Oksana Maksymchuk
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Hey y'all. I wrote the passages below during the month of May, when the world was in lockdown and many people were weathering the health crisis in their homes. I won't change it now, even though the emphasis on private suffering, joys, and comforts now strikes me as uncannily luxurious. I will note that the poems I've been writing since June 1st are very different from what I thought I'd be writing. Since starting on June 1st, I’ve resigned myself to taking snapshots of moments, faces, and events. They are pale & fuzzy in comparison to what’s out there. What we are living through right now exposes literary imagination as falling short.

[mid-May, 2020]

Writing a poem a day is not something I've ever tried before. I welcome this opportunity now in order to reflect on our rapidly changing lives during the pandemic, and on the effects of prolonged social distancing on families and communities, as well as on individual bodies and minds. More broadly, I would like to think about how humans react to crises, genuine expressions of solidarity giving rise to desire to control others, empathy contaminated with fear.

While acknowledging the challenges of these times, I will also seek out possibilities for finding meaning, joy, and pleasure even in these precarious circumstances. Making sour dough, growing herbs, and falling in love with one’s dog are on my mind a lot these days, and will feature in the poems. I will also think about technology, the emancipatory potential of a crisis, and ways of envisioning a future worthy of those who come after us.

Since my primary goal is to raise funds in support of Tupelo Press, I ask you to support my writing marathon with a donation. Small donations are lovely tokens of appreciation for the craft and the craftspersons. If you PM me your address along with a donation of $18+, over the next few months I will send you a handsome thank-you postcard with a few lines of poetry written or picked especially for you, a unique memento from this strange shared moment in our lives.

Sometimes I craft new poems in English by translating somebody else’s work, and during the month of June I offer these skills as a gift for those who’d life to make a larger donation. It’s a wonderful way to express your solidarity with the press and the poet you admire, amplifying their voice through the English language translation.

In honor of a $55+ donation to Tupelo, I offer to translate a poem of your choice, and in honor of a $195 – a cycle of four-five poems. This could be your own work; work by a poet you wish to support, either openly or under a pseudonym; or an open-source poem you’d like to see translated (e.g. for an article/essay you’ve always wanted to write, or for a performance piece, teaching, or your own pleasure). You could also send me a fragment, not to exceed 125 words.

My preferred source languages are Ukrainian and Russian, and the target language is English.

Please note that I reserve the right to decline to translate a specific poem/cycle -- you’re welcome to check in with me prior to making a donation. Along with your inquiry, please send a short note from the author granting me permission to translate and publish (I’ll provide you with a template, if you’d like). If you prefer to remain anonymous, I’ll do my best to obtain the permission directly from the author.

The first draft may appear on the Tupelo 30/30 website and social media feeds, and subsequent drafts may be published elsewhere.

You can view my bio, awards, and publications here.