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Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic Narrations ~ Bill Wolak Ukraine Interview September 2022

Syndic Narrations

 

Art of the Spoken Word

Ukraine Honors Syndic Poet Bill Wolak

For Syndic Issues Devoted to the People of Ukraine

SYNDIC POET BILL WOLAK’S INTERVIEW WITH LITERARY REVIEW, KYIV REVIEW, AND THE NATIONAL WRITERS UNION OF UKRAINE

 

Published by LeRoy Chatfield

 The Editors:

 The editors of the literary review Kyiv and the National Writers Union of Ukraine would like to thank you for your availability and your solidarity with Ukrainian culture and to congratulate you with the reception of the Medal for Devotion to Ukraine. How did the idea of creating special issues of  Syndic Literary Journal dedicated to Ukraine come about? And what goals were you trying to reach with these publications? 

Syndic Poet Bill Wolak:

To begin with, let me say what a great honor it is for me to be awarded the Medal for Devotion to Ukraine. It is completely unexpected and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of.

LeRoy Chatfield and I had been collaborating on his magazine Syndic Literary Journal for many years when he asked me to begin editing and narrating special international issues of the magazine. These international issues would feature only poets from around the world translated into English in the hope that such issues would open the magazine to a more cosmopolitan audience.

We started at the beginning of 2021 with Syndic Literary Journal #40. By the time we were completing our fifth international issue, the war had begun and Kyiv was under constant bombardment. As a way of showing our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we began Syndic Literary Journal #47 with two poems by Dmytro Chystiak; one of these poems “Living Land” had just been written and translated. It was about the war, it was dated, and had been written in Kyiv during the bombing of that city. We were all very moved by this poem; it was a poem that reflected the courage, determination, and fearlessness of the Ukrainian people that we were later to see on the battlefield. Immediately, we decided to do more. We decided to begin by dedicating an entire issue to Dmytro Chystiak’s poetry translated into English and narrated by poets and artists from across the United States. Although we were only able to reproduce the texts and narrations of Dmytro’s poems in English, my introduction to this issue was translated and narrated in 19 languages, and the finished tribute, which was titled HONORING UKRAINIAN POET DMYTRO CHYSTIAK, was distributed around the world. But we knew that we could do more.

We decided to offer the opportunity for poets from around the country and around the world to share their responses to the war’s indiscriminate slaughter of the Ukrainian people by the Russian Army. Therefore, issue #49 began with 4 poems translated from Taras Shevenko, and it contained poets from across the US and from around the world whose poems focused on the war. In fact, so many poets responded that we had to organize a second issue of poems Syndic Literary Journal #50  in which even more poets reacted to the atrocities committed by the Russian Army against Ukrainians.

The goal of our publications was expressed  succinctly by the editor of Syndic Literary Journal LeRoy Chatfield when he wrote in one of his introductions, “We hope that we can engage Poets around the world to speak out against these unspeakable tragedies that have befallen our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.”

To which I might add that when facing such heart-rending, staggering events—unprecedented aggression, outright propaganda and lies, and the most sustained and widespread acts of genocide since World War II—silence is not an option! Poets and artists have an obligation to speak out against these flagrant abuses, these acts of cowardice, these war crimes that cry out for justice.

The Editors:

 The Russian aggression against Ukraine has changed our lives drastically. Some experts speak about the genocide of Ukrainian European civilization. What is the perception of the war in Ukraine in American society and especially in literary circles?

 

Syndic Poet Bill Wolak:

It is an astonishing how unified we are here in the United States concerning this illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine. I can state without any exaggeration whatsoever that nothing in recent history has had a more unifying effect in the American people than the unprovoked invasion and all of the subsequent acts of genocide perpetrated by the Russian Army against the Ukrainian people. Everyday we are hoping that many more of our most sophisticated and powerful weapons systems are delivered even faster into the courageous hands of the Ukrainian Army to repel these despicable Russian invaders!

We scour the news reports for information about the war. We study maps with the names of unfamiliar cities. When there is even the slightest victory on the battlefield, we celebrate as if our neighbors or family have achieved a triumph, in fact, the whole world celebrates. Make no mistake about it, the world has been held in breathless awe by the unstinting courage and bravery of the Ukrainian people during this war!

The authoritarian regime that is responsible for this—Putin and his cadre of criminals— has completely miscalculated. Instead of promoting Russia, these actions have revealed exactly what a sewer that country has become. Instead of improving Russia, they have isolated it and doomed its population to reeling inflation and inevitable economic decline. Instead of achieving the destruction of NATO, they have strengthened it, expanded it, and given it a renewed sense purpose.

 

In literary circles, as in he general population, writers are striving to support Ukraine in any way that they can. As you can see from the published poetry in Syndic Literary Journal below, poets and writers and artists have been expressing their outrage that such brutality, recklessness, and inhumanity is even possible in the twenty-first century.

The Editors:

 Your solidarity with Ukrainian culture through the translation and organizational projects is priceless. Our colleague Prof. Dmytro Chystiak informed us that you have been working together on the special issue of the Syndic Literary Journal devoted to Ukrainian War Poetry and the idea of Anthology of Ukrainian poetry in USA. Could you tell us more about that?

Syndic Poet Bill Wolak

 As I have explained above, several special issues have already appeared that have been dedicated to the Ukrainian people. Here are the links to these issues of Syndic Literary Journal:

Syndic Literary Magazine #47 Dedicated to Dmytro Chystiak

https://www.syndicjournal.us/syndic-no-47-international-poets/

 HONORING UKRAINIAN POET DMYTRO CHYSTIAK – Syndic #48

https://www.syndicjournal.us/syndic-no-48-honoring-poet-dmytro-chystiak/

 Syndic Literary Magazine #49 Dedicated to the Ukrainian People                 https://www.syndicjournal.us/syndic-no-49-putin-such-evil-on-earth-cover/

Syndic Literary Journal #50 Dedicated to the Ukrainian People                                   https://www.syndicjournal.us/syndic-no-50-dedicated-to-people-of-ukraine-may-2022/

In addition, the next international issue of Syndic Literary Journal will feature only modern and contemporary Ukrainian poetry. Recently, Dmytro Chystiak has published a French translation of Ukrainian poetry entitled Clarinettes solaires: Anthologie de la poésie ukrainienne. I will translate many of these poems from French into English, and then Dmytro Chystiak will check my translations against the Ukrainian originals to ensure that they are accurate.

In this way, we will work together to efficiently and quickly make these poems available to the world during this critical period. Afterward, we will devote another issue to poets writing about the atrocities committed by Russia in this war.

The Editors:

 We were pleased to discover the authors of  Syndic Literary Journal from different countries that show their solidarity with Ukraine. We are suggesting to publish them not only in media but also in the Anthology of solidarity with Ukraine. Do you think this idea would be interesting?

 

Syndic Poet Bill Wolak

Yes, of course this is an excellent idea. We have all of the texts, and we are certain that all parties would be proud to show their continuing support and solidarity to Ukraine in any way possible. I will be happy to follow up on this suggestion and do whatever is necessary to make this idea of an Anthology of Solidarity with Ukraine a reality.

 The Editors:

Do you think Ukraine could be one day part of European Union and an organic part of European civilization?

Syndic Poet Bill Wolak

I believe that there can be no doubt that in the future Ukraine will become a part of the European family of nations and the West in general. I believe that the European Union will admit Ukraine sometime in the near future. This process is an historic inevitability that no dictator can prevent, that no amount of intimidation can impede, and that no amount of government-sponsored propaganda and outright lies can halt.

                                                            

Bill Wolak

Bogota, New Jersey, USA

August 2022

 

Bill Wolak is a poet, collage artist, and photographer who lives in New Jersey and has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Winds Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. His poetry has appeared in over a hundred magazines. His most recent translation with Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poetry or Iraj Mirza, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2014. His translations have appeared in such magazines as The Sufi Journal, Basalt, Visions International, World Poetry Journal, and Atlanta Review. His critical work and interviews have appeared in Notre Dame Review, Persian Heritage Magazine, Gargoyle, Southern Humanities Review, and Prime Numbers Magazine. Mr. Wolak has been awarded several National Endowment for the Humanities scholarships and two Fulbright-Hays scholarships to study and travel in India. In 2007, he was selected to participate in a Friendship Delegation to Iran sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, America’s largest and oldest interfaith peace and justice organization. During the Summer of 2010, Mr. Wolak was awarded a Field Study Opportunity in China and Japan by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. He was selected to be a featured poet at festivals in India five times: at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival in Nagpur, at the 2013 Hyderabad Literary Festival, at the Tarjuma 2013: Festival of Translators in Ahmedabad, at the 2014 Hyderabad Literary Festival, and at the 2017 Goa Arts and Literary Festival. He has been a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania; Europa in versi, Lake Como, Italy; The Pesaro International Poetry Festival, Pesaro, Italy, The Xichang-Qionghai Silk Road International Poetry Week, Xichang, China, The Ethnofest, Pristina, Kosovo, the Chengdu International Poetry Week, Chengdu, China, and the International Poetic Conference, Poznań, Poland. Recently he was awarded the Grand Prize for Poetry at the the 2022 International Poetry Festival Mihai Eminescu, Craiova, Romania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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