Translated by Grace Mahoney
Born in Lviv, Iryna Starovoyt is a poet, essayist, and Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at Ukrainian Catholic University. She writes in Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Yiddish and English. Starovoyt’s work has been featured in several poetry anthologies and individual poems have been translated and published in Polish, Lithuanian, English, and Armenian. Her poetry debut, Vzhe ne prozori (1997) [No Longer Limpid] was well received by critics, earning her a place among the writers of Ukraine’s post-independence.
In A Field of Foundlings, Starovoyt investigates the suppressed generational memory of Ukraine in the 20th century and the new context of its retelling in Eastern Europe. In an interview she stated:
. . . There were moments in the history of the last century when our cities and villages became the most dangerous places on Earth, where only one out of a hundred survived. The memory of this time was almost completely erased. We now know that this type of collective amnesia is shameful and dangerous.
A Field of Foundlings is translated by series editor, Grace Mahoney. In her introduction, Mahoney personifies Starovoyt as a bird: “This bird flies swift and low through the streets of her city, methodically collecting various scraps of daily life, the twigs of memory, and scattered cultural treasures to build her nest, the poem.”
I am nobody, so I can be anybody.
I will tell you the story of you:
I see early grey hairs,
Understand, you've already been to the depths.
Crow feet under your eyes
means you laughed at misfortune.
And in your eyes are noble ambers,
a light that penetrates from the depths.
Understand: what was broken didn't mend -
a boy who's kissed on the forehead.
I am nowhere, so I can be anywhere.
Wait and someone else will tell you the story of me.