Oksana Maksymchuk

 

Oksana Maksymchuk is a bilingual Ukrainian American poet, scholar, and literary translator. Her poetry appeared or is forthcoming in AGNICincinnati Review, The Irish Times, The Poetry Review, and many other journals. Judges Cole Swensen, Oliver de la Paz, and Maggie Smith named Oksana’s manuscript Tongue Ties a finalist for Tupelo Press’s Snowbound, Berkshire, and Dorset prizes, and individual poems and translations had been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In the Ukrainian, she is the author of poetry collections Xenia and Lovy and a recipient of Ihor-Bohdan Antonych and Smoloskyp prizes, two of Ukraine’s top awards for younger poets. Oksana’s translations were featured in such venues as Modern Poetry in TranslationWords Without BordersPoetry International, and Best European Fiction series from Dalkey Archive Press, while her translation of Lyuba Yakimchuk's "Prayer" was performed by the author at the 2022 Grammy Awards Ceremony. With Max Rosochinsky, she co-edited Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, an anthology of contemporary Ukrainian poetry, reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement and featured in Paris Review and The New York Times. Oksana won first place in the Richmond Lattimore and Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender translation competitions and was awarded a National Endowments for the Arts Translation Fellowship. She is the co-translator of Apricots of Donbas, a collection of selected poems by Lyuba Yakimchuk, reviewed in TLS and featured in The New York Times and Washington Post, among others; and The Voices of Babyn Yar, a book by Marianna Kiyanovska, poems from which were broadcast on BBC and CBC radio. Oksana holds a PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University and was recently a Writer in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Central European University. She lives in Lviv, Ukraine.

Poems

“Reconfigured Connections,” “A Lullaby with No Theodicy,” and “Still Life of a Person with a Pug,” The Poetry Review, Fall 2022

“Warm, Warmer,” “The Fourth Wall,” and “Post-Truth,” AGNI, Fall 2022

“A Guest from War,” “Duck-Rabbit,” “Unverified Footage,” “Centipede,” “Revisions,” and “Wave and Particle,” The Manhattan Review, Fall 2022

“Editorial Efforts,” “Erotic Patterns,” and “Cat’s Odyssey,” Southern Indiana Review, Fall 2022

“Digital Mapping of a Massacre,” “Ambush,” and “Emergency Bag,” Poetry London, Fall 2022

“Before the Departure,” Missouri Review Online, Poem of the Week, August 2022

“Cherry Orchard,” The Irish Times, Poem of the Week, June 4, 2022

“Advice to a Young Poem” and “Awaiting the Invasion,” The Continental Literary Magazine, Issue 3, June 2022

“Personal Credo,” New Orleans Review, Issue 48, Spring/Summer 2022

“The Hunger of the Famished” and “Siberian Transit,” The Cincinnati Review 19.1, July 8, 2022, 85-88

“Material Resistance,” Hawaiʻi Pacific Review, April 25, 2022

“Signs of Life” and “Missed Connections,” CrazyHorse, Issue 101, Spring 2022

“Birdwatchress,” Nimrod, Spring 2022

“Essential Parenting,” Hunger Mountain, Issue 25, Spring 2021, 290

“Orphanage,” a selection of three poems, Sugar House Review, Issue 21, Fall/Winter 2020, 85-86

“Suspicious Activity,” and “Alla Through the Looking Glass,” Blackbird 19.2, Fall 2020

 “Child in a Bulb,” a selection of four poems, Solstice, Summer 2020

“The Art of Mnemonics,” Tar River Poetry 59.1, Fall 2019 (Pushcart-nominated), 51

“Veteran Sleeper,” Prairie Schooner 92.3, Fall 2018, 69-70

“In the Wake of a Disaster,” The Common, Issue 16, October 29, 2018

“The Colonizing Instinct,” The Meadow, 2018 Annual Issue, 149

“Active Shooter Drill at My Son's Elementary School,” “A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Woman,” “Nativity Scene Under the Chicken Coop,” The Lake, Spring 2018

“The Home Makers,” The Common, Online Feature, March 2018

“Reading a Poem in Farsi,” The Cimarron Review, 2017, Issue 50, 31

“Safety Concerns,” Salamander, Issue 44, June 2017

“Selva Oscura,” “Father and Daughter,” “Whore,” The New Orleans Review, Fall 2016
 
 

Books

The Voices of Babyn Yar is a bilingual collection of poems dedicated to the Babyn Yar massacre of 1941. Artful and carefully intoned, the poems present the experiences of ordinary civilians from a first-person perspective to an effect that is simultaneously immersive and estranging. Conceived as a tribute to the fallen, the book also raises challenging questions about memory, responsibility, and honoring those who had witnessed an evil that, some may say, verges on the unspeakable.
Apricots of Donbas­ is a bilingual collection of poetry by Lyuba Yakimchuk, one of Ukraine’s most distinguished younger poets. Reflecting the complex emotional experiences of a civilian witnessing a gradual disintegration of her familiar surroundings, Yakimchuk’s poetry is versatile, ranging from sumptuous verses about the urgency of erotic desire in a war-torn city to imitations of child-like babbling about the tools and toys of military combat. Playfulness in the face of catastrophe is a distinctive feature of Yakimchuk’s voice, evoking the legacy of the Ukrainian Futurists of the 1920s.
How does one find words to write about war? The armed conflict in the east of Ukraine brought about an emergence of a distinctive genre in contemporary Ukrainian poetry: the poetry of war. The anthology Words for War brings together some of the most compelling poetic voices from different regions of Ukraine. Young and old, female and male, somber and ironic, tragic and playful, filled with extraordinary terror and ordinary human delights, the voices recreate the human sounds of war in its tragic complexity.
 
 

Translations

Poetry
 

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Decomposition,” in Writing from Ukraine: Fiction, Poetry and Essays since 1965. Edited by Mark Andryczyk. New York: Penguin Books, 2022

Serhiy Zhadan, four poems [trans. with Sasha Dugdale], Modern Poetry in Translation, June 2022

Marianna Kiyanovska, “Eyes Filled with Tears So Dense They Won’t Flow,” CBC Feature on Women and War, May 5, 2022

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Prayer,” Washington Post, February 2022

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Yum Appears,” “Making up the Enemy,” “Hiding Together,” and “How Yum Was Born,” Willow Springs, Issue 88, Fall 2021 (Pushcart-nominated)

Marianna Kiyanovska, a selection of seven poems, Ukrainian Literature, Vol. 6, 2021

Yanis Sinaiko, a selection of nine poems, Ukrainian Literature, Vol. 6, 2021

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Ashtray,” “Friends in Common,” and “Asylum, a Dance,” Washington Square Review, Issue 46, Spring 2021

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Press Two,” Crossed Lines: Literature & Telephony, Nottingham Trent University, May 2020

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Funeral Services” and Borys Humenyuk, “When you clean your weapon,” Poetry International, Print Issue 25/26, 2019.

Vasyl Stus, “Cannibals,” “Alcohol of Agony,” and “Morning Augury,” Loch Raven Review 14.2, November 2018

Oksana Lutsyshyna, “The Cat,” Loch Raven Review 14.2, November 2018

Marianna Kiyanovska, selected poems from Babyn Yar with an introduction, Poetry International , December 2017

Oksana Lutsyshyna, “I Dream of Explosions,” and “He asks, don’t help me,” Modern Poetry in Translation, Issue 3, 2017

Borys Humenyuk, “Our platoon commander is a strange fellow,” Cordite Poetry Review, May 2017

Yulia Fintiktikova, “My Neighbors,” “The Planetary Crisis,” “The Moutherland Oration,” and “Creature,” Poetry International Online, February 2017

Yulia Fintiktikova, “Mysteries of the Fields,” and “Whether I Puff on a Pipe, Leaning on Greenwich,” SAND Magazine, Issue 15, 2017

Andrei Polyakov, “We’ll return, me and you, my Moon, to the world,” “It may be the stars, it may be the snow,” and “The Tea Room Orthodoxy,” Poetry International Online, March 2017

Lyuba Yakimchuk, “Crow, Wheels,” Words Without Borders, April 2016

Anastasia Afanasieva, “Untitled,” The London Magazine, April-May 2015

 

Short Stories

 

Tania Malyarchuk, “A Woman and Her Fish,” in Vilenica Almanac, September 2013, 238-241; also in Berlin Quarterly, Issue 2, Summer 2014

Tania Malyarchuk, “Me and My Sacred Cow,” in Best European Fiction 2013. Edited by Aleksandar Hemon. Champaign: Dalkey Archive Press, 2012, 189-201

 
 

Praise for Words for War

Stephanie Sandler

Harvard University

"We necessarily come to these poems in a time of war, and that war’s grotesque political dimensions and endless violence are painfully felt on these pages. But these are poems that should command our attention even in a time of peace, should it ever come to our troubled planet: these are poems in which the spirit of creative imagination, free expression, emotional clarity, and ethical courage reigns supreme."

About translations

The Joseph Brodsky Stephen Spender Prize 2014

Judges' Reports

"Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky's 'Untitled' by Anastasia Afanasieva is such a new translation, of such a new poem, on such a brand new miserable reality not so far away – Eastern Ukraine – that at every round I would think, merely, 'there's nothing much wrong with this for what it is' until there it still was, at the top of the pile, because it's so beautifully phrased, its movements are so authentic in terms of what's seen and felt, and its line-breaks are flawless. It manages without any punctuation whatever (except the colon at the top, which is introductory and perhaps unnecessary) and simply lets voice and silence ebb and flow, go on, get by, down the page and through the bleak day. There's nothing else it can do, it does nothing else, does it superbly."

— Glyn Maxwell

"Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky's rendition of Anastasia Afanasieva's poignant and creatively bald portrait of the tragedy of civil war in Eastern Ukraine is evoking life's fragility with discreet craft."

"Maksymchuk and Rosochinsky's version of Vladimir Gandelsman's 'Ode to a Dandelion' was marvelously rhythmic and expertly captured the offhand reflectiveness of the original." 

—Catriona Kelly, 

Oxford University

"The winning translation of Anastasia Afanasieva's poem about surviving the war in Eastern Ukraine combined a thoughtful and compassionate approach with perfect instinct for phrase, line break and rhythm. This apparently artless poem is constructed from snippets of narrative: the sort of thing you might hear in a news broadcast or on social media about a distant war. But it requires the translator to dig very deep and to filter the words through our own language's consciousness of war and survival in order to shape a poem in English that moves with the precisely awful banalities of war and comes to rest delicately and finally, 'if so, then we must be experiencing / moments after death'."

—Sasha Dugdale

Modern Poetry in Translation