UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


White Flowers, Red Hearts: Belarusian Protest Poetry in Solidarity with Ukraine

28 April 2022, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

People holding up flags with red hearts

A FRINGE Centre symposium with Hanna Komar and Valzhyna Mort

This event is free.

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This seminar brings together two prominent Belarussian poets: Hanna Komar and Valzhyna Mort to discuss the political potential of poetry in times of imperial violence, enormous suffering and global solidarity with those fighting for democracy. This seminar seeks to explore how our shared past, present and future are imagined in the poetry that emerged after the events of 2020 in Belarus and how the temporal and spatial orientations of poetry make visible connections between individuals, groups and countries that might be overlooked within the linear everyday reality.

About the speakers:

Hanna Komar is an award-winning poet, translator and activist from Belarus, member of PEN Belarus and Belarusian Writers Union, as well as honorary member of English PEN. She has published three poetry collections: “Страх вышыні” (Fear of Heights: Minsk, 2016) in Belarusian, a bilingual collection Recycled (London, 2018), and a collection of documentary poetry in Belarusian and Russian “Мы вернемся” (We’ll Return: Moscow, 2022) as well as a collection of Charles Bukowski’s poetry in Belarusian translations (together with Julia Cimafiejeva and Natallia Binkievič) “Святло, і паветра, і месца, і час” (Air and Light and Time and Space: Minsk, 2017). Since 2020, Hanna Komar has been participating in and writing about the Belarusian protest. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Westminster in London.

Valzhyna Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections, ‘Factory of Tears’ (Copper Canyon Press 2008), ‘Collected Body’ (Copper Canyon Press 2011) and, mostly recently, ‘Music for the Dead and Resurrected’ (FSG, 2020), named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by ‘The New York Times’, and the winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Valzhyna Mort teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian. She also translates between English, Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. She has received the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the National Endowment for the Arts grant in translation for her work on Polina Barskova’s book of selected poems Air Raid (Ugly Duckling 2021). Valzhyna Mort’s poetry collections have come out in translation in Germany, Sweden and Ukraine, while single poems have been translated into a dozen of languages. She has received the Burda Prize for Eastern European authors (Germany) and a Crystal of Vilenica prize (Slovenia).

Image credit: Hanna Komar