Ukraine — Scotland: Collaborative Literary ProjectLaboratories

Ukraine — Scotland: Collaborative Literary Project

During 2021, StAnza collaborated with Mystetskyi Arsenal and the International Book Arsenal Festival (Kyiv, Ukraine), inviting eight poets from Scotland and Ukraine to participate in the project. With the help of translator Uilleam Blacker, they transposed poetry between English and Ukrainian languages, Shetland and Hutsul dialects. Based on the project, Grigory Semenchuk created music tracks for which ukrainian poets have tried themselves in the role of performers. Some of these poets translate professionally and on a daily basis, such as Les Beley, who works in tandem with Vicky Husband. Someone has translated directly from English, knowing it well. Someone has used a version made in non-native English. Myroslav Laiuk offered to tell about emotions, experiences and metaphors not only in literary Ukrainian but in dialect, just like Rosanna Watt, who writes in Shetland. Olena Huseinova took up Hannah Lavery’s social poetry, and Liuba Yakymchuk looked for matches to the rhythms and rhymes of Andrew Blair.

The project was curated by Oksana Schur (Ukraine) and Annie Rutherford (Scotland).

Below you can find the results of this creative, Ukrainian-Scottish collaboration:

  • Ukrainian-Scottish poetry readings during the Book Arsenal festival in Kyiv in 2021:

  • E-book of poetry and translations created within the Beyond Any Curtain project via   
  • Music tracks created by Grigory Semenchuk, that use the fragments of poetic texts and translations by the participants of the project. Ukrainian poets have recorded vocal parts specifically for these compositions, trying themselves in the role of performers via
  • Lyrics videos created by Eugene Arlov featuring the music by Grigory Semenchuk via

Project participants:

Hannah Lavery is an award-winning poet, playwright, performer and experienced workshop facilitator.

Her first pamphlet of short fiction, Rocket Girls, was published by Postbox Press (2018) and her poetry pamphlet, Finding Seaglass: Poems from The Drift was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press (2019). The Drift, her autobiographical play, was part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s 2019 season and Scotland’s Black History Month 2018 and 2019. Her recent play, The Lament for Sheku Bayoh, commissioned by the Royal Lyceum Theatre was performed as part of the Edinburgh International Festival 2019.

Hannah is a New Playwright Award from Playwrights Studio Scotland, and has been named as one of the BBC Writers Room Scottish Voices of 2020. She was awarded a Tom McGrath Playwriting Grant in 2015, and a Megaphone Residency from the Workers’ Theatre in 2017, and was part of National Theatre of Scotland’s Just Start Here festival in January 2018.

Roseanne Watt is a poet, filmmaker and musician from Shetland. She is currently poetry editor for The Island Review and was the winner of the 2015 Outspoken Poetry Prize (Poetry in Film) and runner up in the 2018 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. In 2018, her debut collection Moder Dy won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award; Moder Dy was also shortlisted for the 2019 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award, winner of an Eric Gregory Award 2020 and the Somerset Maugham Award 2020. She lives and works between Edinburgh and Shetland.

Andrew Blair is a poet, writer and performer living in Edinburgh. He co-produced the Saboteur Award-nominated Poetry as F*ck podcast with Ross McCleary. They have also produced shows such as Poets Against Humanity, the Hump Uncle podcast and The Ambassador’s Reception – a spoken word murder mystery night set in the extended Ferrero Rocher universe. His work has been featured in Gutter, Umbrellas of Edinburgh and 404 Ink. His debut collection, An Intense Young Man at an Open Mic Night, was published in 2017 by House of Three press, and his pamphlet The R-Pattz Facttz 2020 was released through Speculative Books in August.

Vicki Husband’s debut poetry collection This Far Back Everything Shimmers was published by Vagabond Voices in 2016 and shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year. Vicki’s poetry has won a number of awards and been widely published, and anthologised in books such as A Year of Scottish Poetry (Macmillan). Public reading highlights include StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, Lahore Literary Festival and Glasgow Women’s Library. Vicki’s latest publication is Sykkel Saga, a pamphlet-long poem exploring the Norwegian arctic landscape and Norse mythology. Vicki lives in Glasgow and works as an occupational therapist for the NHS.

Les Beley is a linguist, poet, and translator, born in Uzhhorod, and currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from the Uzhhorod University (MA in Ukrainian language) and Wrocław University (MA in English language), obtained a PhD degree, and works in the Potebnya Institute of Linguistics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He is the author of poetry collections Son et Lumiere. The Letters Without Response (2008), The Mirror Cube (2012), and The Book about the Forest (2016). He is also the author of the prose and drama book The Plan of the Rescue of Ukraine (2018), and the following non-fiction books: The Dashing Nineties. The Love and Hatred in Uzhhorod (2014), and Asymmetric Symmetry: Fieldwork on Ukrainian-Polish Relations (with Łukasz Saturczak, 2014). Les has been awarded the Debut Award (2008), Smoloskyp Award (2011), and Ulyanenko Prize (2019).

Olena Huseinova is a poet, journalist, and radio host, living in Kyiv, Ukraine. Olena holds an MA in Philology from Kyiv-Mohyla academy. In 2004, her poems appeared in the major Ukrainian journal Suchasnist (Modernity). In 2005, she received second prize in a prestigious literary competition for young writers, Smoloskyp. Olena’s first book of poetry, Vidkrutyi Raider (Open Rider), was published in 2012 and immediately became a success. Her second book of poetry, Superheroi (Superheroes), designed by the Agrafka art studio, was published in 2016. The International Book Arsenal Festival voted it as the best illustrated book of the year. In 2017, Olena presented her poems at the international literary festival Authors’ Reading Month. She is currently working as an author and radio host on Ukrainian radio station “Culture”. Her poems have been translated into English, Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, and Russian.

Myroslav Laiuk is a novelist, poet, and PhD in philosophy & literature. He was born in the Carpathians, and now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. Myroslav is the author of three poetry books and three novels. In 2018, he compiled an Anthology of Young Ukrainian Poetry of the III Millennium. Myroslav was a host of the show ‘The Poetry Time’ on UA: PBC. He participated in festivals internationally, including the Poetry Africa Festival (SAR), Vilenica International Literary Festival (Slovenia), Druskininkai Poetic Fall (Lithuania), and Festival of World Literature (Croatia). His works are translated into fifteen languages, including four published books (in Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, and Poland).

Lyuba Yakimchuk is a poet, screenwriter, and playwright, born in Pervomaisk, and currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine. She is the author of several full-length poetry collections, including Apricots of Donbas (2015), which is about people surviving a war. She has also authored two film scripts and two plays. Her play The Wall was produced at the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre, the largest and the oldest Ukrainian theatre. Her poems and prose have been translated into roughly twenty languages and were published in anthologies and journals in Ukraine, the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Israel and others. Lyuba has participated in various European festivals. In 2016, she had a poetry tour across the USA and Canada. Yakimchuk has received a number of awards, including the International Slavic Poetic Award, the Bohdan-Ihor Antonych Prize and the Smoloskyp Prize, three of Ukraine’s most prestigious awards for young poets. Apricots of Donbas received the Kovaliv Foundation Literary Prize (NYC, USA). Apricots of Donbas was included in the rating of 10 Best Ukrainian Books About the Anti-terrorist Operation according to the Ukrainian Forbes and was translated into Polish and Estonian.

The Mystetskyi Arsenal, Ukraine’s flagship cultural institution, brings together various arts – from diverse art practices to music and literature. The multidisciplinary International Book Arsenal Festival, the largest intellectual event in Ukraine, takes place annually within the scope of the institution’s activity.

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, has long-standing experience in holding international literary events. Authors and artists from all over the world, including Eastern Europe, take part in the festival’s programs. The Stanza International Poetry Festival is a platform for the presentation of Ukrainian poetry in Scotland, among other countries of the world.

Project is supported by the European Union within the House of Europe programme.