Opinion: Remembering Ukrainian poet Victoria Amelina
This is how Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov described the recent Iskander missile strike on the Ria pizza restaurant in Kramatorsk, Ukraine:
"The strike on Kramatorsk was a real beauty," the Colonel General told Russian state television about the rocket attack that killed 13 people, and wounded at least 60. "I bow my head to those who planned it," he continued. "Not a blow, but a song. My old military heart rejoices."
The writer Victoria Amelina was in the restaurant when the missile hit. She died from her injuries a few days later. Victoria Amelina was a novelist, but since Russia's invasion last year, she'd mostly written poetry.
"That's what war leaves you," she told the website of the Goethe Institut. "The sentences are as short as possible, the punctuation a redundant luxury, the plot unclear, but every word carries so much meaning. All this applies to poetry as well as to war."
Victoria Amelina had been working with the human rights group Truth Hounds to document war crimes, and preserve the works of Ukrainian artists who might lose their lives while the books, plays, and paintings into which they poured their hearts and hours are blown up and burned. She wrote for the PEN Ukraine website, "Now there is a real threat that Russians will successfully execute another generation of Ukrainian culture – this time by missiles and bombs."
This is from her poem "About A Crow," translated by Uilleam Blacker:
In a barren springtime field
Stands a woman dressed in black
Crying her sisters' names
Like a bird in the empty sky
She'll cry them all out of herself.
The one that flew away too soon
The one that had begged to die
The one that couldn't stop death
The one that has not stopped waiting
The one that has not stopped believing
The one that still grieves in silence
She'll cry them all into the ground
As though sowing the field with pain
And from pain and the names of women
Her new sisters will grow from the earth
And again will sing joyfully of life
But what about her, the crow?
She will stay in this field forever
Because only this cry of hers
Holds all those swallows in the air
Do you hear how she calls
Each one by her name?
"About A Crow." The name of the writer is Victoria Amelina. She died after a Russian missile strike in Ukraine. She was 37 years old.
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