In wartime, culture can't help but warm its hands over the misfortune of others. Igor Pomerantsev


Igor Pomerantsev was born in Saratov, USSR, in 1948. He studied English philology and pedagogy at the University of Chernovtsy (Czernowitz).

His poetry was first published in 1972 in the Moscow magazine "Smena". At this time he also became involved with the Ukrainian civil right movement. In 1976 Pomerantsev was arrested by KGB, accused of distributing anti-Soviet literature and listening to foreign, "enemy", radio stations. In 1977 he was officially encouraged to emigrate together with his wife and son Peter, and the next year he left for Germany. In 1979 he moved to London to for the Russian Service of the BBC. In 1987 he moved to Munich to produce the Russian-language culture program "Over the Barriers" for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Since March 2022  together with Ivan Tolstoy he is creating for RFE/RL  the podcast "Humanitarian Corridor".


Pomerantsev has lived in Prague since 1995. His contributions - translated into German and/or Englisch - created the impetus and the editorial basis for the digital time train "Zeitzug", online since 2008. Starting in 2010 he became one of the founding members of the International Poetry Festival he became one of the founding members of the International Poetry Festival Meridian Czernowitz. 

Milena Findeis, publisher Zeitzug

Awards: P.A.Viazemskij Prize-winner (1996, Niznij Novgorod), Literary Magazine "October" Prize-winner (2006, Moscow), International Radio Festival Prize-winner (2011, Tallinn), Tsarkoselskaya Khudozhestennaya Premiya (2013, Petersburg)

Cross My Heart

In August 2015 I was in Kharkiv making a film with some Ukrainian colleagues about army psychologists and their patients. We had tracked down the psychologists and found three patients – a wounded fighter, a former prisoner of war and a woman refugee from the Donbass – who were willing to talk on camera. All we needed then was three or four minutes of front-line city atmosphere for background.

Kharkiv lives parallel lives: summertime easy living and a barely discernible war. More than a hundred thousand refugees try to remain invisible, though the queues for handouts are plainly to be seen. In a little more than a year the army hospital 'processed' more than ten thousand soldiers. Many of them did not go back home or to the front, but were returned to the cemeteries of their towns and villages. This zone of misfortune, physical suffering and agony behind barrack walls is off limits to film crews. The director of the film, Lidia Starodubtseva, and I went into the hospital with a concealed camera to interview the fighter. Otherwise we couldn't have got in. We brought him fruit and juice as a cover, while secretly filming the rows of crutches and empty wheelchairs lining the corridors, the silhouettes of patients smoking in the yard.

Culture in wartime is in a kind of no man's land. It pokes about furtively in other people's wounds. One of the medics told us how he was in a truck with his unit when they came under fire. It was winter. The medic was in luck. He came out of it without a scratch. But his head and feet were so frozen, his teeth were chattering. Suddenly he felt his chest go hot. He looked down at his combat jacket and saw he was hot from the blood of a dead comrade. This story scorched my memory. I recalled some lines the Soviet front-line poet Iona Degen wrote in 1944:

My comrade, in your death agon
Do not call on your friends in vain. 
Better I warm my hands
Over your steaming blood.

In wartime culture can't help but warm its hands over the misfortune of others. But it has a justfication for doing so. Images of death, despair, grief registered by a poet, composer, artist, can postpone new wars, yes, postpone, but not prevent.

Igor Pomerantsev translated by Frank Williams


Amputation: Documentary Film


English "Zeitzug" contributions:

In Conversation with

About Frank Williams

About Igor Pomerantsev

Voices of Russian Literature

Bücher (Russisch) / Books (Russian)

  • "Aubades and Serenades", Russian Roulette Press, London 1985
  • "Poems of Various Days", "Sovietskij Pisatel", Sankt Petersburg, 1993
  • "The Beaufort Scale", Urbi Publishing House, Sankt Petersburg, 1997
  • "News", Fact Publishing House, Kyiv, 1998
  • "Red Dry", NLO Publishing House, Moskau, 2000
  • "Family Status", O.G.I., Moskau, 2002
  • "Radio S", MK-Periodika, Moskau, 2002
  • "Radio Lyrics", NLO, Moskau, 2007
  • "KGB and Other Poems ...", NLO, Moskau 2010
  • "Off License", Meridian Czernowitz, 2010
  • "Czernowitz", Meridian Czernowitz, 2012
  • "Late Vintage", Victoria Korchina and Andrej Maksimkov, Sankt Petersburg, 2013
  • Вы меня слышите? Can you hear me?, Meridian Czernowitz 2018

Bücher (Ukrainisch) / Books (Ukrainian)

  • "KGB and Other Poems ...", Verlag Grani-T, Kiew, 2009 "КГБ та інші..." - Grani-T, Kyiv, 2009
  • "Off License", Meridian Czernowitz, 2011 "Винарні" - Meridian Czernowitz,Kyiv-Chernivtsi, 2011
  • "Homo Eroticus", Duh i Litera, Kiew 2013 Gedichtband; Bilderzyklus für das Buch "Homo Eroticus"
  • "On Air", Kulturtagebuch - 40 Jahre, UKU, Lemberg 2014 Вільний простір - Vydavnyctvo UKU, Lviv, 2014

Czech/v češtiněIgor Jakovlevič Pomerancev

Ruský režim je jako rakovina, ČESKÁ POZICE, 15.6.2014
ROZHOVOR S IGOREM POMERANCOVEM, Jana Kitzlerová - tvar 2018/15
Výbor Náš čas vypršel představuje českému čtenáří texty Igora Pomeranceva v takto ucelené podobě vůbec poprvé. Básně vybrala, uspořádala a přeložila Jana Kitzlerová na základě ruského originálu sbírek KGB a jíné básně, 2010 a Služební Lyrika, 2007,, 2020
Výbor textů Můj první kryt (soubor převážně esejů, črt či dokumentárních próz) staví do protikladu multikulturní a vícejazyčný svět sovětské (ukrajinské) Bukoviny minulého století a výsostně aktuální situaci na Ukrajině po vypuknutí ruské agrese, tedy po 24. únoru 2022. V překladu Jany Kitzlerové přibližuje příběhy lidí, kteří přišli kvůli válce o své blízké, o své domovy či kteří utrpěli těžká tělesná zranění. Při jedné z návštěv Aleny Wagnerové v Praze jsem jí na dlouhou cestu z Prahy do Saarbrückenu věnovala knihu Igora Pomeranceva Můj první kryt 

2022  "KGB i inne wiersze" Igora Pomierancewa w przekładzie Zbigniewa Dmitrocy! Projekt okładki Ewelina Kruszewska (Ewe Kruszewska)

Игорь Померанцев

What Is the Secret of Chernivtsi?: A Conversation with Ihor Pomerantsev, LARB by Kate Tsurkan, 26.12.2022
The distorting mirror A conversation between Igor Pomerantsev and Peter Pomerantsev, 2019/12, Eurozine

RADIO SVOBODA - collection in Russian
LYRIKLINE Listen do the Poet
Игорь Померанцев: Олена Холоденко
«В стране существует глубокая дисфункция — как бы парламент, как бы демократия, как бы журналистика» 
Поверх барьеров с Иваном Толстым. 40 лет на радио: беседа с Игорем Померанцевым


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