June 21, 1956 (age 59) Irtyshsk, Kazakhstan (
Poet, writer, playwright, journalist, translator
The Pripyat Syndrome: A Film Story
Lyubov sirota radiophobia
Lyubov Sirota (Ukrainian: Любов Макарівна Сирота; born June 21, 1956) is a Ukrainian poet, writer, playwright, journalist and translator. As a former inhabitant of the city of Pripyat and an eyewitness (and victim) of the Chernobyl disaster, she has devoted a great part of her creative output to the 1986 catastrophe. She writes in both Ukrainian and Russian, and also translates from Ukrainian into Russian and vice versa. Her poems have been translated into many languages, including English.
- Lyubov sirota radiophobia
- At chernobyl npp lyubov sirota explains radiation levels
- Article and essays
- Books and publications
At chernobyl npp lyubov sirota explains radiation levels
Sirota was born in Irtyshsk, Pavlodar Province, Kazakhstan (then a part of the USSR) to a large family which had been deported from Ukraine. When she was one, her family moved to the Kyrgyzstan capital, Frunze (now Bishkek). Her mother wanted to move to the city so that her children could have more opportunities for education and development. Sirota spent her childhood in Frunze, where she was a member of the city literary studio ("The Dawn of Mountains"). There she developed a dissident spirit: fostering freedom and love of truth. Her first literary works were printed in Kyrgyzstan magazines.
In 1975 Sirota moved with her parents to their ancestral homeland, Ukraine. There, she received a degree in Russian language and literature from the philology department at Dnipropetrovsk National University. In 1983 she moved with her son Alexander to the new city of Pripyat (near the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, 1.5 km away), where she headed the literary group "Prometheus" and a literary studio for children. She also managed department of the Palace of Culture "Energetik" (literally, the "energy plant worker"). At the Palace of Culture, Sirota wrote and directed two plays: the musical "We Couldn't Not Find Each Other" and "My Specialty — a life", a biography of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. The latter play was more successful, and was scheduled to be repeated when the Chernobyl nuclear station exploded on April 26, 1986. Sirota and her son were among the tens of thousands evacuated from the area following the event. Their lives were forever changed due to the evacuation, the loss of friends and acquaintances, and the assault on their health due to radiation exposure.
Despite her suffering, however, the experience enhanced Sirota's poetic talent. To express her grief and rage she wrote poetry and collected them in a book, "Burden". Burden was published in 1990 in Kiev (capital of Ukraine), where Sirota (as of 2011) lives with her family. In Kiev, Sirota worked as a film editor in the film studio named after Alexander Dovzhenko. After her evacuation from Pripyat she reorganized "Prometheus", using poetry and music to proclaim the truth about the Chernobyl area and its people. However, repeated hospitalization for fatigue and pain (typical results of radiation exposure) increasingly interfered with her work. Since 1992 Sirota has been an invalid; however, at home she continues her efforts to prevent another Chernobyl.
Her poems have been translated from Russian into other languages, and are known in many countries from the translation of Burden into English by Elisavietta Ritchie, Leonid Levin and Birgitta Ingemanson, with the assistance of Professor Paul Brians in the United States. Sirota's poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies in the United States, Canada and the UK.
The hard life experience after Chernobyl has led Lyubov Sirota to the understanding what terrible danger the atomic engineering and all dangerous technologies carry, the pain-alarm was already not only for destiny of own family, own city, own country (Ukraine), but also for destiny of all world, for all, who live on the Earth. This universal pain dictated more from the lines of her poems after Chernobyl. She is convinced, that to describe all this there will be not enough of one life, therefore the theme of Chernobyl, as well as a theme of a survival and spiritual regeneration of mankind – continue to remain the main themes of her poetry, journalism and prose now… Especially fully and sharply these themes are expressed in her essay about the destinies of Chernobyl women "Excessive burden" and in her prose book – film-story "Pripyat syndrome", which has been recently issued at support of the site Pripyat.com and the International public organization "Center PPIPYAT.com", as a Russian/English edition of the poems illustrated with photos of Prypiat – "To an Angel of Pripyat", published 2010. Also this life experience after Chernobyl has led to the understanding of necessity to search for a way for survival of mankind and rescue of our planet. So "The Appeal to the citizens of the Earth from the victims of Chernobyl" has arisen, from which the International Annual Action "The Saved Planet" has begun. One of Lyubov Sirota's articles "The modelling of the future — is a reality" is devoted to this theme.
Sirota's poetry became more widely known after Rollan Sergienko's 1988 film about the Chernobyl catastrophe, Threshold on YouTube (which she co-authored) and her 1990 anthology Burden, published in Kiev.
Burden opens with a triptych of poems devoted to the evacuated city of Pripyat. The dead city only comes to life at night, in the dreams of people who have fled from it:
"At night, of course, our town though emptied forever, comes to life. There, our dreams wander like clouds, illuminate windows with moonlight." (Translated from the Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie)
In the second verse, we see stars falling on a city roadway:
"…And stars are thrust down onto the pavement, to stand guard until morning." (Translated from the Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie)
The city dies at each dawn:
"…We are doomed to be left behind by the flock in the harshest of winters… But when you fly off don't forget us, grounded in the field! And no matter to what joyful faraway lands your happy wings bear you, may our charred wings protect you from carelessness." (Translated from the Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie)
Sirota's poetry is, at times, full of indignation:
"…But nothing will silence us! Even after death, from our graves we will appeal to your Conscience not to transform the Earth into a sarcophagus! … (Translated from the Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie)
The third poem of the triptych is devoted to reflection on moral responsibility and civil duties:
"…Life went up in smoke from somebody's campfire (this world has inquisitors to spare!). Everything burned, burned up. Even the ashes were not always left behind…
...But with merciful hands you extinguish the fatal fire under me. May the flame of the redeemed soul shield you!" (Translated from the Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie)
Sirota is especially angry in her poem, Radiophobia (radiophobia is the fear of ionizing radiation), which is directed against the lies and double standards of the criminal authorities of the former USSR).
Radiophobia (featured in Threshold and on radio) inspired Julio Soto (writer-director of the Spanish-American film Radiophobia) and artist Michael Genovese (painter of window frescoes containing the poem in the Ukrainian Village, Chicago, in 2006).
"For those who were at the epicenter of the Chernobyl cataclysm this word is a grievous insult. It treats the normal impulse to self-protection, natural to everything living, your moral suffering, your anguish and your concern about the fate of your children, relatives and friends, and your own physical suffering and sickness as a result of delirium, of pathological perversion. This term deprives those who became Chernobyl's victims of hope for a better future because it dismisses as unfounded all their claims concerning physical health, adequate medical care, food, decent living conditions, and just material compensation. It causes an irreparable moral harm, inflicting a sense of abandonment and social deprivation that is inevitable in people who have gone through such a catastrophe."
Before the Chernobyl catastrophe Lyubov Sirota wrote more the lyrical poems, which were published in some periodicals of Kyrgyzstan and in newspapers of Ukraine: "Dnepr Miner", "Tribune of Power Specialist", "Flag of the Victory", etc.; in the literary almanac "Literary Ukraine"; in the collective poetic collections of Ukraine — "The Steps" and of Russia – "The Sources", etc.
After Chernobyl her products were published in such newspapers, almanacs, of Ukraine: “The Truth Ukraine”, “Literary Ukraine”, "National newspaper", "Independent Ukraine", "Our Ukraine", "Your Health ", "Ukrainian Forum ", "Education", "Chernobyl Newspaper", "Post Chernobyl " and in many other; in the magazines “Ukraine”, “Dnipro”, "Extreme Situation", "Scientific World", etc., in Latvian magazine " Cinema " №4/1989; and in the poetic collections: "Chernobyl. Days of tests" (Kiev, 1988), "Passing in a zone" — the poetic anthology (Kiev, 1996), "Chernobyl beside..." (Kiev, 2000), etc.
Now her poems are known all over the world, thanks to the translations into English, German, Japanese, Italian, Polish (in Polish her lyrical poems have been published in the collective collection "Ukrainian Love Poetry", Warszawa, 1991). But nevertheless her poetry became more known, thanking the long-term diligence of the professor of Washington University Paul Brians and his web page about Lyubov Sirota "The Chernobyl Poems of Lyubov Sirota". So her poems have sounded in the National radio of America (program Terra Infirma), have been issued in English in such anthologies, almanacs, magazines and poetic collections of the USA and Canada: "Life on the Line: Selections on Words and Healing"; "Perspectives from the Past"; "A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women's Poetry", and also in the Canadian and American magazines: "Calyx", "Woman World", "Promin'", "Journal of the American Medical Association"; "New York Quarterly", "WISE", "The Russell Record Magazine", "The Modern Review", "In Our Own Words", etc.
Her own translations of the poetry of known Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus in Russian have been issued in the book "Vasyl Stus. "And you same burn down" (Kiev, 2005).
Article and essays
Books and publications
– ISBN 0-393-95879-5 (rbk.)
– ISBN 0-393-97822-2 (rbk.)