Meet the Ukrainian poet Ostap Slivinsky

DrThe poet is neither angry nor hateful and wants red wine. But there is no red wine on the balcony. “You have to go in,” says the skinny, platinum-blonde waitress at the Italian restaurant in western Ukraine. The poet nodded his head. He declares, “This is war.” take a break. “Many restaurants don’t want to sell alcohol on the stands,” he says. In the midst of darkness and happy music. The poet’s name is Ostap Slevinsky, he is in his early forties and studies at four universities, two in Limburg, two in Poland, but only online in Polish universities. And he talks about the lack of anger because he keeps a “war dictionary” that contains only soft words so far: freedom and love, sun and song. No hate or anger. why?

“These are feelings that just gobble up words. Feelings that people can’t talk about yet,” says Slevensky.

His “lexicon” began as his hometown, as Lamberg changed after that dark February night: “In the first few weeks after the attack, the train station was like a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.” Ostap Slivinsky as a volunteer helped distribute bread and tea. “If someone asked me what the apocalypse would look like, it would be as if it were at Central Station,” he said, raising his palm from his chin above his eyes, and covering them for two, maybe three seconds, as if he had to see the end of the world over and over again, but no He wants to see her: “There were thousands of people completely confused. Children missing. Mothers screaming. Preachers singing religious songs. And in the midst of these horrific scenes, there were people who wanted to talk, who wanted to talk.”

How do you live in this abyss?

Listen Ostap Slivinsky. He made stories out of conversations. Arrange them in words and alphabet. In the letter T, for example, the story of the runaway Anna, who told him about the train people were cramming on: “In the packed cabin, she had to lie down until she was reasonably comfortable. It worked because she played Tetris a lot as a child, she said. The entry is titled “Tetris.”

Slevensky is laughing now. Or is he coughing? He’s coughing, of course, because at any minute, any second, a message can come in, and it’s no good. Shortly before the meeting with the poet came from the poet’s son, from his death: 23 years and the child of a friend of Slivinsky. He says his name three times now. silent. And then: “Sometimes I ask myself how I would feel if I had slept through the first months of the war and now woke up and saw the news – it would all seem completely unreal to me. These completely anomalous things that happen to us already seem almost ordinary.”

Lviv in the summer of 2022


Lviv in the summer of 2022
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Photo: Archive

How do you live in this abyss? And how in this city where war is only noticeable, can it be seen through the sirens and uniforms of the streets? In this Lemberg, which is not the biggest and highest target of Russians such as Kharkiv, Cherson, Sevgirodontsk, not yet, although the missiles hit people here too?

“It’s an emotional swing,” Slevensky says. He talks about his strength some days and his despair on others. About how he’s trying not to see the big picture. Then he says “Yes,” as if to answer himself, reassuring himself, “Yes, it’s good that we don’t know many details yet.”

“There is no factory of freedom”

The past few months have turned the poet, that poet, into a collector of stories. “War changes the meaning of our words. It gets boring, so you have to sharpen it as you sharpen a knife with a whetstone.” That is why he documents other people’s stories, now with many authors. In the fall they will also appear in book form in Ukrainian, and in Germany next year But they are now online.

What is the first word in the letters of the war letters?

“Freedom,” Slivinsky says, as he pulls his cell phone out of his pants pocket. The blue light of the screen shines on his face, who has not yet decided whether he wants to be the face of a child or an adult, proving that he has wrinkles. I have already grown up.

Now Slivinsky says: “Freedom, Vadim, Konotop.” Then he read: “Freedom is something that no one can create for you. No one gives you freedom, no one gives you it, and no one can be counted on for it. You can find it only for yourself. Exactly, hand made. There is no factory of freedom. Freedom is not a serial product.”

Unfortunately, Vadim is right.

“Another wine,” says the poet, who can no longer write poetry – since the Russian attack, and the new war, he can no longer do it. “Novel writing is not possible now. Because our life is filled with all sorts of things, well, so impossible and unimaginable that there is no longer room for imagination,” explains Slyvynsky, just as the summer sky turns dark blue and the night slowly settles over the city, Lviv ended. Then it goes. And if the meeting with the poet is an entry in the “dictionary”, then it will be under S. The title will be “writing”.

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