With pleasure, and no small amount of astonishment, I announce today that for my ‘poetry and essays about Ukraine’ – the latter published here on the blog – I have earned a place on the list of recipients of the 2014 Hryhorii (Gregory) Skovoroda Award (honestly, in section 7, there I am: Наомі Фойл). Hryhorii Skovoroda was a 18th century Cossack poet, philosopher, teacher and composer. Born in what is now East Ukraine, and known as ‘the Russian Socrates’, he was a thinker who believed both that ‘the Kingdom is within us’ and ‘the Sanctity of human life lies in doing good to others’. According to Wiki, his philosophy found political expression in his support for the serfs, with ‘sharp hostility to the Muscovite oppressors’. He was a gentle person, so considerate of others that he literally dug his own grave – showing up at a friend’s house to stay…

Read more

1. Rebelling against the old Arab adage, the Palestinian novelist Emile Habiby ‘believed that it was possible, and even useful, to “carry two watermelons under one arm” – that is, to take up both literature and politics’. The risk, of course, being that you will drop and smash both. Everyone who knows me knows I care about Palestine. And Ukraine. And Syria. And feminism, and diversity in media and publishing, and climate change and the godawful iSore tourist tower planned for Brighton seafront . . . But this year I realised that I could not do two full-time jobs – write an SF novel a year and be a 100% committed activist – and two part-time jobs – teach and read Tarot cards – and stay sane, let alone keep even one of my passions tucked snug in my armpit. I decided to prioritise my writing and, while always allowing…

Read more

I have been wondering about Green politics in Ukraine: as all over the world, it seems that the more energy self-sufficient a country is, the better it will be able to resist dependency on any foreign power. My correspondent in Lviv, political analyst Lyuddmyla Pavlyuk, answered my questions, and with her permission I share her letter here. Green Voices in Ukraine: a Letter from Lyuddmyla Pavlyuk Green voices in Ukraine are individual than rather than party-related. The official structures of the green movement are not really popular. For example, the Green party of Ukraine had parliamentary representation only until 2002. The reason is very simple: Ukrainian oligarchs wanted to use the party’s brand to get to parliament, and people felt that the party was not really independent and concerned with the environment. So, if ecological problems appear at the nationwide or local level, people create problem-oriented groups and look for…

Read more

3/3