Iryna Shuvalova has published her first collection of poems in English.
Shuvalova’s lyric poetry is thick with beauty, memory and sorrow; with folklore, story and song.Sasha Dugdale
Award-winning Ukrainian poet and Gates Cambridge Scholar Iryna Shuvalova has published her first book of poems in English.
Entitled 'Pray to the Empty Wells', it is Iryna's fourth collection of poetry. Her previous three collections – Ran, Os and Az- have been in Ukrainian and she has a fourth book coming out early next year.
Iryna  is a respected poet and translator whose works have been translated into nine languages.
Her new collection is described as blending traditional spirituality with eroticism and an awareness of the natural environment as well as "a meditation on memory and life's natural cycles". Her poems are presented in both Ukrainian and English in the book with the translations done by Olena Jennings and Iryna.
British poet, playwright and translator Sasha Dugdale calls it "a prayer that overflows". She says: "Shuvalova’s lyric poetry is thick with beauty, memory and sorrow; with folklore, story and song. In these superb translations the strange charm of her voice lures us, catches in our throat and threatens never to leave us."
In addition to her four published works, Iryna, who has just completed a PhD in Slavonic Studies, co-edited Ukraine's first anthology of queer writing – 120 pages of Sodom – in 2009. The project involved coordinating a team of more than 40 writers, translators and academics from 15 countries. Despite threats and physical attacks from ultra-right organisations, she says the book managed to provoke an important debate on LGBT writing in Ukraine.
Iryna has also won many awards for her poetry and translation, including first prize in Ukraine's the most prestigious competition for young poets.
Her PhD is a study of the songs about the War in Donbas, exploring how they reflect the identity shifts in the communities involved in the war in Ukraine and affected by it.
*Pray to the Empty Walls is published by Lost Horse Press in the US and is available for purchase on Amazon. Picture credit: Jean-Luc Benazet.
- 2016 PhD Slavonic Studies
- St John's College
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Iryna Shuvalova is a PhD graduand in Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge, where her research centers on the songs of the War in Donbas and the communities that produce them. In addition to her academic work, she is active as a poet and translator. She authored four books of poetry (fifth due in spring 2020), and won a number of writing and translation awards, including the Joseph Brodsky / Stephen Spender Prize (2012). Her most recent book-length translation into Ukrainian were Rupi Kaur's 'Milk and Honey' (2019) and Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' (2016), whereas her translations of poetry and short prose from Russian and Ukrainian into English appeared in 'Modern Poetry in Translation' and 'Words without Borders'. In 2009, she co-edited the first anthology of queer literature in Ukraine '120 pages of "Sodom"'. Iryna also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College, USA, (2008) obtained on a Fulbright Scholarship. She is a member of PEN Ukraine.
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv