Iryna Shuvalova: Oral Poetry in the Donbas War

Oral Poetry in the Donbas War: A Quest for Memory, History and Identity

This project centers on contemporary Ukrainian oral poetry and the way it reflects the ongoing war in the East of Ukraine, also known as the War in Donbas (spring 2014 – present). On the one hand Iryna is interested in how the actual works of poetry reflect the traumatic experience of armed conflict and post-conflict situation, while on the other hand, she looks into how the changing situation in the society leads to a different perception of oral poetry and alters the role it plays in the communities and for separate individuals. For the purpose of this project, oral poetry is understood broadly, including such diverse forms as contemporary popular songs, poems created for slam performances, as well as some of the new hybrid forms of poetry combined with the new media, such as videopoetry. Among the issues Iryna is particularly interested in are: the impact of traditional (so-called ‘folk’ oral poetry) onto contemporary war poetry; the representations of history and construction of alternative historical narratives in contemporary oral poetry; the issues of ethnic, national and cultural identity in war poetry; memory and the politics of memory in the war zones.

Iryna Shuvalova

Iryna Shuvalova holds a BA and MA in Philosophy from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine, (2007, 2008) and an MA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College, USA, (2008) obtained on a Fulbright Scholarship. Currently, she is a PhD student in Slavonic Studies and a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where her research centers on armed conflict and post-conflict trauma in Ukrainian oral poetry. In addition to her academic work, she is active as a poet and translator. She authored three books of poetry and won a number of writing and translation awards, including the Joseph Brodsky / Stephen Spender Prize (2012) and the Hawthornden Fellowship (2015). Her most recent book-length translation into Ukrainian was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2016), whereas her translations of poetry and short prose from Russian and Ukrainian into English appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation and Words without Borders.


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