June 23, 2017

Ukrainian poets in translation: Anna Malihon and Taras Malkovych

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Taras Malkovych

Taras Malkovych

Underground Books in New York City has become a new champion of Ukrainian literature. Recently two young poets from Ukraine had their poems translated into English and published as chapbooks. Anna Malihon’s book “Burnt Skin” was published in July 2016 for the New York Poetry Festival and Taras Malkovych’s “Name Over” was published in January of this year.

Taras Malkovych

Taras Malkovych

Ms. Malihon was born in Konotop, Ukraine, and currently lives in Kyiv. She is a member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine and has been the winner of various international literary competitions and festivals. Her published works in Ukrainian include the poetry books: “The Doorbell,” “Blood Transfusion,” “To Abandoned Ships” and “Initial Rain.” She is also the author of a novel, “Teach Her How To Do It,” and a children’s book, “Carolina’s Magical Album.”

“Burnt Skin” contains both the original poems in Ukrainian and their translations into English. Ms. Malihon’s poetry is sensually and emotionally charged. Her poems combine beauty and ugliness to create memorable images: “I wanted to ask for a long time: What is it like there/ on the other side of war? / It seems that it’s warm considering snow/ turns to milk.” or “Who knows what the sky reflected – spilled wine/ or bloody fields.”

Anna Malihon

Anna Malihon

Her poems are also filled with a bestiary: perch, blue birds, butterflies, canaries and seagulls. They all come alive within Ms. Malihon’s vivid language.

Mr. Malkovych currently lives and works in Kyiv. He is a graduate of the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, where he defended his thesis on the specifics of Ukrainian and international film translation. His poetry has been translated into English, German, Bulgarian, Polish and Russian. He is the author and compiler of the anthology “The Sleepwalkers: Dreams of Ukrainian Writers” (2010) and the poetry collection “The One Who Loves Long Words” (2013).

“Name Over” contains Mr. Malkovych’s poems in English translation. His poetry is replete with unusual perspectives and images. His poems create a labyrinth of words. His world transforms in simple ways, creating a fanciful environment: “The surrounding mountains are dragon bellies,”

“I’ve even seen poppy seeds dance their way onto a patterned bedspread” and “my shadow on the floor constantly changed shape.”

Recently, the poets and translator met in Ukraine to celebrate the release of “Anthology of Young Poetry of the U.S.A.” by A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishers of Kyiv (2016). Mr. Malkovych was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University. The outcome of his research was the publication of the anthology, which includes translations from English of 35 young American poets who reflect the diversity of the current poetry scene in the United States.

Mr. Malkovych was also one of the principal translators of the anthology, which also included translations by Andriy Lyubka, Pavlo Matyusha and Lyuba Yakimchuk.

Recently released books of works by Ukrainian poets in English translation.

Recently released books of works by Ukrainian poets in English translation.

Underground Books currently works with A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA to promote the Ukrainian publisher’s children’s literature in the U.S. James Browning Kepple, a poet whose work appears in the anthology, is responsible for the distribution of the English-language translations such as the beautiful “Lisa and her Dreams,” about a girl whose life intersects with famous artists during sleep.

Olena Jennings, the translator of “Burnt Skin” and “Name Over” is a poet herself. Her poetry book “Songs From An Apartment” was published by Underground Books in 2017. Her poems are included in “Anthology of Young Poetry of the U.S.A.” Ms. Jennings completed her M.A. in Slavic languages with an emphasis on Ukrainian at the University of Alberta and her M.A. in creative ariting at Colombia University.

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