During a poetry reading by Olena Jennings and Krystia Nora, from their book “Ukrainian-American Poets Respond,” there was a Q&A session with the audience at the Boswell Book Company on December 14. Instead of presenting a question, however, one young woman asked if she could read her own poems.

Lola Vaganova began by apologizing for standing up to speak, instead of asking a question. The 21-year-old explained in English that she was a refugee from Izium, Ukraine. It was a tremendous act of courage for the audience to witness.

“I really wanted to say thank you, to each and every one of you, who found time to come here and to speak, and to just listen, and to support Ukraine,” Vaganova said. “Unfortunately, I went through all of those emotions that you have described in your poems. And my own form of therapy was poetry as well.”

Vaganova said that she had written a few poems in a bomb shelter in Ukraine, having no idea if she would live to see another tomorrow. She wrote two poems to express her feelings in Ukrainian. She wrote a third poem in Russian, to her former Russian friends, to share the truth about the war that they were not getting on state TV or social media.

“I would like to read these for you, just to hear Ukrainian, which is such a melodic language. It is so beautiful, and it carries so much trauma, our suffering throughout history,” added Vaganova.

The poems written by Vaganova were not included in the book Ukrainian-American Poets Respond. But Vaganova provided them to Milwaukee Independent to be published, two in Ukrainian and one in Russian. She also translated them into English specifically for this feature.


Війна – лиш слово,
Ми знаємо його давно, воно не ново,
А скільки ж в ньому горя!
І боримося ми завжди за волю!
А також за майбутнє і за долю…

Сьогодні ми могли б навчатись,
Творити, розвиватись,
І просто зустрічатись…

Але… війна…
Зараз важливо не мовчати!
Хоча так хочеться кричати,
Ридати і ВОПИТИ!!!
Ні! Зараз точно необхідно говорити

Згадайте тільки
Що можна все змінити
І знову мислити, радіти,
Любити всіх людей і просто жити
В мирі…

“THE WAR” by Lola Vaganova

«The war» is just a word
We know it for a while, it isn’t new
But how much sorrow is in it!
And all the time we fight just for the freedom!

Today we could study,
Create, grow (thrive),
And just meet with each other…

But… the war…
Now it’s important not to be silent!
There is a desire to scream,
Weep and YELL!!!
No! Right now everyone has to speak up! Every person!!!

Just remember!
We can change everything!
And we can yet again think clearly, cheer,
Love every human being
And just live
In peace…

The war

“The war” is just a word like other few,
We’ve known it for a while, it isn’t new…
But there is so much pain and sorrow!
And all the time we fight for our freedom for tomorrow!

Today we could study,
Create and thrive,
Just meet with each other,
Live normal life…

However… the war…
Now it’s important not to stay silent!
When we want to scream,
Weep and YELL!!! It’s so violent!
Yes! Right now everyone has to speak out! Every person is obligated to shout!

Just remember!
The change is possible!
All the guilty will be responsible!
And after some time there will be a cease…
And we’ll finally live…
In peace…

Небо належить кожному

Небо належить кожному
Той, хто все знає давно,
Поясни мені цю дивину:
Небо кожному оку дано
У всю свою величину.

Належить мені, коли вгору дивлюся.
Так само – старому, дитині…
Належить поету, царю, королю,
Робітнику і всякій людині…

Немає такого бідного,
Щоб ним не володарював.
Що лев, що наляканий кролик
Його однаково мав.

Небо належить всім,
І кожен, якщо йому це вподобає,
Повний місяць, комети, зірки
І сонце собі забирає…

Всякий очима збирає, що треба,
І вже більш ні в чому не має потреби:
Хто востаннє у небо вдивляється ніжно,
Не знаходить його менш розкішним!

Тоді поясніть мені,
У прозі чи віршах,
Чому небо все ціле,
А земля – пошматована грішми?


The sky belongs to everyone
The wisest man alive,
Explain this peculiarity:
The sky belongs to every form of life
In all it’s glory, without disparity

I look up – and it’s mine,
The young and the old,
A poet, a king fine,
The bold have it all, ahold

You don’t need dime
To posses it in your time…
You don’t need to be strong,
It doesn’t matter if you are wrong –

The sky belongs to everyone,
And each of us, if desired,
The whole moon, comets, stars
And sun observes, and never gets tired…

We pick with our eyes what we need,
And have all of the treasures indeed!
Who stares in the sky at last
Doesn’t find it less splendid if asked…

Then tell me please, in poetry or prose,
Thou who truly knows:
Why is the sky whole and sunny
And the land is divided by money?

The sky belongs to everyone

The one who knows everything for some time
Explain to me this peculiarity:
The sky belongs to everyone
In all it’s glory

Belongs to me when I rise my eyes,
The same with the old and the young…
Belongs to a poet, a tsar, a king,
A worker – every human being…

There is no poor
Who wouldn’t possess it,
Both – a lion and a scared rabbit
Have the same amount of it.

The sky belongs to everyone
And each of us, if desired,
The whole moon, comets, stars
And sun can take for themselves

Everyone picks with thou eyes what needs
And then doesn’t require anything…
Who stares in the sky for the last time
Doesn’t find it less splendid…

Then tell me please,
In prose or in poetry,
Why is the sky whole
And the land is divided by money?


Жить хорошо
не зная боли,
Всё время проводить в были
И не нуждаться воли…

Жить хорошо
Не зная горя
Чужого человека,
Все доводы его оспоря…

Жить в небылицах, байках
И вранье –
Такой судьбы хотите вы себе?

Да, для вас наверно
Жить хорошо сейчас
Зато потом
Вам вечно всем гореть в инферно

“TO LIVE” by Lola Vaganova

It’s nice to live
Not knowing pain
To spend all time in the past
And not need to be free

It’s nice to live
Not knowing the grief
Of another person
Denying all their reasons

To live in fables,
Tales and lies –
Do you want this kind of future for yourself?

Yes, you, most likely,
Have a great life now,
However later
You’ll all burn in inferno

To live

It’s nice to live, it is a blast
When there’s no pain, no need in freedom
And you are dwelling on the past

It’s nice to live
When you have heart of stone
And grief of others is to you unknown

To live in fables,
Tales and lies,
To have pink glasses on your eyes,
Or every day have a new guise
And say what they want to get a prize…
You are despised!

You think this is a paradise?
You live in Palermo?
You are like lice and soon
You’ll all burn in inferno!

Lola Vaganova

Lee Matz