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Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk to speak in Lawrence; she’ll discuss cultural invasion, war

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The University of Kansas Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES) next month will host a talk with Ukrainian poet, screenwriter and journalist Lyuba Yakimchuk.

Yakimchuk was born in 1985 in Luhansk Oblast, Pervomaisk, Ukraine. She has authored full-length poetry collections, including “Like FASHION” and “Apricots of Donbas,” as well as the film script for “The Building of the Word” and several other pieces. She recently read her “Prayer” poem alongside singer John Legend during his 2022 Grammy Awards performance.

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During her upcoming talk with CREES, “Ball and Chain: Russian Culture Invasion of Ukraine,” Yakimchuk will discuss Russia’s cultural invasion of Ukraine as it led to the current war, according to a news release. The event is this year’s Palij Lecture, an annual CREES program that brings “the world’s leading experts in Ukrainian studies to Lawrence,” funded by the Palij Family Fund.

Lyuba Yakimchuk

Yakimchuk’s talk is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St. in Lawrence. The event is free and no registration is required to attend.

“In her talk, Lyuba will explain that what is currently happening in Ukraine is not just a war, but the spread of archaic Russian culture all over Ukraine,” the news release said. “She will examine how Russian cultural tradition affects Ukrainian culture during the ongoing war, how the Ukrainian and Russian languages are changing in Ukraine, why profanity is no longer taboo, and the ways language changes affect poetry. Her talk is about culture as a part of war and politics.”

Along with creating with words, Yakimchuk is an event creator, according to the news release. She organized a project in 2012 dedicated to Ukrainian futurists, called the “Semenko Year,” and she curated a literary program in 2015. 

“New Time” magazine in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, in 2015 deemed Yakimchuk among the 100 most influential people of culture in Ukraine. She also received the International Slavic Poetic Award as well as won the international “Coronation of the Word” literary contest, according to the news release. Her writing has appeared in magazines across the world, including in Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Israel, and it has been translated into 11 languages.

CREES is the Great Plains’ sole federally designated resource center on Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia studies, according to the release, and it has been a “national leader for the study of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since 1959.” The organization hosts public events every year, bringing experts like Yakimchuk to Kansas and aiming to expand the local community’s global understanding.

Yakimchuk’s talk is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St. in Lawrence. The event is free and no registration is required to attend. Visit this link to learn more about CREES and its work.

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