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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

A Time of Its Own – Poem by Maria Malinovskaya

Nov 5, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Russian by Sergei Tseytlin

based on the testimonies of the French citizen who survived the civil war in Ivory Coast


documentary art is wicked
i don’t want any documentary art

when the helicopter arrived and took us from the roof
of our house
we couldn’t even take some footwear

my children stood in the airport barefoot
and some jerk came up
a modern photographer
and started taking pictures of them

my wife asked me what he was doing
it hurt her

I went up and asked what are you doing bastard?
why are you shooting my children barefoot?

he said it was important
to show suffering
so that the world would know and bla-bla-bla

i said ok bastard
i don’t want you to show my suffering

how he fretted that photographer
began explaining
that this is documentary art

i told him i had lost everything
the rebels burned my house down
we don’t even have our passports
and you call this art?

delete everything you’ve shot
and don’t come near us again

i don’t show my suffering
it’s just self-respect
and i will never allow
others to show it
we went north
to my mom’s native village
we met a neighbor who remembered me

at the passport office they asked me
do you swear that’s your name?
they asked my mom do you swear this is your son?
asked the neighbor do you confirm this?

then sign here
and that’s how i got my passport
that’s when i really fell in love with my country

but obtaining the passport
i immediately flew back

because i needed to make money
and not make sense of the trauma or anything else it’s life
and there’s nothing special about it


there where houses have no numbers
and instead of the address in your passport you can write
the name of your beloved woman
only there am at peace
while i look out
from his window through the video link
and screenshot everything

the gray-green water of the lagoon
the little lights on the other shore
the suitcases
with the unlicensed weapons
from the civil war

his two conditions are
make love three times a day
and make him three fried eggs for breakfast

my two conditions are silence
and freedom

in the town with the numberless houses
much is possible

the post is loaded into a communal box
they explain the road to the ambulance driver on a speakerphone
i feel good

he places the phone by the windshield
so that i could follow the road

and we transport the weapons
from the villa to the apartment

from the villa by the lagoon to the apartment by the lagoon
past the green fence and turning right after the pizzeria
passing the road patrol

a beautiful place
but there are many houses now

there are more of them than us they multiply
with chambers of freedom
which we are forcibly
trying to preserve


Maria Malinovskaya was born in Gomel (Belarus). She is PhD-student in Contemporary Poetry Studies at The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and an author of two books. The first one, a documentary poetry project and collection Kaimaniya (2020), is based on authentic speech of people suffering from mental disorders. The second one, The Movement of Hidden Colonies (2020), includes both lyrical and documentary poems, such as those from her most recent documentary poetry project that is based on testimonies of French–Ivorian clashes survivors. Malinovskaya’s poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines and translated into English, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Belarusian and Polish. She is a participant of The European Poetry Festival (UK), The Nordic Poetry Festival (Norway), the annual festival of sound-art and contemporary poetry Poetronica (Russia). She lives in Belarus and Russia.

Sergei Tseytlin is a writer and translator. He was born in Moscow, grew up in New York and currently lives in Rome, where he works as editor at LUISS university. His stories and essays have been published in magazines in London, Moscow and Venice. His collection of tales The Venetian Notebook and Other Stories and his novel Bragadin have been published in Italy.


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