Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but Vladimir Putin’s forces have been nibbling at the edges of the country since 2014. Or one could say that the war began “long before 2014 by way of colonial imperial politics, suppression of language cultures, mass hunger, and terror,” as the poets Carolyn Forché and Ilya Kaminsky write in the introduction to In the Hour of War, their new anthology of contemporary Ukrainian poetry. “This is a poetry marked by a radical confrontation with the evil of genocide,” they write. “Does poetry have the tensile strength to embody such a confrontation?” The anthology seeks to answer that question with the help of its diverse contributors: “soldier poets, rock-star poets, poets who write in more than one language, poets whose hometowns have been bombed and who have escaped to the West, poets who stayed in their hometowns despite bombardments, poets who have spoken to parliaments and on TV, poets who refused to give interviews, poets who said that metaphors don’t work in wartime and poets whose metaphors startle.” Forché joins us this week on the podcast to talk about the surprising “life-giving force of these poems.”
Go beyond the episode:
- In the Hour of War: Poetry from Ukraine, edited by Carolyn Forché and Ilya Kaminsky
- Listen to Serhiy Zhadan’s “Take Only What Is Most Important” on our Read Me a Poem podcast
- Read Megan Buskey’s essay on the long, unfortunate history of Ukrainian displacement
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.
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