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Nonfiction

Voices from Ukraine: A Reading List

Seven works of poetry and prose from Ukraine to read now.

In recent days, Russia’s mobilization of troops to its border with Ukraine has dominated headlines here in the US. What the news doesn’t always provide, however, is access to the voices of Ukrainians themselves. We kept this in mind as we compiled the list below, which is composed of seven pieces of prose and poetry from our archive that center Ukraine and its people. While some of this writing engages directly with the country’s history of armed conflict with Russia, the majority addresses more quotidian themes, from love and identity to loneliness and sports fandom. For even more writing from Ukraine, check out the links at the bottom of the page. 

 

1. “Letter to Ukraine”

Danyil Zadorozhnyi considers questions of migration and belonging in “Letter to Ukraine,” translated from Russian by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler and Reilly Costigan-Humes.

 

2. “April 2045: The Hole”

“A hole can’t stand emptiness. You have to respect that.”

An out-of-work gravedigger and his boss come face to face with their own obsolescence in the futuristic world of Taras Antypovych’s “April 2045: The Hole,” translated from Ukrainian by Uilleam Blacker.

 

3. “Crow, Wheels”

 
 

Lyuba Yakimchuk responds to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict of the mid-2010s with “Crow, Wheels,” translated from Ukrainian by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky. Click here to listen to Yakimchuk read the original poem.

 

4. “from A Short History of Dance”

“we haven’t touched,
yet our breath dances in a common rhythm”

Dance serves as the central metaphor of this love poem by Marjana Savka, translated from Ukrainian by Askold Melnyczuk.

 

5. “The Story of Serafima Andreyevna”

“We even ate snakes, anything—but usually my father and brothers didn’t find much, just a few roots.”

In this graphic nonfiction piece by Igort, translated from Italian by Jamie Richards, a Ukrainian woman named Serafima Andreyevna looks back on her experience of the 1932–33 Ukrainian famine.

 

6. “Haunted Swing”

An intoxicated soccer fan begins to lose his grip on reality in Andrei Krasniashikh’s “Haunted Swing,” translated from Russian by Tanya Paperny.

 

7. “[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]”

“The whole soldier shrugs off hurt”

Lyudmyla Khersonska considers the plight of soldiers in this short poem, translated from Russian by Katherine E. Young.

 

Copyright © 2022 by Words Without Borders. All rights reserved.

 

Looking for more writing about Ukraine? Try these:

The City and the Writer: In Lviv with Iryna Vikyrchak

“Chernobyl Poems” by Lina Kostenko, translated by Uilleam Blacker

“Doors” by Żanna Słoniowska, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

English

In recent days, Russia’s mobilization of troops to its border with Ukraine has dominated headlines here in the US. What the news doesn’t always provide, however, is access to the voices of Ukrainians themselves. We kept this in mind as we compiled the list below, which is composed of seven pieces of prose and poetry from our archive that center Ukraine and its people. While some of this writing engages directly with the country’s history of armed conflict with Russia, the majority addresses more quotidian themes, from love and identity to loneliness and sports fandom. For even more writing from Ukraine, check out the links at the bottom of the page. 

 

1. “Letter to Ukraine”

Danyil Zadorozhnyi considers questions of migration and belonging in “Letter to Ukraine,” translated from Russian by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler and Reilly Costigan-Humes.

 

2. “April 2045: The Hole”

“A hole can’t stand emptiness. You have to respect that.”

An out-of-work gravedigger and his boss come face to face with their own obsolescence in the futuristic world of Taras Antypovych’s “April 2045: The Hole,” translated from Ukrainian by Uilleam Blacker.

 

3. “Crow, Wheels”

 
 

Lyuba Yakimchuk responds to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict of the mid-2010s with “Crow, Wheels,” translated from Ukrainian by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky. Click here to listen to Yakimchuk read the original poem.

 

4. “from A Short History of Dance”

“we haven’t touched,
yet our breath dances in a common rhythm”

Dance serves as the central metaphor of this love poem by Marjana Savka, translated from Ukrainian by Askold Melnyczuk.

 

5. “The Story of Serafima Andreyevna”

“We even ate snakes, anything—but usually my father and brothers didn’t find much, just a few roots.”

In this graphic nonfiction piece by Igort, translated from Italian by Jamie Richards, a Ukrainian woman named Serafima Andreyevna looks back on her experience of the 1932–33 Ukrainian famine.

 

6. “Haunted Swing”

An intoxicated soccer fan begins to lose his grip on reality in Andrei Krasniashikh’s “Haunted Swing,” translated from Russian by Tanya Paperny.

 

7. “[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]”

“The whole soldier shrugs off hurt”

Lyudmyla Khersonska considers the plight of soldiers in this short poem, translated from Russian by Katherine E. Young.

 

Copyright © 2022 by Words Without Borders. All rights reserved.

 

Looking for more writing about Ukraine? Try these:

The City and the Writer: In Lviv with Iryna Vikyrchak

“Chernobyl Poems” by Lina Kostenko, translated by Uilleam Blacker

“Doors” by Żanna Słoniowska, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

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