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Ukraine may be the only country on earth that owes its existence, at least in part, to a poet. Ever since the appearance of Taras Shevchenko's Kobzar
in 1840, poetry has played an outsized role in Ukrainian culture. "Our anthology begins: Letters of the alphabet go to war
and ends with I am writing/ and all my people are writing
," note the editors of this volume, acclaimed poets Carolyn Forch and Ilya Kaminsky. "It includes poets whose work is known to thousands of people, who are translated into dozens of languages, as well as those who are relatively unknown in the West."
These poems offer a startling look at the way language both affects and reflects the realities of war and extremity. This anthology is sure to become the classic text marking not only one of the darkest periods in Ukrainian history, but also a significant moment in the universal struggle for democracy and human rights.