Cover Image for Poems: (the fish speaks), (witnesses of war crimes)

Poems: (the fish speaks), (witnesses of war crimes)

Issue 1 (2024)

The bird observing the devastation brought by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam, the house of an artist uprooted by the flood, the trees stripped of their leaves by a blast wave: Kateryna Mikhalitsyna’s poems give them a voice so they can testify about Russia’s war crimes.


(the fish speaks)

To Polina Rayko’s house and all the people and animals, homes and gardens that perished in the aftermath of the Kakhovka Dam destruction

The fish speaks: There are so many dead here
that the sea will be too small
to take them all.

The bird speaks: However strong my voice is,
it won’t last to sing for all their funerals,
from dusk to the rise of morning stars —
the ones signalling light at the end of the tunnel.

The boat speaks: For however long I sail,
I will ferry none of them across, to the Great Beyond;
I will only spin around in circles —
my roots anchor me here,
for their sake and for my own.

The landmine speaks: I’m foul-mouthed
and will soon explode.

And the house drifts and listens.
And on her sides are marvellous beasts.
And in her attic — a cradle, rock-a-bye.
And on her windows — flowery headscarves,
an oven fork hugging a plough rests on an icon, peering into a chest full of jugs.
And at the bottom of those jugs is the Cossack Sich,
the Trakai walls, and the cherry laughter.

Swaying, the house drifts.
And in her lungs is the black water.
And in her womb is the human and the divine.

The fish speaks. The bird speaks. The boat speaks.
The landmine speaks — the loudest.
Only the house keeps silent.
She listens how the caviar of death swells between their words.


Read in Ukrainian.


(witnesses of war crimes)

in this land, even trees bear witness.

please hug me gently, asks the ash tree
on the side of the road, now even gentleness hurts.

wounds ache for a long time, like fallen nuts,
green as July in which an abyss yawned,
and you can’t bridge it, whispers the walnut tree, stark naked.
I’m deaf, says the acacia —
it stands on tiptoe, motionless, watching for swifts;
it sees them but cannot hear.

I have third-degree burns, moans the fir tree,
the world around me breathes heat
like the fiery maw of the dragon that devours me…
and I, I’m too unscathed among you, why,
says the dogwood tree softly, drooping its leaves,
inwardly withered by survivor’s guilt.

the dust swirls up. it shrouds the salt of their testimony
in the billows of silence.
who will listen to these trees?
who will call them as witnesses in court?


Kateryna Mikhalitsyna is a Ukrainian writer, translator, literary editor, a member of PEN Ukraine and New York Literary Festival NGO, founded by Victoria Amelina in the Donetsk region in 2021. Mikhalitsyna is an award-winning author of more than twenty books for children and several collections of poetry. Her picture book series Who Grows in the Park/Garden/Woods illustrated by Oksana Bula has been published in more than twelve countries. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mikhalitsyna has participated in cultural events aimed at highlighting Russian atrocities and war crimes against Ukraine. She also coordinates an initiative started by Lithuanian writers Laurynas Katkus, Marius Burokas, and Donatas Petrošius based on the Literature Fund of the Lithuanian Writers Union. Kateryna lives in Lviv with her family and two rescued dogs.


Image: Kateryna Aliinyk, from the specially commissioned Fruits We Did Not Know series, 2024.

Cover Image for War on the Environment

War on the Environment

Issue 1 (2024)

This issue of the London Ukrainian Review looks into Russia’s war on nature in Ukraine and its global repercussions. The editor Sasha Dovzhyk reflects on how Ukrainian and international responses to Russia’s wanton damage to the environment shape our present and future.

Sasha Dovzhyk
Cover Image for In Conversation: Stop Ecocide Co-Founder Jojo Mehta

In Conversation: Stop Ecocide Co-Founder Jojo Mehta

Issue 1 (2024)

Jojo Mehta speaks about the addition of ecocide as the fifth international crime to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the impact of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on international legal discourse, and the significance of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam for the debate.

Anna Ackermann