Iya Kiva – “for eight years…”


for eight years I kept saying: my home is at war
finally to accept that my home is war
on its train from the east of the country to the west
death is transporting life

the night plunges into the ground
with clutches of withered flowers
and becomes the rotten teeth of silence in our mouths
our language is now the chatter of volunteers and refugees
in which sirens sing songs for Odysseus

our memory is now freedom’s dirty embroidered shirt
its long walk from one heart to another

Translated, from the Ukrainian into English, by Yuliya Musakovska
Poem chosen by Emilia Mirazchiyska

Original text:

Ия Кива

вісім років казати: в мене вдома війна
щоб нарешті прийняти: мій дім – це війна
її потяг повільний зі сходу на захід країни
у якому смерть життя перевозить

ніч заходить у землю судомами квітів змарнілих
і лягає в роти нам гнилими зубами мовчання
наша мова тепер – волонтерсько-біженський чат
у якому сирени співають пісень Одісею

наша пам’ять тепер – брудна вишиванка свободи
її довга хода від серця до серця

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Iya Kiva
Iya Kiva is a Ukrainian bilingual poet, translator and journalist. She was born in 1984 in Donetsk but has lived in Kyiv since the summer of 2014 because of the Russian occupation of Donetsk. Kiva writes in both Russian and Ukrainian. She is the author of two collections of poetry, “Podal’she ot raya” [Farther from Heaven] (2018) and “Persha storinka zimi” [The First Page of Winter] (2019), as well as a book of interviews with Belarus writers, “My prokinemos’ inshimi: rozmovi z suchasnymi belosurs’kimi pis’mennikami pro minule, teperishne I maybutne Bilorusi” [We will awaken as others: discussions with contemporary Belarus authors about the past, the present, and the future of Belarus] (2021). Kiva is a member of the PEN Club Ukraine. Her poetry has been translated into 20 languages. She is the translator of contemporary Ukrainian poets into Russian, she also translates Belarus and Polish poetry and essays into both Ukrainian and Russian. She contributes to the program PJ Library as editor and translator of children’s books from English to Ukrainian. Kiva has received various international and Ukrainian awards and has participated in a variety of festivals and competitions, including the International Poetry Festival “Emigrantskaya Lyra” (2016), the International Poetry Competition “Gayvoronniya” (2019), the Yuriy Kaplan Literary Award (2013), award of the Literary Competition of the “Smoloskyp” Publishing House (2018), the “Metaphora” Translator’s Award (2020), and was the winner of the II Poetry Tournament and recipient of the Nestor Letopisets Award (2019). In 2019, she received a special award from “LitAktsent” for her collection of poems “Persha storinka zimi” [The First Page of Wiinter]. Kiva is the recipient of a Gaude Polonia fellowship from the Ministry of Culture of Poland (2021) and participant of the Writer’s Residency “Gnezdo” (2022) in the Vitachov town of the Kyiv Oblast’.