trans. John Hennessy and Ostap Kin 

Zynoviy Blum, king of tavern and market,
an idol worshipped by rosy prostitutes,
flew between merchants like a vampire
sucking the trib from them like blood.

He was greeted with a joyful “Vey mir!”     
With his smile, sweeter than molasses,
he took them for their gold and their girls,               
until of course he crossed a line.                              

The Soviets broke him out of prison—
somehow he began to jabber in Russian,
became a made man in the secret police.

Up to his elbows in guts like a coroner,
he learned to curse and drink vodka
in the NKVD and later the MGB.

John Hennessy is the author of two poetry collections, Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims. He is the co-translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021. The poems published here are included in the forthcoming anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute), edited and co-translated by Ostap Kin.

Ostap Kin is an editor (and translator with John Hennessy) of Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (forthcoming from Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute) and New York Elegies: Ukrainian Poets Respond, and is the co-translator, with John Hennessy, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry and finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. With Vitaly Chernetsky, he translated Yuri Andrukhovych's Songs for a Dead Rooster.


Yuri Andrukhovych

Зиновій Блюм, король шинків і яток,
рожевих лярв улюблелий кумир,
літав по крамарях, немов упир,
і, ніби кров, смоктав із них податок.

Його стрічали радісним «вей мір!».
Під усмішкою, що солодша паток,
він позбавляв їх золота й дівчаток,
але, на жаль, порушив міру мір.

З тюрми його звільнили вже совіти —
сяк-так почав по-руському триндіти
і висунув на службу сам себе.

По лікті у кишках, немов анатом,
навчився водку жрать, ругаться матом
в енкаведе, а згодом емґебе.

Yuri Andrukhovych is one of the most prominent and influential Ukrainian poets and writers. He has published more than a dozen poetry collections, fiction books, and collections of essays, and his work has been translated into many languages. His most recent collection of poems in English translation is Songs for a Dead Rooster (2018); his most recent collection of essays is My Final Territory (2018). Andrukhovych lives and works in Ivano-Frankivsk.

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