Dispatches From Lviv, A Conversation With Halyna Kruk, Dzvinia Orlowsky, Ali Kinsella, and Chard deNiord

06.02.2024 | 15:59

After reading Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and Ali Kinsella’s translations of Halyna Kruk’s new manuscript of poems titled Lost in Living, I wasn’t sure at first just how to broach the profoundly grievous but also transcendent subject matter of Kruk’s poems. I was curious about how a poet in the midst of devastating war could write about both her country’s and her own personal losses with what William Butler Yeats called “a cold eye.” Kruk’s poetry rises memorably to the occasion of its subject matter with language that conveys a unique combination of empathy and original tropes that indict her country’s enemy accurately as simply dehumanized. A spiritual economy infuses her poetry as a poetic blessing that witnesses memorably to the devastation of her deceased and wounded countrymen and women: “the dead, you could say, live through us,” she writes, “feel through us, play out their games,/prove their theories through us,/convey what was not read and not understood/during life.” Such prophetic vision resounds with mystical intimations and forthtelling, testifying to the power of a single vatic voice over a throng of warmongering invaders. It’s impossible for those far removed from the Russo-Ukrainian War, as we are in America, to imagine both the emotional and physical trauma Ukrainians experience daily. I wondered after reading Lost in Living what Kruk’s last word for her enemy might be, since she addresses them ironically as her “dog” that possesses the power to kill her physically, but not spiritually or on the page where her poetry and witness live on as memorable speech in her country and beyond:


come here, my dog, I have so much for you 
tell me how it’s going—living when
all your people have died

wag your tail at me, nuzzle me, take me by the hand
go for my throat