You are a poet, they say, we expect you to give us answers you are a poet, they say, explain us everything with a poem a painful one, strong, render your loss and grieve over your dead with some new metaphors make the words in your language meet in the order they’ve never met before you are a poet, they say. What can I answer them, as a poet, a woman, a friend who lost their friends to the monster of war? Who has friends and friends of friends who will never return? Who left their home libraries burn with the buildings destroyed by the lethal arms so they themselves can fleet and live? Homeless, bookless, wordless, but yet alive. Who am I as a poet, not coming form the regions affected, a war victim impostor, an empath with cinematographic imagination the free verses in my head, not giving myself the right to speak on the war that is not even mine. You are a poet, they say, you come from THAT country we expect you to be giving answers to write poems, you know. How can I answer them with a poem, when anxiety cut off my voice, played on my vocal cords, ate up my words? Haven’t you read it all in the New York Times, in The Guardian and also your local press? Haven’t you used your empathy and some visuals from movies you’ve seen? Would you like me to send you a link? I am not even writing this poem in the language of victims although I should for it’s all them who are seeking the answers, for it’s not up to me to know any.
By Iryna Vikyrchak
Originally Written in English
Iryna Vikyrchak (1988) is a Ukrainian culture manager and poet. She was born in the town on Zalishchyky in Western Ukraine but has lived and worked in numerous literary and cultural events in Chernivtsi, Kiev, and L’viv, as well as abroad in Europe as a director and curator. She is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent of which, The Algometry was published in Kiev in 2021. She is an active member of PEN Ukraine and a PhD student at the Wroclaw University in Poland.
Photo by Lisa Kalloo
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