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Beauty and Resilience: Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Exhibit

Volume 12: A Violin from the Other Riverside

Translated by Svetlana Lavochkina

Dmytro Kremin (1953-2019) was an award-winning poet, journalist, essayist, translator, songwriter, civil activist, scholar, and one of the most prominent contemporary literary personalities of the post-World War II generation in Ukraine. Born and raised in a picturesque Transcarpathian village in 1953, Kremin started writing poetry at an early age. His student years were marked by literary experimentation and artistic resistance to the conformist constraints of the Brezhnev regime. Kremin and his colleague Mykola Matola used an old typewriter to produce the literary journal Skrynia [Chest], but criminal charges were brought against the duo resulting in the repression of Kremin’s works. 

Upon graduation in 1979, Kremin moved to Mykolaiv in the south of Ukraine, where he became one of the stalwarts of Ukraine’s national and cultural revival. His work is famed for uniting history and modernity as well as intertwining ardour and objectivity in the portrayal of his homeland.  

In 1999, Kremin was the recipient of the Taras Shevchenko Prize, the highest literary distinction in Ukraine.A Violin from the Other Riverside “performs a complex tune of elements and temperaments, epic and drama, love and hate, universal and personal, wisdom and folly”  

Translator Svetlana Lavochkina is a Ukrainian-born novelist and poet living in Germany since 1999. Lavochkina’s verse novel, Carbon, was published in 2020 by Lost Horse Press.

The Lost Manuscript 

To burn down Kiev Library is not too bad— 
Kiev is not Alexandria... 
From Chernobyl, 
Black snow, white carrion crows 
Are flying our way. 
Kyiv, Kyiv, Kyiv—not Athens, 
But here, too, we have Moguls and Saracens, 
The Ukraine with its corvine ashes; 
And billows of smoke 
Rising from Dante's tercets. 
Snow in Koncha. A hostage of freedom and honor 
Is weeping, his head sadly hung... 
Burn the manuscript. Prove to everybody 
That we are vanished, gone. 
History won't ever mention 
You and your bitter straits. 
The snow from Chernobyl is falling. 
The manuscript bursts into flames. 
But still, in ferocious winter, 
Galya sows marigold seeds 
And the suicide birds implore us 
To remain humane. To live. 


The voices of obscure poets— 
Cimmerians, Hittites, Sumers— 
Resound in Ukrainian phrases. 
The drowned nightingales sigh 
From the Solovki—bottomless mirrors 
In the north of this lost hemisphere. 

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