Russo-Ukrainian War

Remembering Maksym “Dali” Kryvtsov, Ukrainian soldier-poet killed at the front, through his work and photos


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On Monday, Maksym “Dali” Kryvtsov, the renowned Ukrainian poet and soldier, would have celebrated his 34th birthday. Instead, his friends, family, and admirers commemorated his recent passing.

Kryvtsov, who killed by Russian forces while performing a combat mission near Kharviv, was honored with an exhibition of his photography “Dali: I’ll turn my life around,” and readings of his poetry at SquatBar, a popular small music venue, bar-cafe and creative space in Kyiv. 


That evening, a line formed outside the bar as people waited for their chance to pay their respects. Inside, Maxim’s Kryvtsov and friends read his poems and sang songs inspired by his poems. With a smile through tears, they recalled many moments associated with him. Earlier,  President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree to award state honors to Maksym Kryvtsov and several cultural figures, inlduing Writer and veteran Volodymyr Vakulenko, and writer and volunteer Viktoria Amelina, who were both also killed by the Russian military. 


Kryvtsov had planned to exhibit his photographs of the war in various places in Kyiv. It was supposed to remind him and other people that Russia is still waging war against Ukraine, and that the army still defends the peaceful life of its people.


“Although Russia took his life, our friend “Dali” had something that could not be killed. His manuscripts and photographs, scanned photos, handwritten and published on social media, re-read poems on the pages of a book. All this work says “I’ll turn my life around,” said Darya Kryzh, co-founder of the Squat 17b cultural project and curator of the exhibition.


The title of the exhibition was derived from a poem penned by Kryvtsov:


“I’ll turn my life around,

I promise.”

In marker on the wall of a

popular spot in Kyiv,

here you will find coffee, pastries, stylish attire, music, and balconies with an incredible view.

I’ve seen

how the fog embraces the skyscraper

gently and quietly.

“Love doesn’t exist,”

written on another floor of this spot.

Nor does the sea,

nor does air,

nor do dreams,

nor me,

but the coffee here is good.

Someone added below:

“Sunshine, who made you think that way?”

Listen, I’ll tell you who:

the swamp, where reaching the blind spot is tough

mines falling nearby,

a winter rope tightly knotted around the neck

parts of a person


lost in the field

whimsically and unkempt

a dream that forces you to scream

rain when you have a few days left to wait for change

and the sunshine

that descends into the basement

because the air alarm


who made you think that way, sunshine?

A short vacation,

a few days with the road,

I meet friends,

mold clay,

for the first time in two years, I bake a cheesecake

which turned out just okay,

with my friend, we watch

as the winter cat catches a street mouse

holding on,

I can breathe

a girl crosses the road

holding a big skinny dog on a leash

the last floors of khrushchyovkas emerge somewhere

like butterfly swimmers

twinkling with garlands

a little more

and I wish to become a part of

the ordinary city again

walk a big dog

fry some eggs

drink coffee in charming bookstores with tall shelves

it’s dangerous

it’s very dangerous

a calm life is an illness

throw away those thoughts

like worn-out slippers

run away from here

to your blind spot

to your swamp

to your mines

I’ll turn my life around

I’ll turn my life around?

I promise.


(translated by Marta Hosovska)


With permission from the exhibition organizers and the copyright holders, we are sharing a selection of the photos currently showcased in the exhibit.


Film, 2023 (?), untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov

“Maksym managed to give me the films and some brief explanations of how he saw the exhibition. This was not enough, of course. We didn’t finish, didn’t talk everything through. I am happy to have the opportunity to show his art to the Ukrainian audience. This is an opportunity for immortalization. And this work will continue from city to city. From coffee shop to coffee shop, from library to library. Wherever this exhibition takes place, people will remember his name,” said Kryzh.


Kateryna Pryimak, a civic activist and friend of Kryvtsov, told Chytomo that his friends plan to establish a foundation bearing his name to honor his legacy through various projects, such as a memorial, a literacy festival and scholarships to support military poets and writers.


“These poets need to be published now, they can die at any time,” Pryimak said. 


You can support this initiative  to commemorate Maksym Kryvtsov here


Film, 2023, untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov


“We were sitting in the back row of the movie theater watching a movie. He was eating cheesy popcorn, stroking my hair, and this cheesy popcorn remained on me. We ran from the cinema to the subway in the rain and he tried to cover me with his jacket. It’s such a simple memory, but it’s very valuable to me,” –  Olena, a friend of Maksym Kryvtsov.


Film, 2023, untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov


“He was very kind. He loved us, he loved everyone. He took great care of us: my father, mother, and sister. He never told us anything special so as not to upset us. He was persistent. He always finished the distance he started running,” – Maksym’s father Oleksandr



photo by Maksym Kryvtsov

Film, 2023 (?), untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov



“What we want most of all is for Maksym to respond. To comment, to give a description of the portrait, to explain what to do with the works. But this will never happen. And we have taken on this responsibility. In our correspondence with Maksym we had some suggestions about how he wanted the exhibition to look like. And we tried to follow those wishes,” representative of the organizers’ team comments.



Film, 2022, untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov


“His comrades-in-arms said that he would come back from surgery with a calm face, and then 2-3 days later a new poem would appear, where he would use extremely powerful metaphors to artistically convey what he had experienced,” – Kateryna Pryimak, a civil activist and friend of Maksym Kryvtsov.’


“Maksym was a very bright person and it is important to continue to carry this light and explain what we are losing in this war and who is being taken away by the Russians. We are losing very clear and strong stories. We are losing people who have fought and are fighting for this country,” co-organizer Maria Kravchenko.


Film, untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov


“I remember his humanity and desire to fight for justice. He went to rallies, and social activities were important to him. He is a fighter for justice, he is a warrior not only at the front,” says Margo, a friend of Maksym Kryvtsov.


Film, 2023, untitled, photo by Maksym Kryvtsov


RELATED: Legacy of bravery: Fallen Ukrainian soldier-poet Maksym Kryvtsov’s work lives on in new poetry edition supporting his family and military