International Book Arsenal Festival

In memory of Victoria Amelina: Poetry reading at the International Book Arsenal Festival


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The first day of the International Book Arsenal Festival featured a memorial poetry reading from the book “Testimony” by Victoria Amelina. The book was published by the Old Lion Publishing House and edited by Ukrainian author and poet Halyna Kruk.

The poetry event was moderated by Ukrainian journalist and author Olena Huseinova, and presented by:


  • Tetiana Teren, journalist, executive director of PEN Ukraine;
  • Kateryna Mikhalitsyna, author and translator;
  • Volodymyr Yermolenko, philosopher, essayist, translator;
  • Alim Aliev, deputy director general of the Ukrainian Institute, co-founder of the CrimeaSOS NGO;
  • Myroslava Barchuk, journalist and TV presenter;
  • Tetiana Pylypchuk, the director of the Kharkiv Literature Museum;
  • Olesya Zdorovetska, performer, composer and curator;
  • Olya Rusina, author and journalist;
  • Marichka Masyuk, author.


The thing is that we saw Victoria here, at this exact place. On a Sunday in June last year, the 2023 International Book Arsenal Festival ended. It was the first one held since the full scale invasion began. We all felt a bit surreal. It seemed as if we didn’t deserve to be here, enjoying ourselves, drinking coffee, talking, reading books. On Monday, Amelina drove to Kramatorsk, and on Tuesday, a Russian missile hit the restaurant where she was and we lost Vika. Last year, the International Book Arsenal Festival opened with an event that was very important to Victoria. It was dedicated to the memory of Volodymyr Vakulenko, the Ukrainian author whose diary Victoria found dug in his garden under a cherry tree. This year, the Arsenal is also opened by Vika, but she will speak our voices

Olena Huseynova said. She also mentioned the death of paramedic and journalist Iryna Tsybukh.



Olena Huseinova spoke about the publication of Victoria Amelina’s poetry book “Testimony,” and introduced the publisher Marjana Savka and editor Halyna Kruk.


“Vika was very attentive towards the thing she wrote — she needed feedback on whether poetry can be about what we are experiencing, and where to draw the line to record our states, our experiences, and comprehend this time period through poetry in its purest form. Vika asked me to take a look at her work with my “editorial eye.” The truth is, her writing did not require any intervention. This is because none of us really knows how to write about all what is happening to us. After we lost Vika, I remembered many things we talked about, and I immediately looked back at our correspondence. I promised her I would edit her book back then. In fact, it’s a very difficult experience when you have to edit something, and those texts have already been edited by death. Death imposes the understanding that the author can neither correct nor intervene in these texts. In fact, it makes the most sense to leave these texts exactly as they were,” Halyna Kruk commented.


Ukrainian edition of “Testimony” by Victoria Amelina


Marjana Savka said that Victoria explained how she saw the visual design of the book. “These poems are testimonies, Savka explained. “A journalist asked me about what can be put into this word. And for us, the book that was born is a continuation of Vika and her work,” she added.


“Most of the poem’s protagonists have real prototypes. The afterword is a chronology that helps us see who Vika met and talked to. For example, the poem about returning home — it was a meeting with displaced people in Lviv,” expressed Sofia Cheliak.


Images: Book Arsenal, Daryna Holovan

Copy editing: Terra Friedman King