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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
DREAM BRIDGE
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
Three Wooden Trunks  
|
  Virlana Tkacz

ISBN 978-1-7364323-6-5     $20  /  $24 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

104 pp      
PUB DATE: April 2022       Book Release Featured Poetry





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Virlana Tkacz is a literary translator and a scholar of Ukrainian modernism. She is the recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships, the National Theatre Translation Award, The Agni Review Poetry Translation Prize, and three NYSCA grants for her translations with Wanda Phipps. In 2020, their translation of poems by Serhiy Zhadan, What We Live For, What We Die For, was published by Yale University Press. She a theatre director and head of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York City. She has created 37 original productions for Yara that have been performed in New York, Lviv, Kharkiv, Bishkek, Ulan Ude, and Ulaanbaatar, as well as China and Japan. Three Wooden Trunks is a collection of poems about memory and the poet’s Ukrainian roots, and of the poet’s family’s pursuit of a sweeter, easier life in America.

 

THE FIRST APARTMENT

89 Clinton Street,
Between Rivington and Delancey,
Is not exactly the East Village,
But in those days,
Everything south of Union Square
Was called the Lower Eastside,
Or nadavntavni
as local Ukrainians said.
You realized it was actually two words:
“At downtown”
With a Ukrainian preposition
And suffix,
Plus our special pronunciation.
You had to pay $250 key money,
Reasonable, according to all you asked
And all who lent you $10 each for this first hurdle.
The $60 rent was also deemed reasonable.
Unreasonable was that apartment #13
A 5th floor walk-up
And you had three trunks.
But there were lions
On the building next door.
It was a sign.
You were from Lviv,
The City of Lions,
Before the war ended
Your childhood.
Built in 1920,
with a twin building next to it,
89 Clinton Street
Would be renovated in 2020.
Now it has 12 units,
With a monthly rent of $5,275
For five rooms and two baths.
Back then the stairs were steep
And wooden.
Dragging the boxes up
Turned into a neighborhood event,
With lots of advisors
And some unforgettably
Helpful hands.
One room was a kitchen
With a table and two chairs.
This room turned into a bedroom at night.
A second smaller room had no real windows,
Only an opening into the front room
That resembled a window.
There was one bed
Another was set up at night.
There was a closet for clothes
And a dresser with a mirror.
Behind a door, the toilet,
With a window facing a brick wall.
A cousin who arrived a year later
Described it as:
Very humble, for a professor of Lviv University,
Who had studied in Vienna.
But the cousin and his mother
Were invited to also call it home.
So for two months,
As you worked two jobs,
The five of you shared all you had,
Before they managed
To come up with a place of their own.
There was one more nightly visitor,
A rat.

—Virlana Tkacz