Ilya Kaminsky with Yulia Musakovska and Olena Jennings at NYPL: In the Hour of War

On May 9th, Ukrainian poetry was heard at the NYPL’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library. The New York Public Library (NYPL), Manhattan’s largest circulating library, was recently renovated with a generous gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and is a prime location for popular literary events in its 7th-floor terraced space.

Razom has been developing Ukrainian literary events with the librarians here for over a year. This was our second collaboration with them, following t last fall’s Ukrainian Cultural Festival, which featured writers Olena Stiazhkina, Andriy Kurkov, and Oksana Lutsyshyna.

At the center of this event were two books of poetry from Arrowsmith Press: Yulia Musakovska‘s first collection in English, The God of Freedom, and an anthology of Ukraine’s best poetry, In the Hour of War, co-edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Carolyn Forché. Both collections underscore the urgency of hearing poetry from a land devastated by war, affecting people, buildings, animals, and nature.

The anthology features the work of many poets and translators. Ilya Kaminsky presented his translations of Lesyk Panasiuk, Ostap Slyvynsky, Dmitry Blizniuk, and Anastasia Afanasieva, while Olena Jennings, a NY-based poet and translator, presented her translations of Kateryna Kalytko and Iryna Shuvalova. Photos of the poets were displayed on large screens in the auditorium, creating a visual presence in the room.

Unfortunately, the duration of the event was limited – we could have read and discussed poetry and the war in Ukraine for hours more! This is why Razom plans to host additional literary events and why we recommend purchasing these books.

Ilya Kaminsky spoke warmly about Razom’s work in Ukraine and shared feedback he has received during his frequent travels there. He also mentioned his work with a children’s poetry club in Odesa. One short poem by a very young Odesa-based poet was read, which was incredible.

More on the Speakers:

Yuliya Musakovska is an award-winning Ukrainian poet and translator who lives in Lviv, Ukraine. She is the author of five poetry collections, with a sixth on the way. The God of Freedom was published in Ukrainian in 2021 and has recently been published by Arrowsmith Press. Her poems have been translated into over thirty languages. She is fluent in English and Swedish and has translated poetry from these languages, including the works of Tomas Tranströmer.

Olena Jennings is a co-translator of The God of Freedom. Olena is a NY-based writer, poet, and translator who has significantly contributed to bringing Ukrainian poetry to American readers. In addition to Yuliya’s poems, she read her translations of Kateryna Kalytko and Iryna Shuvalova. Olena is the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series and press.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odesa, Ukraine, and now lives in the United States. He is the author of two poetry collections, Dancing in Odesa and Deaf Republic, which came out in 2019 and was featured on many best poetry lists that year. He is a professor at Princeton University. Ilya co-founded Young People’s Poems Against Missiles, a program in Odesa that supports young and very young poets. As the program movingly states, Poems can allow young people to articulate themselves when they are in bomb shelters.” In 2023, he co-edited In the Hour of War with Carolyn Forché, a collection of poetry from Ukraine.

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