Thursday, March 01, 2007

Clusters of Poetry: The Ukraine

When I wrote about Bruce Weigl's book DECLENSION IN THE VILLAGE OF CHUNG LUONG, I found a cluster of war-related books of poetry on the desk at the same time: Brian Turner's HERE, BULLET (note -- we plan to host Brian here in October!), Doug Anderson's THE MOON REFLECTED FIRE, and Dunya Mikhail's THE WAR WORKS HARD.

In like manner, the work of Dzvinia Orlowsky jumped at me today. Orlowsky, whose roots are Ukrainian, is a founding editor of Four Way Books and author of three poetry collections, plus a fourth that's in press (2008). After listening several times recently to Ilya Kaminksy, another poet with roots in the Ukraine, craft his unforgetable, heavily accented, impassioned readings, I'm curious about Orlowsky. If you're in the Boston area or willing to drive there, Pine Manor College just added her to the series of Solstice MFA readings it is sponsoring in the region this month. Details:

Poet Dzvinia Orlowsky will be reading on Saturday, March 24 at 9 p.m. at the East Bridgewater Public Library, 32 Union Street in East Bridgewater. For more information, visit

And here, from the PMC web site:

© Roman Borysthen-Tkacz

Award-winning writer Dzvinia Orlowsky is the author of three poetry collections, including Except for One Obscene Brushstroke. Her translation from the Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko's novella, The Enchanted Desna, is forthcoming from House Between Water in 2006. Her fourth collection, Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in spring 2008. Her poetry and translations have appeared in numerous anthologies, including A Map of Hope: An International Literary Anthology; From Three Worlds: New Writing from the Ukraine; and A Hundred Years of Youth: A Bilingual Anthology of 20th Century Ukrainian Poetry.

And a sample of her poetry:

Carpe Diem
by Dzvinia Orlowsky

A fly sticks to a strip, its life work.
In Hidden Acres, the town’s new development,

a man tests a chain saw
against a hunk of tree.

I drive the long way around
anything that reminds me

of myself—
easy sweets, the greasy,

screaming open all night restaurants
of my middle-aged blood.

A motorcycle cuts across
the day’s pale lawn

leaving behind an empty helmet,
its rider passed into oblivion.

In my daughter’s room
sand dollar chimes drop onto the windowsill

while two hermit crabs
inch toward a damp sponge,

a bright green peace sign painted on one shell,
a Harley flame on the other.

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