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NEIGHBORHOOD OF GRAY HOUSES     poems by Derek Annis
Between Sleeping & Waking   poems by Albert Goldbarth
Though the Walls Are Lit      poems by Emily Holt
A NEW ORTHOGRAPHY
DON’T TOUCH THE BONES  |  Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
PRAY TO THE EMPTY WELLS
A NEW ORTHOGRAPHY  
|
  Serhiy Zhadan

ISBN 978-1-7333400-3-8     $18  /  $21 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

158 pp      
PUB DATE: March 2020       Featured Poetry





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Translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy & Ostap Kin

Translators John Hennessy and Ostap Kin have been awarded the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation from Poetry magazine for work included in this volume.

A New Orthography by Serhiy Zhadan is the fifth volume in Lost Horse Press’s Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series. In these poems, the poet focuses on daily life during the Russo-Ukrainian war, rendering intimate portraits of the country’s residents as they respond to crisis. Zhadan revives and revises the role of the nineteenth-century Romantic bard, one who portrays his community with clarity, preserving its most precious aspects and darkest nuances. The poems investigate questions of home, exile, solitude, love, and religious faith, making vivid the experiences of noncombatants, refugees, soldiers, and veterans. This collection will be of interest to those who study how poetry observes and mirrors the shifts within a country during wartime, and it offers solace as well.

About the Author

Serhiy Zhadan

ZhadanSerhiy Zhadan is a Ukrainian poet, writer, essayist, and translator. English translations of Zhadan’s other work include the books of prose, Depeche Mode, Voroshilovgrad, and Mesopotamia (also features poetry) and a collection of poetry, What We Live For, What We Die For. 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.

Awards

REVIEWS

KENYON REVIEW • 30 March 2020

Olena Jennings on Serhiy Zhadan’s A New Orthography (Lost Horse Press, 2020) translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

Serhiy Zhadan, in the brilliant translation of John Hennessy and Ostap Kin, writes, “Let’s start with the madness of getting used to the night.” This line is especially poignant in our time as we deal with the madness of getting used to staying home during the time of coronavirus. Poetry helps us to adjust. According to Zhadan in his introduction to the work, “Our world is shaped by the books we read and the misfortunes we experience.” Many of Zhadan’s poems were written after the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war, which began in 2014 and continues to the present. Many of the poems are about those who have suffered during the war or whose lives have simple changed.

The book, A New Orthography, consists of Zhadan’s work selected from several of his collections from 2016 to 2020, was recently released by Lost Horse Press. It is the fifth book in the Lost Horse Press Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series. Poetry in some of the series was published for the first time, and includes both the original Ukrainian and English translations. Even if you don’t read Ukrainian, there is something comforting about having the original alongside the translation, a foundation to hold onto while you journey through Zhadan’s poetry.

Also pertinent to our time, in which we are getting used to a new way of living, Zhadan writes, “You’ll get to wake up in a room/listening carefully to your body,” pointing out the silence that overcomes us even in the time of tragedy. “In the morning there is almost no one at the stop” also works well in our present circumstances as Zhadan describes the two people waiting. They are seen through each other’s eyes. His poems are a way to see other people who remain hidden to us in the current situation.

“Every morning we talk about war. / Stand before the mirror and talk about war.” There is an isolation happening that is similar to the one that I feel happening now. We look in the mirror and talk about politics. We look in the mirror and talk about the events we don’t have control over. Serhiy Zhadan’s poetry carries us through this time. The new book of his poetry in translation, A New Orthography, is more than worth picking up, so that you can feel the power of the words, pleasantly heavy and relevant.

•••

Smells like big money.
Smells like war.
These days only the motherland will cry over me.
Fall will warm us up.
We’ll pay our dues.
She’ll cry over us. She does it well.

She does it well.
She’s done it well so far.
We break our language like bread on the road.
Her early love, her early grief.
She’ll be waiting for us.
She’ll be there to identify the body.

She’ll recognize me by a scar above the eye.
She’ll touch it carefully, she’ll touch it unconsciously.
Still, tenderness is so painful,
still, winter is unnoticeable.

These days everyone is in need of quiet and patience.
The sky before a snowstorm is like a dog’s dry palate.
The sky sees everything, black madonnas hide in the sky.
We are still here,
we’ll still reach
our borders.