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Tag: poetry

Through empathy you also become a witness

An interview with Marianna Kiyanovska, Ukrainian poet and translator. Interviewers: Kinga Anna Gajda and Iwona Reichardt

KINGA ANNA GAJDA: In your collection of poems The Voices of Babyn Yar you speak about the Holocaust through the voices of those who witnessed this atrocity. Your poems are not a one-person narrative but a polyphony of the different voices of witnesses who talk about what happened during the Second World War. That perspective is understandable. However, now Ukraine is again in a state of war and you and your loved ones are the witnesses to the crimes and destruction. What does this experience mean to you and how is it reflected in your poetry?

MARIANNA KIYANOVSKA: It is a very complicated experience. To answer this question, I need to refer to my book, titled in Ukrainian Блискавка зустрічає воду і вітер, which could be translated into English as The lightning meets water and wind. This collection of poems was published in Ukraine in 2023 and is in a sense a continuation of The Voices of Babyn Yar.

April 11, 2024 - Iwona Reichardt Kinga Gajda Marianna Kiyanovska

“Poetry as witness during a time of great atrocity”

A review of Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond. By: Ostap Kin, ed., translated by Ostap Kin and John Hennessy and published by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.

August 18, 2023 - Nicole Yurcaba

Bosnia’s wartime prime minister on reconciliation

Haris Silajdžić served as the minister of foreign affairs and then prime minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. Through his experience he understands the horrors and pain felt during the genocidal actions of Serbs at that time and knows what it takes to finally overcome that terrible period. Today, 30 years after the Bosnian war started, he still dreams of a reconciliation between different identity groups.

A few months ago, in Sarajevo, I met up with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s wartime prime minister, Haris Silajdžić. He has a certain squint in his eyes that gives the impression that he has witnessed a lot during his lifetime, which is in fact true. He lived through the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and occupied high office during the Bosnian War and in its aftermath. To this day, the septuagenarian’s mind is still razor sharp and he has the ability to dive into political issues taking place halfway around the world

April 28, 2023 - Leon Hartwell

Ukraine’s defiance goes beyond the battlefield

Poetry may not have the power to stop Russian missile strikes but Ukraine’s literary festival season, which carried on in spite of the horrors of war, became a testament to the importance of defending culture during the invasion. After all, the Russians have been very clear that they do not recognise the Ukrainian identity.

In Chernivtsi, a small Western Ukrainian city located on the border with Romania, September begins with poetry. Artists from throughout Ukraine and all over the world have been gathering there for the past 13 years during the annual Meridian Czernowitz Festival. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this year’s festival was different, and, in the words of Meridian’s chief editor Evgenia Lopata, “a small miracle”.

December 7, 2022 - Kate Tsurkan

A female voice from Sarajevo

In post-war Sarajevo a war is waged to win the future which had been taken away by the living ghosts of the past. The frontlines are nonetheless changing and now different people are pushed underground, stigmatised and treated as if they do not belong to the community. The ethnic and religious war has been replaced by a new culture war.

Some time ago, when the bloody Balkan war was still raging in Sarajevo, poet Izet Sarajlić, editor Čedo Kisić and professor Zdravko Grebo were explaining their world to me. None of them is alive anymore. Neither is Isak Samokovlija, a prominent Bosnian Jewish writer, whose stories took me to the most hidden corners of Sarajevo’s historical centre, Baščaršija, as well as the Grbavica and Bentbaša districts. I was listening to the stories of the writers and artists who had left Sarajevo, but who were still under its influence. They included Dževad Karahazan in Graz, Josip Osti in Ljubljana, Miljenko Jergović in Zagreb, and Nino Žalica in Amsterdam…

September 12, 2021 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

The living and the dead

A conversation with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, a Polish poet, and Trupa Trupa, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. Interviewer: Jacek Hajduk

JACEK HAJDUK: During the 2019 SXSW Music Festival you dedicated the performance of your group, Trupa Trupa, to the memory of the late Gdańsk mayor, Paweł Adamowicz. Let us then start with Gdańsk. How much of this city is with you today? And how was it before? Which faces of this multi-layered urban centre are close to your heart?

GRZEGORZ KWIATKOWSKI: Today, Gdańsk is a big part of me, unlike in the past. Back then I was more interested in self-isolating myself and creating a kind of enclave in one of its districts – Gdańsk Wrzeszcz. This actually is still my ideal, but now I also understand the impact that this city has on me and my poetry. This is mainly because of my family stories.

September 12, 2021 - Grzegorz Kwiatkowski Jacek Hajduk

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