WE PAW Bloggers E-zine — Issue 03242022

This issue is mirror published on the editor’s Medium profile

The “Write to Cope” issues are curated collections of current events writes. WE PAW member Author, Amy Reade was asked to write our lead about what the women of Ukraine. The rest of our contributors were asked to share essays on women authors and/or artists of Ukraine, in honor of Women’s History Month.

Please share this reading and take care of yourselves. And, keep writing.

Women of Ukraine at War

I’ve watched the news from Ukraine over the past month, like millions around the world, with a growing sense of horror, sadness, and unease.

Women, unborn children, men, the elderly, children and youth… people of every race and creed are being indiscriminately brutalized in unimaginable ways.

My heart bleeds for each of those poor souls. But, because I am a woman and a mom, I feel the deepest connection with Ukrainian women and children.

We see them on television, in newspapers, and online. Some are crying, some defiant, others angry. Most are overwhelmed. Their courage and determination in the face of unprovoked attacks on their homes, families, cities, culture, their very existence, is nothing short of miraculous.

These women are suffering. Many of them have been forced to leave their homes — and often their country. They’ve left behind husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers because adult men are required to stay to fight. These women have taken on the responsibility of relocating themselves, their children, and their elderly family members and neighbors to other places around the world — places where people might not speak their language. These women lost their jobs, their homes, and their sense of security. Many don’t know where they’ll end up or whether there will be shelter and food for them when they arrive.

They undertake these duties with dignity and bravery. They, just as much as the men who stay behind to fight, are ensuring the survival of the next generation of Ukraine’s leaders, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs — the youth on whose shoulders it will fall to rebuild Ukraine someday.

But here’s something that occurred to me as I started to write this:

“Cope” and “Hope” are very similar words.

They sound almost the same. They look almost the same. And their meanings are connected, too.

One does not exist without the other.

I have no doubt the women of Ukraine will continue to cope with the dreadful circumstances they find themselves in because, if there’s one thing we have seen from images broadcast from Ukraine, it’s hope… hope this war will end, that their loved ones will be able to fight off unfounded assaults on their way of life, that they will return to Ukraine someday soon, that their children will grow up in peace and security.

Remember, too, the mothers, wives, and daughters of Russian soldiers. From all the information we’ve been given, it seems clear no one knew they were being sent to war. Their mothers did not know their sons were in mortal danger when they said good-bye. Yes, this is an unjust war, but moms in Russia love their sons as much as we do in the rest of the world.

And remember this: we’re seeing the war play out in the media, but there have been other wars in recent years that have not received as much media attention as this one. Those women suffered greatly, too. They, like the women of Ukraine, lost their homes, their incomes, their way of life. Keep them in your thoughts, too.

I am pleased to be part of Authors for Ukraine, a charity auction featuring books from 150+ authors. I invite you to visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsforUkraine and like the page.

From 8 a.m. on 3/29 until 11 p.m. on 4/12, you’ll be able to bid on signed books from great writers. ALL PROCEEDS will benefit CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund.

By Author, Amy Reade

Artist, Iryna Potapenko 🇺🇦

“Art is not always about pretty things. It’s about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected.” — Elizabeth Broun

How much do life experiences influence art? The two invariably go hand in hand in my opinion.

For an artist, one cannot exist without the other — for art is life and life is art. Art helps the artist process what’s going on around her.

Image taken from her Saatchi Art profile

When I was asked to write a piece about a Ukrainian artist, I must admit I hadn’t a clue of any. However, I didn’t have to search long when I discovered Iryna Potapenko.

Originally from Chernihiv, Iryna lives in Odessa, Ukraine with her husband, Aleksei and dog, Elya. She is an illustrator and a painter who enjoys creating art in her garden. Her work are vibrant and cheerful. People across many countries have bought her artwork to decorate their homes.

What began as a hobby became a passionate career where her experiences include the Odessa Film Studio as well as a wide variety of serial projects such as Auntie Owl’s Lessons. Prior to the invasion, she was working with various Ukrainian publishing houses as an illustrator.

Images from artist’s Facebook profile titled, “Do Not Leave Me” (left), “Why” (center) and “Refugee” (right).

Since February 24th, Iryna has been spending her days painting in between air raid alerts not knowing if her own home would be hit. Her paintings now include the reality of war which is not so cheerful — yet it is through art she is managing her anxiety and a fearful new reality.

“I feel really frightened but I keep on painting. Painting helps me stay alive and tell what is happening in my country. I want people to know and remember Ukrainians who are fighting evil to get their freedom back. But it hurts to see how civilians suffer — women, children, and elders. And I am going to try and go on painting.” ~taken from the artist’s profile on Saatchi Art.

If you’re on Facebook, Iryna records her experiences and thoughts (War Diaries) as well as her artwork on her page .

All artworks are from her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ikarkenta

Other source of information taken from: https://www.saatchiart.com/potapenko

By Carrie Adams Golden

Lina Kostenko — Ukraine’s Mightiest Pen 🇺🇦

photo: in2english.net/

“And in the uniqueness of every moment seeks the path from pain to a pearl.” ~So speaks the timeless wisdom of Ukrainian poet Lina Kostenko.

Born on March 19, 1930 in the Kyiv region of Ukraine, Kostenko learned about the path from pain to pearl at a young age. As a child, she saw her father sent to a Soviet labor camp known as the Gulag as an “enemy of the people.” In 1943, at the height of the Second World War, her home village of Trukhavov Island was destroyed by German soldiers. Years later, this event would be the subject of her poem “I grew up in Kyivan Venice”.

After high school, Kostenko studied at a Ukrainian university in Kyiv. In 1956 she graduated with distinction from a literary institute in Moscow. She became part of the Sixtiers, an organization of artists and writers who were active in the late 1950s and 1960s. The group’s most notable poet, Kostenko wrote several collections during this era. These include The Rays of the Earth in 1957, Sails in 1958, and Wandering of the Heart in 1961. Her work was particularly popular with Ukrainian readers.

In the early 1960s, she was attacked by Soviet critics who claimed that her poetry was “disconnected from real life.” She rebelled against the Soviet establishment and signed letters of protest. In 1966, Kostenko was blacklisted as “not suitable for print” and was not published for sixteen years.

Over the years that she was banned from publishing, Kostenko continued writing. One of her greatest works. Marusia Churai, a historical novel written in verse, earned Kostenko the 1987 Tera Shevchenko Prize, the highest award of Ukraine for works of culture and art.

Kostenko’s work effortlessly combines the sophisticated and the colloquial. In one piece, the reader might recognize both humorous irony and biting satire.

Kostenko’s poetry professes the responsibility of a poet in an oppressive society. Her work also speaks of the beauty of nature and the importance of love and sincerity. Her words remind us of what it means to be human.

Let’s put aside all matters that are pressing
Until I’ve seen enough of sun and green,
Have had long talks with all good folks
It’s not the time that passes,
We are passing…

- Lina Kostenko

By Rita Lange Severino

Khrystia Vengryniuk 🇺🇦

Poet, Novelist, Editor, and Artist

Words. Are powerful.

Words. Matter.

Words. Can change the world.

Words are as necessary as oxygen to a writer. In times of great crisis or deep despair, words can offer hope, inspire action, and perhaps, ultimately, to heal bitter wounds.

Words can begin and end violence. Words can encourage a sovereign nation to fight for their freedom and not give up hope.

Photo credit: Facebook Profile

Khrystia Vengryniuk is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, editor, and artist currently hunkered down in her beloved hometown of Chernivtsi, with her Bulgarian-born husband and the unborn baby she is carrying — a child that will share Chernivtsi as their birthplace, but live in much different times. Times that are frightening and uncertain.

Khrystia’s literature career began when she was seventeen years old with the publication of the prose collection “Catharsis” (2002). She has published other essays and poetry collections, including co-authoring a number of anthologies. Her novel “The Farm America” (2013) was featured by the BBC as one of Ukraine’s “Best Books of the Year.” She is also the editor-in-chief at Chornivivtsi, Ukraine’s top publisher of children’s books.

Find a translation here of her poem, “With a Pair of Wolves I Walk Over the Stones”

But now, she is using words to support local efforts to provide aid to the Ukrainian army and the over-whelming number of refugees. You can follow her on FB where powerful words express her fear, her anger, her resolve, and perhaps, soon, hope. Elusive hope for freedom and the safety of her family, her neighbors, her country.

Read some of her updates from war-torn Ukraine here on her Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/khrystiavengryniuk

By Renea Dijab

By Renea Dijab

Ukrainian author Oksana Zabuzhko has written more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

Image Source: European Literature Network

Her novel, “Field Work in Ukrainian Sex” in 1996 was named “the most influential Ukrainian book for the 15 years of independence” in 2006. It is the most widely translated work of new Ukrainian prose in the world, interpreted in 15 languages, and is included in many lists and ratings of modern Eastern European books.

Her most famous book in the non-fiction genre is “Notre Dame d’Ukraine: A Ukrainian Woman in the Conflict of Mythologies,” published in 2007.

Zabuzhko’s second novel, “Museum of Abandoned Secrets,” deals with Ukraine’s resistance and opposition to the Soviet colonial regime in the 20th century. It describes the reality of the relations between the countries that within the structure of the USSR were seen by the West only in the context of the myth of the “friendships of nations,” a myth that Putin would still like to perpetuate.

Her book “Let My People Go,” won the Korrespondent magazine’s Best Ukrainian documentary book award in June 2006.

One important feature of Zabuzhko’s writing is that it is “turned outward” to the world, to be accessible to the Western reader. Her work is categorized as belonging to the generation that Ukrainian literary scholar Tamara Hundorova calls “post-Chornobyl,” marking the end of any validity of the Soviet Union’s ideology and the beginning of the new Ukrainian society and literature

The 61-year-old writer graduated from Kyiv Shevchenko University with a degree in philosophy. She obtained her Ph.D. in philosophy of arts and has spent time in the United States lecturing as a Fulbright Fellow and a Writer-in-Residence at Penn State, Harvard, and Pittsburgh.

She made her poetry debut at age 12, but because her parents had been blacklisted during the Soviet purges of the 1970s, it was not until the perestroika that her first book was published. Her father, Stefan (Stepan) Ivanovich Zabuzhko (1926–1983) was a teacher, literary critic, and translator.

Among Zabuzhko’s honors include a MacArthur Grant in 2002, Antonovych International Foundation Prize in 2008, the Ukrainian National Award, the Order of Princess Olha in 2009, the ANGELUS Central European Literature Award in 2013, as well many other national and international awards. She was the vice-president of the Ukrainian branch of the PEN Club from 1995 to 2010.

Zabuzhko lives in Kyiv, where she works at the Hryhori Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

By Michael Embry

Mother’s Tears

Photo Credit: AA

A poem of the tragedy of war

Mother’s tears flow
marking tracks in ash
ash settled on her face
as bombs rained down

Mother’s tears fall
marking a face coated
coated in ash and blood
Ash and blood on tiny cheeks

Mother’s tears rain down
on hands trembling
as she takes up arms
to fell some other mother’s sons

Listen to the author’s reading of this poem:

© 22 March 2022 by D. Denise Dianaty

If you wish to contribute to this ezine, please join the group on Facebook. All writing creatives are welcome.

D. Denise Dianaty, Editor and Graphic Designer for the WE PAW Bloggers E-Zine. Administrator for the writers forum “WE PAW Bloggers” group and its sister group “Pandora’s Box of Horrors” on Facebook. In addition to being a self-published author and poet, artist, art-photographer, and administrator of the group, “WE PAW Bloggers,” Denise is a graphic designer with 25+ years experience, predominately in print media.

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WE PAW Bloggers E-zine

WE PAW Bloggers E-zine

An ezine for members of the FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/wepawblog, as well as being the place to curate featured writing prompt contributions.