A New Orthography: Poems
Author: Serhiy Zhadan
Translators: John Hennessy and Ostap Kin
Publisher: Lost Horse Press (2020)
A New Orthography by Serhiy Zhadan is the fifth volume in Lost Horse Press's Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series. In these poems, the poet focuses on daily life during the Russo-Ukrainian war, rendering intimate portraits of the country's residents as they respond to crisis. Zhadan revives and revises the role of the nineteenth-century Romantic bard, one who portrays his community with clarity, preserving its most precious aspects and darkest nuances. The poems investigate questions of home, exile, solitude, love, and religious faith, making vivid the experiences of noncombatants, refugees, soldiers, and veterans. This collection will be of interest to those who study how poetry observes and mirrors the shifts within a country during wartime, and it offers solace as well.
“The devastating and wildly charming poems in Serhiy Zhadan’s A New Orthography, written in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War, once again make a startling case for the predominance of a lyrical imagination, especially during a geopolitical crisis. One might expect such poems to retreat to embittered irony or surreal escape. I am astounded at the large-scale heart of this work, the courageous persistence of an autonomous voice remarking on the dailiness of life in war time with apparent whimsy and an undercutting joy.”