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Poems of Our Children

Artist Feature of Lesia Maruschak

Lay stone on top of stone, build your house: on clay, on hard black soil, pick from the earth's pockets coal and salt. everybody needs a roof for weddings and funerals. - Serhiy Zhadan, excerpt from “How Did We Build Our Houses”, translated by Amelia Glaser

Inspired by a time-bending poem by Serhiy Zhadan, Poems of Our Children moves fluidly between Canada and Ukraine, reconnecting sites of historical displacement, imprisonment, resettlement, and genocide.

An expansive multimedia project, Poems of Our Children investigates three far-reaching atrocities which are temporally and geographically dislocated. The famine-genocide in Soviet Ukraine (1932–1933) known as the Holodomor, during which more than four million people died, is brought into dialogue with Canada’s first wartime internment program (1914–1920) when 9,000 people of largely Ukrainian origin were imprisoned in camps across the country. These injustices are interwoven with Russia’s 2022 unprovoked invasion of Ukraine - a historical movement and humanitarian crisis the scale of which has not been seen since WWII.

Using various art genres, photography, dance, and sculpture from intimate and credible eyewitnesses, the project unveils these three narratives of trauma, displacement, and resistance among colonized and exiled peoples. Poems of Our Children works to give agency to the children displaced and traumatized by war and questions the way the land holds our emotions and is activated by our presence.