Standing with Ukraine

By Faber Editor, 2 March (updated 15 March) 2022

As the horrific invasion of Ukraine unfolds, we share stories, poems and links from Faber poets and authors connected to Ukraine and Russia.

Poet Ilya Kaminsky, author of collections Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa, sent us this message:

I was born in Odessa, a city on the steppes of Ukraine, bordering the Black Sea. It’s famous for the Potemkin Stairs, a long staircase running from the bay to the city. Odessa is a place I return to quite often. These days, I ask myself if I will be able to come back — or not, given the circumstances.

This morning, my cousin in Odessa wrote to say he woke up to an air-raid. I looked online and saw a video of regular people — accountants and dock workers and short-order cooks — gathered around the base of the stairs, building fortifications for the inevitable invasion of the city by Russian troops. Today’s partisans. Odessa is a city of good humour, where 1 April is the most important holiday — more celebrated than even Christmas — the holiday of ‘kind humour’. When I think of the Russian troops arriving at the bay, I imagine them in their heavy gear, trying to huff and puff up the stairs, with Ukrainians throwing molotov cocktails, and stones. My grandfathers fought the German tanks on tractors, literally. It feels like something out of a movie or a poem — but it is real. The city trembles.
Ilya Kaminsky
1 March 2022

Ilya Kaminsky

Described as ‘a rich, reverberative dance with memories of a haunted city’ (LA Times), the poems of the prize-winning debut Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky draw on archetype, myth and Russian literary figures.

Read the title poem from the collection here.

More from Ilya Kaminsky:

You can follow Ilya on Twitter at @ilya_poet.

Read an article by Ilya Kaminsky on on Ukrainian, Russian and the language of war.

Read a profile of Ilya Kaminsky in the Guardian.

Read a CNN article featuring Ilya published on 2 March.

History and Politics

For more on the background to the war, and especially Vladimir Putin’s disastrous legacy for Russia:

Luke Harding is an award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian newspaper and is reporting from Kyiv at the moment. A former Moscow bureau chief, he has written three books for Guardian Faber about Putin’s Russia. In 2011 the Kremlin expelled him from the country in the first case of its kind since the Cold War.

Read Luke Harding in the Guardian here and listen to him on a Guardian podcast published this week: Comedian, president, warrior: the transformation of Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Born in Kyiv, Peter Pomerantsev is a Senior Fellow at the LSE and a Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, studying twenty-first-century information manipulation and how to fix it. His book Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia was published in 2017.

This Is Not Propaganda, published in 2020, is also relevant to current events. Forty years after his dissident parents were pursued by the KGB, Pomerantsev finds the Kremlin re-emerging as a great propaganda power. His research takes him back to Russia – but the answers he finds there are surprising.

Peter Pomerantsev wrote an article for the Observer on Sunday about Vladimir Putin: read it here.

Simon Armitage

The UK’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has written a poem titled ‘Resistance’, which was ‘written in solidarity with Ukraine’. The poem was published in the Guardian, and you can read it here.