Ukrainian Poet’s Collection Shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize


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Ukrainian poet Halyna Kruk’s book “A Crash Course in Molotov Cocktails” has been shortlisted for the prestigious international Griffin Poetry Prize, as announced on the prize’s website.


The poet wrote most of the collection after February 24th in Ukrainian and English.


“These stunning poems of witness by one of Ukraine’s most revered poets are in turn breathless, philosophical, and visionary. In a dark recapitulation of evolution itself, Kruk writes: ‘nothing predicted the arrival of humankind…./ nothing predicted the arrival of the tank…’ Her taut, lean lines can turn epigrammatic: “what will kill you will seduce you first,” or they can strike you like Lomachenko’s lightening jabs: “flirt, Cheka agent, bitch.” Leading readers into the world’s darkest spaces, Kruk implies that the light of language can nevertheless afford some measure of protection. Naming serves as a shield, albeit a wooden one. The paradox is that after the bullets have been fired and the missiles landed, the wooden shield, the printed book, reconstitutes itself,” reads the annotation to the publication.





Yulia Ilchuk, an Associate Professor of Slavic Literature and Culture at Stanford University, and Amelia M. Glaser, a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego, translated the collection.


After the announcement, the book soared to the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers category in Russian & Soviet Poetry.*


*The name of the category faced criticism from the Ukrainian literary community, which does not recognize Ukrainian poetry as either “Russian” or “Soviet.”


Previously, this collection was nominated for the Sundara Ramaswamy Prize.


The Griffin Poetry Prize is one of the world’s most distinguished awards for poetry. It bestows two literary prizes of $65,000 each — the Canadian Prize, awarded to a living poet/translator, and the International Prize, presented to a living poet/translator from any country worldwide, including Canada. Other shortlisted poets receive $10,000 each.


As reported, a song based on Halyna Kruk’s poem has been composed.


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Main image: PEN


Translation: Ilona Babkina

Copy Editing: Terra Friedman King