Q&A – Andriy Lyubka (Ukraine): Poetry Africa Words on the Times

AiW Guest: Andriy Lyubka

PoetryAfrica_2021_narrowWeb (1)AiW note: In collaboration with Poetry Africa – presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal – we offer here a mini-series of our Words on the Times Q&As, with poets who are participating in the ‘powering up’ and ‘unmuting’ that is the theme of the festival this year, and as the 25th anniversary edition of Poetry Africa sets its stage for poetry from South Africa, the African Continent, and around the world…

page-dividerWe opened our Q&A set with the first day of the Poetry Africa festival on Monday, when Christine Yohannes (Ethiopia) shared her ‘Poetry Africa Poets’ Words on the Times’; yesterday, our responses (en français) came to us from slam artist Wassing Wadaï Charles, aka W.charly from Cameroon ...

Ahead of his appearance in the Day 4 #Unmute session of the festival, Unmute: Power to the Poet  (Thursday 14 October, 17.00 CAT), Ukrainian writer and poet Andriy Lyubka talks with us about the effects of the pandemic on work and life.

(For those not familiar with our Q&A subset, Words on the Times was initiated here at AiW as we began to go into our various lockdowns, #covoids, and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic…).


Andriy-Lyubka-e1632465518991About Andriy Lyubka

Andriy Lyubka is a Ukrainian poet, prose writer, essayist, columnist and translator (from Polish, Serbian, Croatian and English).  He graduated from Uzhhorod National University with a masters degree in Ukrainian Philology (2009),  and from University of Warsaw (masters degree in Balkans and Central Europe Studies) in 2014.

Andriy was the winner of the literary awards “Debut” (2007) and “Kyiv Laurels” (2011), and his novel “Karbid” was short-listed as one of the top five Ukrainian books of the year by BBC-Ukraine (2015).  He was the curator of the International Poetry Festival “Kyiv Laurels” (2008, 2009, 2010, 2013) and the International Poetry Festival “Meridian Czernowitz” (2012, 2015).

Andriy was also a Writer-in-Residence at the Willa Decijusza Foundation Scholarship (Poland, 2009); the Gaude Polonia Scholarship Programme for Young Foreign Cultural Professionals (Poland, 2010, 2012); The International Writers’ and Translators’ House “Ventspilshouse” Scholarship (Latvia 2010); the Residence Internationalen Haus der Autorinnen und Autoren Graz (Austria, 2012); the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (Sweden, 2015) and Pecs – European Capital of Culture (Hungary, 2016).  He was also Research Fellow at New Europe College (Bucharest, Romania, 2016).

Andriy has participated in literary festivals in Rio de Janeiro, Kyiv, Berlin, Innsbruck, Warsaw, Krakow, Bratislava, Istanbul, Moscow, Vienna, Struga, Novi Sad, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Vilnius. Some of his works are translated into Chinese, Czech, Serbian, Macedonian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Turkish, German, English, Russian, Romanian and Polish.


Poetry Africa Words on the Times – with Andriy Lyubka

AiW: Could you tell us a bit about your involvement with the Poetry Africa festival this year? 

Andriy Lyubka: During the Poetry Africa Festival I will take part in the discussion Unmute: Power to the Poet. We will discuss the role of poetry in times of uncertainty and loneliness. What is really sad for me, is that the discussion will take place as an online event and therefore I will not visit South Africa — it was my sincere dream and due to the damned (one hundred times damned!) pandemic I will not be able to fulfil the dream. Actually the situation itself demonstrates how covid had affected our normal life and it would be interesting to discuss this with my colleagues. 

AiW: And could you tell us a bit more about your own work, as well as the ways that the pandemic has affected your plans for it? 

I have written ten books so far (3 of poetry, 2 essays, 2 short stories and 3 novels) and I live from my writings, so I can call myself a professional writer. That is why the pandemic and lockdowns didn’t change my life in a drastic way — thanks to quarantine now everybody know what the life of a professional writer looks like: constant self-isolation, irresistible desires to have a snack all the time, latent alcoholism, unsuccessful attempts to concentrate on work, mood swings, from the very lowest points to causeless euphoria. If I speak seriously, during the lockdown I was much more fruitful in my work than in ”normal” years – just because I had much more time to work.

AiW: What have you found most supportive and/or heart lifting in this time? 

For me it was definitely nature. When it was forbidden to walk on the streets and all events were canceled, I often went to the forest and spent a lot of time there. As I am an amateur fisherman, rivers and ponds near my hometown were something of a magnet for me. Usually I combined these walks with cooking different dishes and small picnics with my wife. She was pregnant last year and we spent a wonderful time together. 

AiW: How can our blog communities best support you? 

Hm, I think that the best way of supporting the living author is to buy his books. Last year my most popular novel “Carbide” was published in English translation, so if someone will purchase it and read it, I will be more than happy. Thank you!


PoetryAfrica_2021_HostedByVerticalBannerThe ‘Unmute: Power to the Poet’ sessions have been/are running each day at the same time, Tues-Thurs, gathering international poets on the overall festival theme.

Andriy Lyubka will be performing in the 3rd #Unmute session tomorrow with Gubhela (SA), Musa Hawamdeh (Jordan), Xabiso Vili (SA), Hlox Rebel (SA), Torsten Clear Rybka (SA), Narcisse (Switzerland), Mjele Msimang (SA), and Anthony Molosi (Botswana).

We’ll be sharing a Poetry Africa Words on the Times with Anthony Molosi ahead of this session tomorrow morning…

Tune in to the #Unmute session today (Wednesday 13 October, 17.00 CAT), to catch W.charly from Cameroon, who shared his Words on the Times with us yesterday, en francais, n’est pas…

Charly will be performing later on today with an international gathering of poets: Malika Ndlovu (SA), Shailja Patel (Kenya), Weronika Lewandowska (Poland), Yuuri Miki (Japan), Maria Escriva (Catalan), Jahrose Jafta (SA), Hazel Tobo (SA), and Ninfa Maria (Chile), hosted by Khwezi Becker…

During these times of a pandemic, we experience a digital highway in which we can get lost in algorithms generated for us, somewhere between fake and fact. A world in which we are unsure who or what to believe. The poet’s role is to help us persevere during these times of lockdowns, loneliness, and fear. The poet can appeal to something deep within us that is fostered within our communities. Poets can inspire with us their power to influence societies and possess the ability to show us things through a different lens. During times of fake news and authoritarian tendencies, our society may need poets more than ever to shine a light on certain truths and to unite communities. We need poets to articulate for us, give us another prospect and shift time.  Therefore, this session is themed after the festival theme: Unmute: Power to the Poet. What works will these poets bring now that the power is in their hands?

page-dividerToday’s Poetry Africa line up is below but find the full details of the rest of the programme at their website, and stream events live at: facebook.com/poetryafrica and youtube.com/centreforcreat.


page-dividerLink through to catch up with Christine Yohannes’ inspiring Poetry Africa Words on the Times and W.charly’s here…

Christine will also be participating in the following session on Thursday…


Host: Khwezi Becker

Panelists: Athol Williams(SA), Christine Yohannes (Ethiopia), Hlox the Rebel (South Africa), Xabiso Vili (South Africa)

page-dividerThis year’s Poetry Africa featured poet Siphokazi Jonas’ award-winning film will also screen online at Thursday’s festival – congratulations Siphokazi!

page-dividerPOETRY AFRICA

Some highlights so far…



Categories: Words on the Times

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