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The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
  Serhiy Zhadan

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

158 pp      
PUB DATE: March 2020       Poetry


Translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy & Ostap Kin

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.

Lit_Awards_FinalistSeal_Full Color

Serhiy Zhadan’s translator, John Hennessy, has created several videos, reading four of the poems
of Serhiy Zhadan from A New Orthography. Enjoy!

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.


A NEW ORTHOGRAPHY is co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry 2021

Arrowsmith Press, in conjunction with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and The Walcott Festival in Port-of-Spain,Trinidad, are delighted to announce that the co-winners of the second annual are Canisia Lubrin for The Dyzgraphxst and Serhiy Zhadan for A New Orthography. The winners were selected by poet Major Jackson from a short list of twenty worthy finalists.Commenting on Serhiy Zhadan’s work, Jackson noted:

“The devastating and wildly charming poems in Serhiy Zhadan’s A New Orthography, written in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War, once again make a startling case for the predominance of a lyrical imagination, especially during a geopolitical crisis. One might expect such poems to retreat to embittered irony or surreal escape. I am astounded at the large-scale heart of this work, the courageous persistence of an autonomous voice remarking on the dailiness of life in war time with apparent whimsy and an undercutting joy.”

Established in 2019, the annual prize is for a book in English or English translation by a living poet writing in any language who is not a US citizen (green card holders welcome) published in the previous calendar year.A hybrid reading will be held with this year’s poets, along with Julia Copus, recipient of the 2019 Walcott Prize, at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, on Sunday, 19 September 2021 at 3PM EST (12 Noon PT).


A New Orthography is declared a FINALIST in the PEN AMERICA Translation 2021 Award!

On behalf of PEN America President Ayad Akhtar, this year's judges—Daniel Borzutsky, Marissa Davis, Meg Matich—and all of us at PEN America, it is my sincere honor to inform you that Serhiy Zhadan’s A New Orthography has been selected as a Finalist for the 2021 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.


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.



KENYON REVIEW • 30 March 2020

Review by Olena Jennings

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.

  A New Orthography by Serhiy Zhadan, translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin. Lost Horse Press, 2020 ($18)


31 May 2021
Review by Herman Van den Reeck

This compendium of Zhadan’s poetry, taken from three separate books, forms part of the “one continuous work” chronicling Ukraine in post-independence. His language has the frank, direct, almost flat-footed, yet ultimately bracing style that begins as declaration and ends as quip. “It’s the third year of war; they’re repairing the bridges. / I’d complain about you, but who’d listen.” Levity has a sinister edge. “I know your sister. I always had a thing for her. / I know what you are afraid of, why, even. / Who you met that winter, what you told him.” It used to be exciting to read Central European and former Soviet republic poets from the safe perch of our perceived democracy. Now we understand that the lives of others means us. We are the autocratic state where men no longer have to sit in vans with headphones, blowing on their cold hands while their partner runs to get stale coffee, in order to track our every move. Today, you can do it from your desktop while drinking vanilla latte. “Woe unto women who give birth in a time of pogrom. / The city of betrayal, the city of sorrow, the city of poison.” Those wild-eyed and sexy-bitter, Chaplinesque Slavic foreigners used to let us outsource our conscience. All we had to do was stand in hypothetical solidarity. Words spoken on alien soil in the 90s, now freshly relevant, come stateside to mock our collective angst, “as if it wasn’t us who prepared / for the power of ice/born out of lovelessness. / As soon as the damp cursive thaw appears in the air/the world explodes/like a crowd shown/the severed head of a tyrant.” If only Zhadan were less obvious, we could all close the book, compliment him on getting his people’s zeitgeist right, and get a good night’s sleep.


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.