Poetry Travels: Ukraine. UNTITLED POEM by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

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

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


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

Check out the Poetry Travels book list on bookshop.org.

Read previous poems from Poetry Travels:

UNTITLED POEM by Ludmila Khersonsky, translated by Maya Chhabra

UNTITLED POEM by Iryna Vikyrchak

From THE ANDROMEDA NEBULA by Anna Gréki, translated by Souheila Haïmiche and Cristina Viti

TEAPOT by Nurduran Duman, translated by Andrew Wessels

IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author

INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak

REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer

*** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will

THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

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One comment

  1. A poignant observation on everyday life – and on how differently we might behave if we could see into the future.

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