My poetic visit to the prettiest city yet: Lviv, Ukraine for its International Literature Festival, 2017

With author Lyubk Deresh, discussing the political, social, and personal stress and unrest in the lives of people, be it Ukrainian or Indian. But also the joy of multiculturalism, multilingualism, love, tolerance and compassion that holds countries together. With my very capable translator-for-the-session Iryna Kovalchuk.

We discussed the haibun form through ‘Scabbard’ on the color saffron (shafranu) and its various associations from zaffran to zealotry. Then went on to read ‘Rage’. I would have no idea how much the line on Crimea would mean. When I wrote it years ago at home it was jotted unawares. I then read ‘Baby’ and ‘Lake Vostok’ – also talking about Lviv’s buried river Poltva.

By the time I reached the TV interview and read ‘Biscooti love’ no translation was needed. The words had turned simple.

Photo credits: Kvitka Syvenka

I loved what  Iryna remarked about my poetry: SIMPLE, very strong.

I liked what she said of me: “You know who you are. you know what you are doing. You are not waiting for me to like or dislike you. I feel free… un-burdened in your company. You don’t make me feel less or yourself big.”

I replied: “You are not coal to my train. I respect you as a bright and brilliant 21 year old.”

And when a city adorns a statue of its poet and folklorist Taras Shevchenko, you know you are in a safe place.

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