The Poetics of War: The Experience of Contemporary Ukrainian Literature

June 6, 2024 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Europe, Russia & Eurasia

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Seminar room 108N, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
In Ukrainian literature, the war gave rise to a whole layer of works written by both veteran writers, combatants, and professional writers. These works are strikingly different from works written during the previous wars, including the literature of Ukrainian resistance. The specific realities of the Ukrainian-Russian war (such as its hybridity, the transfer of hostilities to the information space, the use of enemy propaganda and provocation, crimes against Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories and the humanitarian consequences of the occupation, the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons, advocacy for Ukraine abroad, etc.) have led to the search for a new artistic language and new artistic means that Ukrainian literature has not yet had in its arsenal. War is an absurd reality in which each of us is looking for his or her own way to survive the trauma and maintain sanity. It is interesting to see what tools fiction has to describe the realities of war, to live through and comprehend the dramatic experiences and traumas that cannot be avoided in wartime. Using the material of the latest Ukrainian works about the war, Halyna Kruk will analyse the forms and formation of war narratives, the transformation of the documentary into fiction, the depth of existential experiences, and the possibilities of fiction as a therapeutic practice of talking through personal and collective traumatic experiences.
Halyna Kruk (1974) is a poet and prose writer, translator, and scholar from Lviv, Ukraine. She is the author of six books of poetry, The BookWar (2023), An Adult Woman (2017), Co(an)existence (2013), The Face beyond the Photograph (2005), Footprints on Sand and Journeys in Search of a Home (both 1997), collection of short stories Anyone but me (2021), and four books for children. Her Marko Travels Around the World and The Littlest One have been translated into 15 languages. She is a winner of numerous literary awards abroad and in Ukraine, among them The Sundara Ramaswamy Prize, The 2023 Women in Arts Award, The 2022 Kovaliv Fund Prize for her proze book Anyone but me, The Best Book Award of BookForum 2021, Smoloskyp Poetry Award, Bohdan Ihor Antonych Prize and “Hranoslov” Award. She has been shortlisted for shortlist for The 2024 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her works have been translated into more than 30 languages. The latest of Kruk’s books of poems A Crash Course in Molotov Cocktails (2023) and Lost in Living (2024) were published in biligual Ukrainian-English version in U.S. (in translation of Amelia Glaser, Yulia Ilchuk, Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky). Kruk holds a PhD in Ukrainian baroque literature (2001) and is a member of the Ukrainian PEN. She lives in Lviv and teaches European and Ukrainian baroque literature at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv.
Co-Sponsor:  Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies,  St. Volodymyr Institute and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Europe, Russia & Eurasia
Olga Kesarchuk


Halyna Kruk

Poet and prose writer, translator, and scholar

Taras Koznarsky

Associate Professor; Acting Associate Chair, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures