Werwolf Sutra

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Yuri Andrukhovych, Poet and Novelist, Ivano-Frankivsk

Yuri Andrukhovych was born in 1960 in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. In 1985, together with Viktor Neborak and Oleksandr Irvanets, he founded the popular literary performance group "Bu-Ba-Bu" Burlesque-Bluster-Buffoonery). He has published four poetry books — Sky and Squares (1985), Downtown (1989), Exotic Birds and Plants (1991, new editions 1997 and 2002) and The Songs for A Dead Rooster (2004). Andrukhovych`s prose works, the novels Recreations (1992, new editions 1997, 2003, 2004), Moscoviada (1993, new editions 1997 and 2000), Perverzion (1996, new editions 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004), 12 Rings (2003) and Mystery (2007) have had a great impact on readers in Ukraine. Andrukhovych also writes literary essays (collected in Disorientation in Locality, 1999 and The Devil is in the Cheese, 2006). Together with Polish writer Andrzej Stasiuk he published My Europe (2000 and 2001). Yuriy Andrukhovych's books are translated and published in Poland, Germany, Canada, USA, Hungary, Finland, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Croatia and Bulgaria. Three of Yuriy Andrukhovych's novels are available in English translation: Recreations (CIUS Press, 1998), Perverzion (Northwestern University Press, 2005), The Moscoviad (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2008). He is the laureate of four prestigious international literary awards: Herder Preis (Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, Hamburg, 2001), Erich-Maria Remarque Friedenspreis (Osnabrück, 2005), Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung (2006), Central-European Literary Award „Angelus"(Wroclaw, 2006).

The reception was graciously sponsored by The Washington Group.

WERWOLF SUTRA

In German it's called
Hochsitz.
That kind of wooden cabin on stilts
from which you can shoot
wild boar more easily. Some say,
deer.
But there are so many of them, they're everywhere –
those little watch towers.
It's as though the people here
live only for hunting or for dreams
about hunting.

You meet a lot of foxes here
(one of them ran across the path
on the first night), they put down
something for them, against rabies, so they can't
go crazy anymore.

And those ruins, those former
army towns! Overgrown with field horsetail,
barracks, shooting yards, squares, outbuildings, guards posts,
painterly signatures on the walls of the gymnasiums,
writings on the walls of the wash houses and bogs.

It's enough to make you want to raise your index finger
and announce "Ash of the Imperia"

Meanwhile this is about a much simpler thing.
At six in the morning (in Moscow it was eight)
they drove them out of the barracks.
Then all that idiocy with songs, morning drill
and washing, brain-washing, cleaning
the territory, the sprawling butter of breakfast, the day until evening,
so many days until the end of service.

This time it's about
Privates Muhamedyarov, Fiedotov and Pereverten,
whose names for centuries (not for centuries!)
were written on the blackboards (of being?) along with the numbers
of their Kamaz trucks.

Fiedotov was in the middle, on the right Muhamedyarov,
on Fiedotov's left side – Pereverten.
As far as the first two are concerned it's clear: Russian, Tatar.
But that third one? Where's he going with a name like that?

No one liked Pereverten for his innate cunning
and stupid surname.

They couldn't not laugh at a name like that.
He didn't know himself what it meant.

But in German it means
Werwolf! With a black palate!
The terror of all villages and towns around!
Romantic hero of fairy tales and ballads!

Oh indestructible, almost immortal werewolf!
Escape before they round you up!
Before they aim at you from their wooden towers!
Demobilisation inescapable! I know you can do it!
Resurrect! Become yourself, Pereverten!

This poem appears in the 2004 poetry collection Pisni dlia mertvoho pivnia (Songs for A Dead Rooster).

Translated by Sarah Luczaj.

For all other texts read by Yuri Andrukhovych at the Kennan Institute, please click here.