New Poetry From Ukraine by Iryna Shuvalova

Being a Ukrainian abroad and being a Ukrainian at home today represent two different kinds of pain. Iryna Shuvalova, a Ukrainian poet and literature scholar, traveled from her native Kyiv to China, where she works as a college counselor, as tanks began to appear on Ukraine's borders.

I pretend death doesn't exist
but death is coming and death is buzzing
over plum trees over cherries and quince
the ruthless stinging of metal bees
spring is coming it's already spring in nanjing
the columns move toward kyiv military columns
I read the news feed

Whereas most of the Ukrainian poems in our earlier Lit Hub installments were written during the first eight years of the Donbass war, we are sharing a cycle by Shuvalova, written far away from the bombing, in Nanjing, China, following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian name for February is liutyi—literally meaning "furious/fierce"—and, as Shuvalova writes, the month proved furious. Shuvalova's poems capture the news feeds, the texts, and the phone calls that bridge and compound the distance between Ukraine at war and a Ukrainian abroad.

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