Ihor Pavlyuk

A Flight Over the Black Sea (2014)


Selected Poems Translated by Steve Komarnyckyj

Ihor Pavlyuk invites us to roam the forests of Ukraine with him while swigging vodka from a hip flask and watching pagan gods flicker among the birches. These poems combine beautifully wrought metaphors, transforming a shooting star into ‘candlelight glimpsed through water’ with an ancient landscape inhabited by pagan gods. Pavlyuk abandoned his studies at the St. Petersburg Military University to pursue a career as a poet, and was jailed as a result, prior to embarking on a life of rhyme. English translations of his visionary poems have appeared in Acumen, Asymptote and Envoi. Pavlyuk’s numerous poetry collections include Islands of Youth (Острови юності, 1990), Magma (Магма, 2005), Ukraine in Smoke (Україна в диму, 2009), Masculine Fortune Telling (Чоловічі ворожіння, 2013). His work has been translated into several languages including English, French, Polish, Russian and Japanese, and his position in world poetry is paid testament to by the endorsement from Nobel Laureate Mo Yan inside this book. However, Pavlyuk remains rooted in Ukraine and remains one of Europe’s most versatile poets — quite literally: he recently delivered an entire reading stood on his head. These poems contain moments delicate as snowflakes: ‘The fragrance of crushed mint at dusk,/ The leaves yearning to fall/ Before the snow comes’. The sweet yearning of this poetry will remain with you long after you have turned the final page.

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906742-70-6 Category:

Praise and Poems

Although Pavlyuk writes in his own highly original style, the fierce humanity of his poems reminded me of Seamus Heaney. There is also a sense, as in Heaney, of how intrinsically linked the present is with the past, our language, and our landscape scattered with pagan remnants which live inside each of us. However, Pavlyuk’s pagans are very much alive and dwell in the primal landscape of Polissya with its impenetrable forests and marshes.
Steve Komarnyckyj

Ihor Pavlyuk’s poems have been sensitively rendered into English. The subtle music of Steve Komarnykyj’s translations echoes the delicate depths of the poet’s visions, where despair is infused with tenderness and desire sips from the well of collective dreams.
Naomi Foyle

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