an English translation. Julia believes that poetry could become a kind of therapy for both authors and translators, as well as for their readers.

«For many people, it was very significant that their poems were heard, and the translation of poems into another language seems to confirm the significance of their text, shows that people from other countries are able to feel the same way. Being side by side, in one collection, the verses seem to reinforce each other, turning into a single powerful choir. At the same time, the translators managed to create completely unique, original English-language versions of Russian texts - in fact, independent works.", - the compiler shares.

According to Yulia, for people who are accustomed to perceive and empathize with poetic texts, poetry helps to cope with the hardships of war, just as music or painting helps some people. Now Julia Nemirovskaya is working on the second part of the collection.

«Here you can quote Vladimir Vernadsky about the fact that because of the war our noosphere has become impoverished, and therefore it needs to be filled by creative people“, she sums up.

Way to deal with despair

In the early autumn of last year in Germany there was also published collection of poems with the characteristic title "War". It became the first book published in a new Russian-language edition FRESH Verlag, founded by a translator and editor from Germany Love Machina. The collection includes poems from the first three months of a full-scale invasion - from February 24 to May 24.

«I wanted to show the most complete picture of the response of poets to the war, to give the reader the opportunity to hear many different voices., says the publisher. The authors of the poems live in Ukraine, Russia and other countries of the world. Among them are both professional poets and people whose work is quite far from literature. Lyubov Machina explains that she included poems that touched her most deeply in the collection, with the hope that the reader will perceive them in the same way.

«Art, poetry is our eternal human way of coping with despair. Poems help to express what does not fit in the head, relieve the pangs of dumbness. When a poet finds the right word and shares it with you, it feels like support.", - she is sure.

The publisher notes that in the tragic moments of life, poetry is a way of living grief, and as time passes, it becomes part of emotional memory, a kind of its archive.

«There were many lines in these verses that I will now remember, probably forever. The words that I now think: they tenaciously cut into my memory and appear in it again and again. But the most striking thing is in general, in the very appearance of this poetic wave. As if the whole noosphere of the planet shuddered, and now we have a lot of people in front of us, very, very different, not losing their voice and face, and at the same time united in the main thing. This humanistic impulse is very impressive, says Love.

Contribution from the deep rear

If we talk about the first poetry collections dedicated to the current war, many of them appeared not in print, but in electronic form. These include the site of anti-war poetry "no war”, created by an American journalist, poet and TV presenter Gennady Katsov and his wife Rika. Back in 2011, the couple founded their own publishing house KRIK Publishing House. One of the most famous books of the publishing house was the anthology "OUR CRIMEA”, released in 2014 as a counterbalance to the famous Russian “Krymnash”. Then the collection included works by 120 authors from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and other countries who opposed Russian aggression.

After the start of a full-scale invasion, Gennady and Rika first of all turned to their "old" authors, with whom they had been collaborating for many years. However, publishers admit that not all poets were ready to openly publish their poems, fearing reprisals. However, there were many more who decided to publish poems under their own names, including people who still live in Russia. In addition, new authors began to be added to the project.

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Rika Katsova recalls: in addition to the artistic merit of the sent texts, the authors of the site also paid attention to the position of the author.

«The fact is that even supporters of Russia can claim that they are against the war - but at the same time consider that Ukraine and the United States started the war. However, our position is strictly that we want Ukraine to win and oppose the war unleashed by Russia.”, she explains.

The publishers note that gratitude from the authors from Ukraine was very important for them, who, thanks to the project, got the opportunity to be heard in different parts of the world and talk about what happened in Kyiv, Kharkov or Mariupol.

«We are in the deep rear, and it was very important for us to make some contribution. About a month after the start of the war, we held charity event in support of Ukrainian poets in the center of Manhattan, together with the magazines "Interpoetry" and "New Journal", which was founded by Bunin in 1944. By the way, there were quite a lot of young people at our evening”, Gennady Katsov recalls.

Rika Katsova also notes the high level of women's poetry, which sometimes surpasses men's in terms of the depth of understanding of the war, as well as its strength and poignancy.

«I was shocked by the image of one of our authors - how the tag on the baby's leg, which they put on in the hospital, turns into a tag on the corpse in the morgue. This woman lives in Russia and, by giving permission for the publication of such poems, she risks her freedom. However, she could not remain silent.”, shares Rika.

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