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A poem by Olga Bragina, a Kyiv poet currently safe in Poland.
I don’t see why you must remember 1980s Kyiv
I don’t see why you must remember 1980s Kyiv
the white walls the sterile windows of the churches
the empty silence the lines of white bandages and fresh asphalt
still hot scorching underdone bitumen
why you must remember the waterless fizzy water vending machine those white celandine meringues
you’ll be forever stuck leafing through old photos here’s one of you just before your birthday
sneaking past the heroes of the revolution past the warm columns of autocracy the symbols of homeland
I don’t see why you must remember Kyiv now no one lives to love the dead or tear apart notebooks
and the cloudy Podol oil Annushka spilled
I don’t see why you must remember who lived in the house that was Emperor Nikolаi’s favourite colour
those who told tales to the caretaker and to childhood friends
they didn’t recognise or remember you after all these years
here a democratic life passes under local anaesthetic
something with no name other than why must you remember 1980s Kyiv divided into before and after
folded pages in the spine of Duke Berry’s Book of Hours
love is restless and unkind it doesn’t end or begin only the burning asphalt
the shortages of potato peelings acorns and tap water
shortages of bath salts cheerful people in the metro
I don’t see why you must remember
Edited by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya
Translated by Mark Wingrave
Olga Bragina is a Ukrainian poet and translator. She has published five books, and her work has appeared in numerous literary journals.
Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya is a widely-published writer and translator. Originally from Moscow and now living in Sydney, she is a Board member of Moscow PEN.
Mark Wingrave is a member of PEN Melbourne. An artist and translator, he has has exhibited internationally and his translations from Russian to English have been widely published. See his website at mcwingrave.wordpress.com.
зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых
зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых
белые стены церквей стерильно чистые окна
пустота молчание белый цвет бинтов первая свежесть асфальта
горячего асфальта среднепрожаренного битума
зачем тебе помнить где эта газировка без воды пирожные безе чистотела
ты застрянешь здесь навсегда будешь перебирать старые фото вот ты до рождения
пробираешься мимо героев революции теплых столпов самодержавия родимых осин
зачем тебе помнить Киев не любят мертвых не рвут тетради
мутную взвесь подольского масла Аннушка разлила
зачем тебе помнить кто жил в этом доме любимого цвета императора Николая
рассказывал сказки дворникам рассказывал сказки друзьям
детства не признавшим через столько лет никто не помнит тебя
здесь проходит демаркационная линия жизнь под местным наркозом
то чему нет названия но зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых разделять на до и после
часослов герцога Беррийского загибать страницы стачивать корешки
любовь не лжет не милосердствует не заканчивается не начинается только горячий асфальт
дефицит желудей картофельных очистков воды из крана
морской соли для ванн счастливых людей в метро
зачем тебе помнить
Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko and his son Vitalii were detained and taken to an unknown destination by Russian occupiers in Kharkiv region. They have been out of touch since March 7.
Vakulenko’s ex-wife, Iryna Novitska, informed about this on her Facebook page on April 10.
“Something that I have been suspecting since the end of March, was confirmed yesterday. My ex-husband Volodymyr Vakulenko, an author and volunteer from Izium, was denounced and then detained together with our son Vitalii by either Russian soldiers or representatives of the occupational administration. Their fate remains unknown”, Novitska wrote.
Vakulenko lives in the village of Kapytolivka near Izium. The local police are investigating his abduction.
“Our investigation indicates that by the end of March 2022, a well-known Ukrainian writer who for a long time has been implementing volunteering activity, was illegally abducted by Russian occupiers in the village of Kapytolivka. His location is still unknown. The village of Kapytolivka remains under the occupational control of Russian troops. The locality is out of connection now”, Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office states.
In the opinion of Iryna Novitska, the occupiers took interest in her ex-husband because of his patriotic attitude and participation in the war in Donbas. Her claim is that Vakulenko has been denounced by some local residents. Volodymyr Vakulenko is known for his civic activity. During the Revolution of Dignity Volodymyr was wounded in the Marrinskyi Park in Kyiv while fighting against a titushky gang. He has been volunteering for the Ukrainian army since 2015.
Volodymyr Vakulenko was born on July 1, 1972 in Kharkiv region. He is an author of 13 books, among which there are “Monoliteracy” (2008) “You Are… Not” (2011), “The Sun’s Family” (2011), “We, the Province!” (2013). His pen name is Volodymyr Vakulenko-K. His own genre, which contains elements of postmodernism, modernism, neo-classicism, and logical absurdism, Volodymyr defines as “contrliterature”. Vakulenko is a winner of several Ukrainian and international literary prizes. His works have been translated into English, German, Belarussian, Crimean Tatar, and Esperanto languages.
The letter below was received from Subhash Jaireth in both English and Russian:
Another alarming news: Novaya Gazeta announced on its website yesterday (28 March 2022) that it is spending publication. Just wondering if you could bring this the notice of PEN Members.
Here is the text of the announcement is Russian and English (my translation)
With best wishes,
Мы получили еще одно предупреждение Роскомнадзора.
После этого мы приостанавливаем выпуск газеты на сайте, в сетях и на бумаге — до окончания «специальной операции на территории Украины».
С уважением, редакция «Новой газеты»
We have received another warning from Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media).
As a result, we have decided to suspend publication of the newspaper—on our website, on social network sites, and on paper—until the end of the “Special Operation on the Territory of Ukraine.”
Sincerely, Editors of “Novaya Gazeta”
45 Noala Street, Aranda
ACT 2614, Australia
Subhash Jaireth, writer and PEN Melbourne member, spent nine years in Russia studying geology and Russian literature between 1969 and 1978. Subhash has written to PEN Melbourne:
I found a letter written by Ivan Vyrypaev, a contemporary Russian playwright and director.
The letter was published on his website in English. In the letter he calls Putin’s War barbaric and wants royalties from the ticket sales to go to Ukraine Aid Fund.
Below is the link to the independent news website Meduza where the letter was published in Russian and the link to an English translation of Vyrypaev’s own website.
This is to let people know that in Russia people are protesting in different ways and this is where people like me see some hope.
English text of Ivan Vyrypaev’s letter:
Since your theatre is financed by the Ministry of the Russian Federation or the city department of culture of your city, that is, the state that is waging a criminal war now with the Ukrainian people, killing the citizens of this country, destroying the infrastructure of cities and villages, I have made a decision, and I want to inform you that all the money which I will receive from your theatre, I will transfer to the relief funds for Ukraine, of course (and I want to emphasize this) this money will go only for peaceful purposes, and in no case, not for military purposes.
Our money will go to help Ukrainian refugees, children and mothers, to everyone who needs this help now. I am glad that in this way the money from the budget of culture of the Russian Federation will be fairly given to those who suffered and are suffering from the barbaric attack of Russia.
I will try to inform you in detail for what specific purposes the money we earned together was sent.
Spectators who buy tickets for my plays should know that by buying a ticket for the performance based on my play, they also make their own contribution in helping the tragically affected Ukrainians and at least to some extent (of course, to an incredibly small) compensate the monstrous damage that Russia inflicts on Ukraine.
Especially, I am happy to announce my plan to the theatres of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre, the Theatre of Nations and the Moscow Art Theatre, because the royalties from these theatres are much larger than all other theatres together.
So, together with you, we are already starting to do what someday (I am absolutely sure of this) the entire Russian people will do. This letter will published in the media space, on social networks, and on my website, so that our action to help Ukrainians will be followed both in Russia and abroad.
Thank you for being together.
Playwright Ivan Vyrypaev
PEN Ukraine appeals to international PEN centers and fellow writers, journalists and intellectuals.
On this page, we tell about current situation in Ukraine and share official sources, media and accounts on Twitter, whose information can be trusted. You can follow the updates on sources that we recommend. Now, it’s important to tell the truth about the Russia’s war against Ukraine and appeal for support of parliaments and governments in the world.
People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.