Alex Averbuch will read, in the original Ukrainian and in English translation, from his latest book Zhydivsky korol (The Jewish King, a 2023 finalist for the Shevchenko National Prize), as well as from his upcoming collection, Of Rage and Longing, and answer questions from the audience. Averbuch's poetry deals with interwoven Jewish-Ukrainian relations through the prism of his family history and Ukraine's multiethnic past and present. The book features poeticized documentary materials related to the Second World War: letters by Ukrainian Ostarbeiters sent to their relatives in Ukraine, interwoven with letters by Jewish Holocaust survivors who returned to devastated villages in Ukraine in search of their murdered relatives, as well as poems about the Russo-Ukrainian war currently taking place in his home region of Luhansk. Unsettling but ultimately liberatory de-specifications of ethnos, language, and sexuality relieve trigger-points in Ukraine’s history through the confessional intimacy of family, shame, pleasure, and the reconciliation of self and other.
About the Speaker
Alex Averbuch, a poet, translator, and scholar, is the author of four books of poetry and an array of literary translations connecting Hebrew, Ukrainian, English, and Russian. English translations of his poems have appeared in the Manhattan Review, Copper Nickel, Plume, Birmingham Poetry Review, Words Without Borders, Sugar House Review, Constellations, and Common Knowledge. His latest book Zhydivs’kyi korol' (The Jewish King), from which most of the forthcoming English collection Of Rage and Longing derives, was a finalist for the Shevchenko National Prize, Ukraine’s highest award for culture and literature. Averbuch is active in promoting Ukrainian-Jewish relations. He has translated into Hebrew and published over 30 selections of poetry by contemporary Ukrainian poets. Currently he is compiling and editing an anthology of contemporary Ukrainian poetry in Hebrew translation. Alex is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Davis Center and a future HURI research fellow at Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute. He has a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures and Jewish studies from the University of Toronto.
This event is organized by Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) as part of the weekly Seminar in Ukrainian Studies public event series. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University.
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