How Fire Descends

Serhii Zhadan


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Yale University Press
5 January 2024
ISBN: 9780300272468
136 pages

From the publisher

A searing testament to poetry's power to define and defy injustice, from iconic writer-activist Serhiy Zhadan

"Among Ukraine's most distinguished writers. . . . Zhadan has borne expert witness to Russia's fire-blasted impingement on his country since the 2014 invasion of Crimea."-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, "Best Poetry of 2023"

Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan has brought international attention to his country's struggle through his unflinching poetry of witness. In this searing testament to poetry's power to define and defy injustice, Zhadan honors the memory of the lost and addresses the living, inviting us to consider what language can offer to a country threatened with extinction. Young lovers, marginalized outsiders, and ordinary citizens pulse with life in a composite portrait of a people newly unified by extremity. Even in the midst of enemy fire, Zhadan's lyrical monuments beat with a subterranean thrum of hope.

With a foreword by the poet Ilya Kaminsky, this selection of Zhadan's poetry, forged entirely in wartime, is an homage to the Ukrainian people, a forceful reckoning with the violence of the past and present, and an act of artistic imagination that breaks with trauma and charts a new future for Ukraine.