DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES: Ukrainian Poets Respond to the War

May 13, 2023

Carolyn Forche, Marie Howe, Olga Livshin, Lev Friedman, Maya Chabra, Olena Jennings, Vasyl Makhno, Hanna Melnyczuk-Stecewycz, Lyudmyla Khersonska, Yulia Musakovska and others.  Introduced by Askold Melnyczuk

Poets and translators Carolyn Forche, Marie Howe, Olga Livshin, Lev Friedman, Maya Chabra, Olena Jennings, Vasyl Makhno, and Hanna Melnyczuk-Stecewycz will read the work of Halyna Kruk, Lyudmyla Khersonska, Yulia Musakovska and others.  Introduced by Askold Melnyczuk


Maya Chhabra’s translations have appeared in The White Review, Cardinal Points, and PoetryTravels. She is the author of a novel in verse, Chiara in the Dark, and several other children’s books including Stranger on the Home Front. Her short stories and original poetry have appeared in Strange Horizons, Pod Castle, and various anthologies.

Lev Fridman is a speech-language pathologist based in New York City. He has facilitated translationprojects and publications, and his own writing, translations and reviews have appeared in variouspublications. He is co-editor of “Quiet Spiders of the Hidden Soul”: Mykola (Nik) Bazhan’s Early Experimental Poetry (Academic Studies Press, 2020).

Carolyn Forché has published five books of poems, most recently In the Lateness of the World, afinalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2021. Her works also include translations, anthologies, and a memoir.She is a professor at Georgetown University.

Marie Howe is the author of four volumes of poetry: Magdalene: Poems (W.W. Norton, 2017); The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W.W. Norton, 2009); What the Living Do (1997); and The Good Thief (1988). She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (1994). From 2012-2014, she served as the Poet Laureate of New York State. She is the poet in residence at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Olena Jennings is the author of the poetry collection The Age of Secrets (Lost Horse Press, 2022) and the chapbook Memory Project (Underground Books, 2018.) Her novel Temporary Shelter was released in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. Her translation from Ukrainian with Oksana Lutsyshyna of Nobody Knows Us Here, and We Don’t Know Anyone by Kateryna Kalytko was released in September 2022 from Lost Horse Press. Her translation of Vasyl Makhno’s collection Paper Bridge was released in October 2022 from Plamen Press. She co-edited the anthology of poetry Ukrainian American Poets Respond released from Poets of Queens Press and Yara Arts Group. Her textile art has been shown at Bliss on Bliss Art Projects and the NYC Poetry Festival. She is the founder and curator of Poets of Queens.

Olga Livshin’s poetry and translations appear in The New York Times, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, and other journals. She is the author of A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (Poets & Traitors Press, 2019). Livshin is a co-translator of A Man Only Needs a Room, a volume of Vladimir Gandelsman’s poetry (New Meridian Arts Books,2022).

Vasyl Makhno is a Ukrainian poet, prose writer, and essayist. He is the author of fourting collectionsof poetry. He has also published a book of short stories, The House in Baiting Hollow (2015), anovel, The Eternal Calendar (2019), and five books of essays. Makhno’s works have been widely translated into many languages; his books have been published in Germany, Israel, Poland, Romania,Serbia and the US. Three poetry collections, Thread and Other New York Poems (2009), Winter Letters (2011), and Paper Bridge (2022) were published in English translation. He is the recipient of Kovaliv Fund Prize (2008), Serbia’s International Povele Morave Prize in Poetry (2013), the BBC Book of the Year Award (2015), and Ukrainian-Jewish  Literary Prize “Encounter” (2020).

Askold Melnyczuk’s book of stories, The Man Who Would Not Bow, appeared in 2021. His four novels have variously been named a New York Times Notable, an LA Times Best Books of the Year, and an Editor’s Choice by the American Library Association’s Booklist. He is also co-editor of From Three Worlds, an anthology of Ukrainian Writers. His published translations include work by Oksana Zabuzhko, Marjana Savka, Bohdan Boychuk, Ivan Drach, and Hryhorij Skovoroda. His shorter work, includingessays, stories, and reviews, have appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Missouri Review, The Times Literary Supplement (London), The Los Angeles Times, The Harvard Review andelsewhere. He’s received a three-year Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Award in Fiction, the McGinnis Award in Fiction, and the George Garret Award from AWP for his contributions to the literary community. As founding editor of Agni he received PEN’s Magid Award for creating “one of America’s, and the world’s, leading literary journals.” Founding editor of Arrowsmith Press, he has taught at Boston University, Harvard, Bennington College and currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Hanna Melnyczuk-Stecewycz received an MFA from Mass College of Art. Her work has appeared atArt Space in Maynard, MA, University of Massachusetts Lowell Mahoney Gallery, The Gallery at thePiano Factory, the Danforth Museum, Tufts Gallery, Brush Gallery, Fountain Street Gallery, New ArtCenter, and more. She has curated two art exhibits: Agni Magazine of Emerging Artists (published by Agni Press as Agni 37: Standing on the Verge: Emerging Poets & Artists alongside poetry curated byJoseph Lease and Thomas Sayers Ellis); the other, a travelling exhibit of Ukrainian artists’ works,Don’t Close Your Eyes, responding to the current war. Hanna teaches Drawing and 2D Design atUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell, and lives in Groton with her husband Joseph, her daughter Lara,and their cat Tello. You can see more of her work at