A woman walks down the street. She stops in front of a store. She hesitates. She needs to buy bread. Buy it now or wait until tomorrow? she wonders. She reaches for her phone. Talks with her mother. Speaks sharply, doesn’t listen, raises her voice. She yells as she stands in front of a shop window. As if she’s yelling at her own reflection. She cuts off the conversation, not listening, and walks down the street cursing her invisible, and so even more hateful, mother. She cries at some offense from her and because she can’t forgive her. She forgets about the bread. She forgets about everything in the world. In the morning the first shelling starts.
By Serhiy Zhadan
Translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin
From A NEW ORTHOGRAPHY
by Serhiy Zhadan
Translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin
Published by University of Washington Press (2020)
Serhiy Zhadan is one of Eastern Europe’s leading literary figures and widely recognised as the voice of post-Soviet Ukraine. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. He has received the 2015 Angelus Central European Literary Award (Poland), the 2014 Jan Michalski Prize for Literature (Switzerland), the 2009 Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski Literary Award (Ukraine), the 2006 Hubert Burda Prize for young Eastern European poets (Austria), and the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year award in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Zhadan lives in Kharkiv.
John Hennessy is the author of two collections of poems, Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims. He is the co-translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, and the anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond, part of the new Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature (HUP). He is the poetry editor of The Common and teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Ostap Kin is the editor, and co-translator with John Hennessy, of Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (forthcoming from Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute), the editor of New York Elegies, and the co-translator, with John Hennessy, of Serhiy Zhadan’s A New Orthography, finalist for the PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry. He co-translated, with Vitaly Chernetsky, Yuri Andrukhovych’s Songs for a Dead Rooster.
Photo by Lisa Kalloo
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