BRAMA Theatre Events Workshops Translations Series Newsletter Calendar Store Yara Home

Ukrainian Poetry in Translations: From the Page to the Stage

bilingual (English-Ukrainian) presentation


with appearances by:
Oleh Lysheha,
Victor Neborak,
Serhiy Zhadan,
Lesya Germasymchuk,
Svitlana Barnes,
Virlana Tkacz
and Selina Tusitala Marsh
Featuring imagess and video clips from Yara Arts Group theatre pieces

Sept 17, 2011
at the Lviv Book Forum
Theatre "Voskresinnia"

The presentation started with the question: “What do poems look like when they get translated both on the page and on the stage?” Serhiy Zhadan read two of his poems in Ukrainian, "Alcohol" and "Paprika" that have become favorites at Yara readings and Virlana Tkacz read the English translation which she did with poet Wanda Phipps, her long-time collaborator. Each poem was read first in one language and then in the other, as images of the poem as it was printed appeared on the screen.

Some poems present special graphic challenges. For instance Andriy Bondar, "Roman Alphabet" is in Ukrainian, but on the page it is presented not in the standard Cyrillic but rather is transliterated into the Roman alphabet. The difficult original was read by Lesya Gerasymchuk, standing in for Andriy who had injured his leg the previous day at the first “Poets vs Audiences” soccer match sponsored by the LitFest.

Other poets, such as Victor Neborak, play with the graphic lay-out of the poem. Virlana showed images with examples of his poems and discussed the challenges these pose in translation. Mikhail Semenko, a futurist Ukrainian poet from the 1920s, was extremely fond of visual play and Virlana showed his poem “Village Landscape,” as well as their English solution.

Poems can appear on stage in many different ways. Yara’s production of “Scythian Stones” used Yurko Pozaiak’s poem "Come See Me Tomorrow" both visually, as part of the projections and as the lyrics to a bilingual song. Virlana then showed a video clip of the performance of this song in the show last year by Maria Sonevytsky and Susan Hwang. Yara’s “Scythian Stones” also ended with Oksana Zabuzhko, “Symptoms of Poetry.” Virlana invited translator Svitlana Barnes and New Zealand poet Selina Tusitala Marsh on stage and the three read a bilingual version of the poem that intertwined the two languages.

Afterwards Selina read the English translation of Ludmila Taran’s "India Ink" while Virlana showed images from Yara’s 1995 production “Waterfall/Reflections” that employed the poem as a bi-lingual song. Turning to more recent work, Svitlana read the original of Oksana Lutsyshyn, “I Hear America Singing” and Virlana read the English translation she had completed with Wanda that week.

Oleh Lysheha was then invited on stage and her read of section of his poem “Swan.” Virlana has been fascinated with this work and has used fragments of it as songs in two shows she did with Buryat artist in the 1990s. She staged the entire poem at La MaMa in 2003. She showed a segment of this production of “Swan” on video. Oleh then read a section of his prose piece “De Luminis,” and Virlana showed images of her research on this piece. Then both read "Song 212" and Virlana showed images of the poem being projected on a building as part of the New Ideas Festival” in New York last May.

Virlana then discussed Yara’s art festivals where visual artists are invited to create art works inspired by poems. Works show included an installation by Lviv artists Anna Sidorenko and Sergei Yakunin, a sculpture by Roman Hrab and aperformance art by Marybeth Ward. Svitlana and Virlana read a bilingual version Victoria Stakh’s "Ode to the Brian" which had inspired food artist Olesia Lew. Victor Neborak read his "Fish" and ended  with a bilingual reading with Virlana of his renowned poem "Flying Head"

The second part of the evening was a presentation of poems by New Zealand poet Selina Tusitala Marsh. She kicked off her section by reading a poem she had written the previous day about the high-heeled women of Lviv.


See also:

Serhiy Zhadan, "Alcohol" and "Paprika"
Andriy Bondar, "Roman Alphabet"
Mykhail Semenko, "Village Landscape"
Yurko Pozaiak, "Come See Me Tomorrow"
-- Video clip of "Come See Me Tomorrow" from Yara's "Scythian Stones"
Oksana Zabuzhko, "Symptoms of Poetry"
Ludmila Taran, "India Ink"
Oksana Lutsyshyn, "I Hear America Singing"
Oleh Lysheha, "Swan"
-- Video clip from Yara's "Swan"
Oleh Lysheha "De Luminis" and "Song 212"
Victoria Stakh, "Ode to the Brian"
Victor Neborak, "Fish" and "Flying Head"
Also joining this event and presenting her poetry was Selina Tusitala Marsh from New Zealand with translations by Yuriy Zavadskyi

In photos: (at top of page) book of Yara's translations designed by Rostyslav Luzhetsky featuring Sean Eden and Rebecca Moore in "A Light From the East" photo by Watoku Ueno
Virlana Tkacz talking about projections of poetry on buildings - photo by Lesya Gerasymchuk, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Virlana Tkacz and Svitlana Barnes reading Oksana Zabuzhko and Selina reading her own work - photos by Myroslaw Trofymchuk.

Top of page | Arts & Culture | YARA Homepage

Copyright (c)1995-2011 Yara Arts Group; all rights reserved.
BRAMA Home -- UkraiNEWStand -- Community Press -- Calendar
Advertise on BRAMA -- Search BRAMA
Copyright © 1997-2011 BRAMA,, Inc. All Rights Reserved.