city silhouette


Oleskandr Irvanets

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Oleskandr Irvanets


    So for every Cossack

    From a pauper to an ataman

    There is one mother Ukraine,

    But there is also Panama Mama.


    Kyiv is the mother of all Panamian cities,

    Salvadorian and Surinamian,

    And Puerto-, and Costa-Rican,

    And Soviet, and post-Soviet ones, –

    All cities where the citizens of Panama

    Feel themselves to be masters.


    Flow, my song, like tequila!

    Reach both the wise and the stupid,

    Both a narcologist, and an addict –

    We’re all covered by Panama Mama.


    So, when we’re almost finished,

    Parched lips whisper: ‘Pana–’

    We have to rise. And again

    Flaps the banner of Panama!


    December 1998

    (Oleskandr Irvanets. Satyricon-ХХІ. Kharkiv: Folio, 2011, p. 680.)

    The poem comes from The Poems of the Last Decade (2001). The use of Latino-American exoticism is typical of Bubabists: for example, in Yurii Andrukhovych’s poem The Cossack Jamaica. That is not the matter of exoticism per se, but the fact that Ukrainian literature had to cope with post-colonial topics and traumas in a way similar to Latin-American literatures.


    Parched lips whisper: ‘Pana – an allusion to the Russian poem Granada (1926) by Mikhail Svetlov, where the protagonist dreams of a far-away land: ‘I saw, above the body, / the Moon vailed, / And the dead lips / Whispered Grana

  • Kyiv has your face

    With greenish eyes.

    You are not dear as you are the dearest.

    You are the consequence and not a cause.


    You are the result, the concourse of circumstances

    In this autumn, in my life.

    Whatever plot I choose for you –

    A novelette, a play, a poem,


    You grow out of the plot,

    Develop it like a film,

    As you smooth your hair

    With the slightest of gestures.


    A shot develops on the film

    (As if the shutters are opened);

    And now we’re descending in an elevator

    And your eyes meet mine.

    (‘Bu-Ba-Bu’: Collected Works. Lviv: Piramida, 2007, p. 241–242.)
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