Book Release: The Voices of Babyn Yar

July 19, 2022
The Voices of Babyn Yar by Marianna Kiyanovska

The Voices of Babyn Yar by Marianna KiyanovskaHURI is pleased to announce the release of The Voices of Babyn Yar, a poignant collection of poetry by award-winning poet Marianna Kiyanovska. The poems are translated by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, with an introduction by Polina Barskova.

Available in hardcover and paperpack, this collection presents the English translation alongside the original Ukrainian. The Voices of Babyn Yar is the latest publication in the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature series. 

ISBN 9780674268760
160 pages
4 illustrations

ISBN 9780674268869
160 pages
4 illustrations


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The Voices of Babyn Yar cover and open book

Book Description

With The Voices of Babyn Yar—a collection of stirring poems by Marianna Kiyanovska—the award-winning Ukrainian poet honors the victims of the Holocaust by writing their stories of horror, death, and survival by projecting their own imagined voices. Artful and carefully intoned, the poems convey the experiences of ordinary civilians going through unbearable events leading to the massacre at Kyiv’s Babyn Yar from a first-person perspective to an effect that is simultaneously immersive and estranging. While conceived as a tribute to the fallen, the book raises difficult questions about memory, responsibility, and commemoration of those who had witnessed an evil that verges on the unspeakable.

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Table of Contents

(Note: Read the linked poems in the list below in open access online.)

Introduction: Writing the Disaster in Tongues: Marianna Kiyanovska’s Voices of Babyn Yar [Polina Barskova]
Preface: Voices from the Edge: Translation, Memory, and Mourning [Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky]
The Voices of Babyn Yar
eyes filled with tears so dense they won’t flow
only now can I speak of this
I hold a bullet under my tongue
I would collapse in the street right here
hundreds of streets could fill this vastness
I’m nearing, nearing, near
the mundane has vanished
I won’t save a soul
Africa Africa
I fed my cat with saliva
happiness is present and eternal
if I survive I’ll simply be a tato
at the train station two found rest
I really don’t know if I’m afraid
rebbe Leivi Yitzhak Shneyerson
I’m here I’m he I get up off my knees
this war—so long I nearly grew up
these last parting moments should they be forgotten
there was terror yet
tears are not a solace
in order to bear witness I need not survive
this yar is like the world
Jews with suitcases large awkward bags
the future will hold me no more tonight in the twilight
to the yar call those with guns
and yet I will utter it
the window’s gaping open, glass panes gone
in the room there hung
I don’t know if it’s possible to cry
achingly carefully
my bedridden mother begged me
throat felt terribly sore today
I’ll lie just as I fell
these streets lie in ruins
rebbe taught nobody’s immortal
world has started to stink
sun-drenched days under occupation
this morning I studied the mirror
midnight coughing so hard it makes the walls shake
I’m putting together a collection in these final weeks
I tripped and fell Abraham said
there may be hope yet
now all of this, I say, let it be over
once I danced was a dancer in a ballet maybe
sweet-tasting poison slow-flowing
we’re like fish, pike and perch
our neighbors came by they say we must stay together
what has changed: there are rats in abundance
weeping I walk turning around looking back I weep
the before means that tato is home with a smile on his face
it seems to me I’m deafeningly silent
dog at the door, I didn’t know how to speak to it
I thought it surely couldn’t get any worse
all happening at once: the bullets and the apples
this ultimate naming of things that I now attempt
we used to go fishing, me and the boys
we shall not make history we are the nobodies
tears turn into crystalline grus
old age creeps up when I read the news
my clothing fits loosely haven’t had any food for days
we used to come here to build a bonfire
up to this day I lived like anyone
this is the yar where Hans does his work
this is the poem with which I scream

The Voices of Babyn Yar back cover and open book

About the Author

Marianna Kiyanvska is an award-winning Ukrainian writer, translator, literary scholar, and public figure whose works have been translated into eighteen languages. She is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, prose, and literary translation. A winner of the Vilenica International Literary Festival and the CEI Fellowship (2007), she was also awarded the Gloria Artis Medal for Merit to Culture in Poland (2013). In 2020, she was recognized with the prestigious Taras Shevchenko Prize for The Voices of Babyn Yar.

Publication of this book has been made possible by the Ukrainian Research Institute Fund and the generous support of publications in Ukrainian studies at Harvard University by the following benefactors:

  • Ostap and Ursula Balaban
  • Jaroslaw and Olha Duzey
  • Vladimir Jurkowsky
  • Myroslav and Irene Koltunik
  • Damian Korduba Family
  • Peter and Emily Kulyk
  • Irena Lubchak
  • Dr. Evhen Omelsky
  • Eugene and Nila Steckiw
  • Dr. Omeljan and Iryna Wolynec
  • Wasyl and Natalia Yerega

Preparation of this translation was supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Publication of this book was made possible, in part, by a translation grant from the Peterson Literary Fund at BCU Foundation (Toronto, Canada). The Peterson Literary Fund recognizes the best books that promote a better understanding of Ukraine or the Ukrainian people, or whose subject matter is relevant to a global Ukrainian audience.