Christopher Merrill translated into Ukrainian by Nina Murray

The sandbags piled around the monument 

In Kharkiv to Taras Shevchenko, poet 

And founder of a literature and language 

The Russian soldiers firing at the city 

Do not believe exists, are testimony  

To some of the ways in which poetic logic 

Can shape experience for generations, 

Unconsciously, surviving in a turn  

Of phrase, a cadence, or an adage passed 

Along in pillow talk and argument  

Between a couple headed for divorce 

A week before their neighbors went to war 

Against a ghostly nation resurrected  

In verse: A black cloud hid a cloud of white… 

Мішки з піском, навалені в Харкові навколо 

Пам’ятника Тарасові Шевченку, поета і 

Засновника літератури й мови,   

В існування котрої не вірять російські війська, 

Що обстрілюють місто—ще один доказ 

Тих способів, в які поетична логіка здатна 

Формувати досвід багатьох поколінь,   

Несвідомо, виживаючи десь у певнім звороті, 

Ритмі, чи приказці, повторюваній   

В розмовах перед сном у ліжку й у сварках 

Подружжя, в якому справи йшли до розлучення, 

За тиждень до того, як їхні сусіди розпочали війну 

Проти примарної нації, воскреслій у вірші: 

Заступила чорна хмара та й білую хмару. 

Nina Murray is a Ukrainian-American poet and translator. She is the author of the poetry collections Glapthorn Circular (LiveCanon Poetry, 2023) and Alcestis in the Underworld (Circling Rivers Press, 2019) as well as several chapbooks. Her award-winning translations include Oksana Zabuzhko’s Museum of Abandoned Secrets (Amazon Crossing), and Oksana Lutsyshyna’s Ivan and Phoebe (Deep Vellum). Her translation of Lesia Ukrainka’s Cassandra was performed at the Omnibus Theatre in London in 2022 and toured to Cambridge and Oxford in 2023.  

Christopher Merrill has published seven collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. His writings have been translated into nearly forty languages; his journalism appears widely; his honors include a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, numerous translation awards, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and Ingram Merrill Foundations. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. He served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO from 2011-2018, and in April 2012 President Barack Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities. 


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