Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Poetry & Stories
11 March 2020updated 26 Jul 2021 6:41am


A new poem by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin. 

Sunday school.
The schoolyard leads to a riverbank.
A priest is fighting with the workers
who repair the road.

The blooming of irises,
a high sky over the riverbed.

The children look at illustrations.
The school textbooks
note what’s most important:

the dead leave their coffins
like it’s the subway’s last stop.
Jesus is on the cross
like a traffic cop at an intersection –
no one gets
what he really wants. 

A New Orthography, a collection of poems by Serhiy Zhadan and translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin, is published by Lost Horse Press.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

This article appears in the 11 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, How the world is closing down