Poet, Journalist, Translator

Stephen Komarnyckyj

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I write about poetry, Ukraine and money laundering- why the hell not?

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Apr 24 2014 01:23PM


I usually celebrate having my work published in poetry journals and am delighted that I have had a piece published in Ariadne's Thread . However, today I wonder what will happen to my family and friends. I imagine that Putin, who is basically a gangster wrapping himself in a Slavic variant of Nazi racial mythology, plans to grasp East Ukraine then dismember the country like a carcass. However the plan will, of course, only bring suffering. The apricot orchards and dusty summer towns, the birch forests, the slag heaps baking in the sunlight, the wheatfields sloping like harpstrings...shoty are echoing over that vast tranquil landscape. It reminds me of the lines from the tale of the Host of Ihor "The tree weeps and the grass bends with sorrow". My colleague Vyacheslav Huk, a hugely gifted writer, now finds himself separated from his brother in Crimea by Russia's illegal occupation. The border runs through people's minds and hearts separating a world where words mean what they say from a world where lives are worth less than the gas and oil ferried through those long pipelines from Asia through Ukraine.

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Apr 24 2014 11:42AM

It looks as if Russian tanks will soon be smashing through the Apricot Border. Those of you who read Liubov's piece will know that Russia begins where the Apricot trees of Ukraine cease growing. However, Putin has sent special forces into East Ukraine who, along with an ugly mixture of criminals and Nazis, have left Ukraine no alternative to military intervention. The "separatists" have been instructed to shed blood to ensure that Russia has a pretext to invade. I hear Hitler and Stalin guffawing from the afterlife. "You thought things had changed". I know that Ukraine will win ultimately but it seems it must purchase not only its own freedom but that of Russia where the populace seems almost utterly inert, ground underneath the patent leather heel of Putin's jackboot. The world believed that history had ended but it has been reborn on the endless expanse of the Dyke Pole, the Wild Field. Darkness gathers over the Steppe.

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Apr 17 2014 03:56PM

There, where the apricot trees cease, there Russia begins. Liubov Iakymchuk



I am pleased that, as Russia inavades Ukraine, we have been able to publish a blog piece by Luhansk author Liubov Iakymchuk, The apricot border with Russia, or separatism on Skype with PEN Atlas.


When Liubov searched for an image to embody the difference between Russia and Ukraine she realised that the boundary between the cultures was marked by Apricot trees. If you are in East Ukraine in Summer it is impossible not to notice them their fruit falls and explodes on dusty Summer pavements and this fecund landscape, with its smokestack towns open fields and Soviet tower blocks, seems endless. However, the cultivation of apricot trees ceases abruptly at the border and, she tells me, their absence is a part of what separates that so similar landscape with its own smoke stack towns and tower blocks. In addition, of course, the countries are separated by two languages, as distinct as their landscapes, but sharing a complex legacy. The most important difference lies in the hearts of the people. If you read her piece you will gain an insight into the heart of Europe, Ukraine.

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Apr 16 2014 02:38PM



My colleague Ian Robinson replied to a Russian company touting for business with a refreshingly clear e mail. I only hope that Britain's arts and literature communities launch a cultural boycott. Anyway here is Ian's polite way of telling them to get stuffed until they sort their psycho president out:


Dear Sir,

Due to the present political situation concerning the behaviour of the Russian government we decline any opportunity to do business with or have any affiliation with the Russian Federation.


We sincerely hope that this situation will change for the better at some point in the future when Russia not only learns to give its citizens freedom and civil rights but also learns to live peacefully with the sovereignty of its neighbours.


In the meantime please remove us from your mailing list.


Kind regards,


IDR

Ian Douglas Robinson BA(Hons) DipLA CMLI


Principal

Robinson CLA

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Apr 3 2014 05:33PM

I always feel a bit self conscious about my image in photographs. Yes, the ears are out of proportion, the nose huge, the hair reminiscent of a brillo pad. However I was thrilled to see a photograph of myself with Ihor Pavlyuk and Naomi Foyle in Ukrainska Moloda . Ihor has given an interview to the paper about our book A Flight Over the Black Sea. It was great to look at the picture and remember what an honour it was to present the poems to Oxford University Ukrainian Society and hear Naomi Foyle read. This is one of the most successful events in which Kalyna Language Press has been involved. Susie did a lot of work behind the scenes and I only wish she could have been there with us.

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