Student journalists sentenced to two years of forced labor. Artists labeled “foreign agents.” People arrested for holding up blank signs. Russia’s war in Ukraine has accompanied a war on free expression within its own country. And for immigrants like me, there’s a pervasive sense of alienation, a fear of returning home. So we turn to art to try to wrap our minds around the atrocities, to feel less alone and to find a path forward.
Bilingual, Moscow-born author Julia Nemirovskaya, a professor at the University of Oregon, has edited a new poetry anthology, Disbelief: 100 Russian Anti-War Poems, featuring the works of Russian-speaking authors in Ukraine, Russia and in the diaspora. Their stirring words reckon with the generational legacies of violence, resistance, displacement and feelings of helplessness.
Disbelief follows a deep history of Russian wartime poetry. Smokestack Books, the publisher of this collection, also released Russia is Burning, which features World War II-era writings by soldiers, civilians, immigrants and gulag prisoners grappling with grief, trauma, fights against fascism and the war’s effects on society.