‘Продажні поети 60-х’ (‘Venal poets of the 60s’) by Serhiy Zhadan (Сергiй Жадан)

Venal poets of the 60s

Venal poets of the 60s should be glad,
Everything ended up so well;
because there were so many dangers
but look – they survived, paid off  their loans
except that the battle wounds
will ache during cyclones
like during periods.

Venal poets of the 60s carry with them
big suitcases made of yellow synthetic leather;
they stay in hotels,
the phone handset held between the chin and the shoulder like a violin,
and the suitcases plastered with advertising stickers.
Vietcong, babe, that’s our collective subconscious.
What do you care? – Easy to throw away a crumpled business card.
One visa in the passport more
One visa less.

Once on a snowy airport field
One of them will have remembered all of his lectures,
Berlin radio and bridges over the Vistula.
“Well, – he would think, – well,
Those were quite good times – our venal 60s,
even though in one’s head, as an aftermath
there’s nothing but pederasty and social democracy.
We were led by love,
love tore out our tonsils,
like handset from public phones.
Poetry is written by throats,
but this throat got hopelessly sore from a cold”.

By all literary rules,
by all the terms of contracts they have signed
they really fought for freedom,
and freedom, as we know, requires
that they fought for it from time to time –
in the trenches, in the forests
and on the pages of independent press.

While talking here about poetry,
let us remember all those left
on the streets and beaches of the good old 60’s,
all those who did quite get to the state of acquittal
and upon whom storm clouds are still floating
elaborate like American vers libres;
let us remember them, because what you call time
resembles your usual carnage,
where the intestine are ripped out simply because
here is the place for it;
and no one survives it
except for the venal poets
their lungs are torn
by love.

– Serhiy Zhadan (Сергiй Жадан)
translated by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Продажні поети 60-х

Продажні поети 60-х мали б тішитись,
що все закінчилось так успішно;
адже скільки було небезпек,
а бач – вижили, повернули кредити,
хіба що бойові рани
нитимуть під час циклонів,
ніби під час місячних.

Продажні поети 60-х возять за собою
великі валізи із жовтої штучної шкіри;
зупиняючись в готелях,
вони притримують слухавку плечем, наче скрипку,
а на їхніх валізах рясніють рекламні наклейки.
В’єтконг, дівчинко, це і є наше колективне підсвідоме.
Що тобі до мене? – легко викинеш м’яту візитку.
Однією візою в паспорті більше,
однією менше.

Коли-небудь на засніженому летовищі
комусь із них пригадаються всі їхні лекції,
берлінське радіо і мости через Віслу.
“Добре, – подумає він – добре,
то були незлі часи – наші продажні 60-ті,
дарма що в голові по тому
суцільна педерастія і соціал-демократія.
Нас вела за собою любов,
любов виривала нам наші гланди,
як виривають слухавки з вуличних телефонів.
Поезія пишеться горлом,
але це горло безнадійно застуджене”.

За всіма законами літератури,
за всіма умовами підписаних ними контрактів
вони справді боролись за свободу,
а свобода, як відомо, вимагає,
щоби за неї час від часу боролись –
в окопах, лісах
і на сторінках незалежної преси.

Говорячи тут про поезію,
пом’янімо всіх тих, хто залишився
на вуличках і пляжах старих-добрих 60-х,
всіх тих, хто не пройшов до кінця курс реабілітації
і над ким дотепер пропливають хмари,
що своєю структурою нагадують американські верлібри;
пом’янімо їх, оскільки те, що ви називаєте часом,
нагадує звичайну бойню,
де кишки випускаються просто тому,
що це має робитись саме тут;
і виживають після цього
хіба що продажні поети,
з легенями – розірваними
від любові.

– Сергiй Жадан

‘Продажні поети 60-х’, by Serhiy Zhadan was originally published in the collection of poetry Господь симпатизирует аутсайдерам by Книжный Клуб Клуб семейного досуга in 2005. ‘Продажні поети 60-х’ has been republished in Rochford Street Review, along with the translation ‘Venal poets of the 60s’ by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, with Serhiy Zhadan’s permission.


Serhiy Zhadan (Сергiй Жадан) is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. He was born in 1974 in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine, and now lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Serhiy graduated from the Vasyl Karazin Kharkiv National University, and has a PhD in Ukrainian literary studies. He is the author of twelve collections of poetry, several books of prose, and translations. Serhiy translates poetry from German, English, Belarussian, and Russian. His own poems have been translated into German, English, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Russian and, Armenian languages. He received a diploma from the Moscow International Book Fair (2008) for the novel Anarchy in the UKR. In 2016, Serhiy Zhadan was awarded with the Ukrainian Book of the Year State Prize, and donated the prize to children care centres of Lugansk region. In 2014, Serhiy Zhadan’s Voroshylovhrad (Ворошиловград) was awarded Book of the Decade by the BBC Ukrainian. Voroshylovhrad (Ворошиловград) had previously won the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year in 2010. Serhiy Zhadan’s Voroshylovhrad (Ворошиловград) also received the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature in 2014.

This entry was posted in Featured Writers, Issue 21, Ukrainian poetry and tagged , , , , , by Zalehah Turner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, photographer, cultural journalist, and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR). Zalehah regularly contributes articles and interviews on poetry, art, film, and new media for RSR and the UTS magazine, Vertigo. Zalehah’s poetry was projected onto the Federation Square Wall in Melbourne as part of the Overload Poetry Festivals, 2008 and 2009; exhibited at Mark and Remark ,107 Projects, Redfern in 2013; and displayed in Alice Springs and Moruya thanks to Australian Poetry Café poets, Laurie May and Janette Dadd respectively. Her poems have been published in Writing Laboratory (2013), Sotto (2013), Social Alternatives (2016), Vertigo (2016, 2017), UTS’s The Empathy Poems Project (2017) and Rochford Street Review (2017). She co-judged the New Shoots Poetry Prizes 2016 alongside, Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, and published the winning and highly commended poems. Zalehah is currently working on an intermedia poetry collection entitled, 'Critical condition', focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises based on personal experience. Zalehah holds a BA in Communication with a major in writing and cultural studies from the University of Technology, Sydney where she continues to pursue pushing the boundaries of multimedia poetry in Honours (Communication- Creative Writing).

2 thoughts on “‘Продажні поети 60-х’ (‘Venal poets of the 60s’) by Serhiy Zhadan (Сергiй Жадан)

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