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New book edited by university academics details conflict of a country under fire

A graphic of the book Writing Under Fire

A University of Wolverhampton academic has joined forces with Ukrainian and Black Country writers to publish a unique collection of writing which reflects on the impact of terror and trauma inflicted on the country in the two years since the war started. 

Ten writers from the Ukraine and 10 from the Black Country in the West Midlands are getting set to launch the book, Writing Under Fire, at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival on Saturday 3 February, followed by a launch in London at the Ukrainian Institute in March 2024.  

The collection includes key contemporary Ukrainian writers such as Halyna Kruk as well as Victoria Amelina, who was killed by a Russian air strike last year as well as Black Country writers including Niall Griffiths, Anthony Cartwright and poet, Kuli Kohli. 

Bas Groes, Professor of English Literature in the University’s School of Humanities, one of the editors of the book, said: “In this unique collection, Ukrainian writers reflect on Russia’s war against their country to understand the impact of the terror and trauma that is being inflicted. They receive responses from colleagues whose work is connected to the UK’s Black Country. Sometimes the British writers link tangentially with their Ukrainian counterparts yet at other times we find more direct, intimate conversations. The unfolding transcultural dialogue builds a literary bridge that aims to support Ukraine.   

“Writing Under Fire offers crafted fragments of clarity and wisdom that confront military fire power. The volume has writing by some of Ukraine’s foremost contemporary writers including Victoria Amelia, who was killed by a Russian air strike. Though some of the contributions are written by active soldiers who send dispatches from the frontline, this book presents a diverse range of perspectives.  

“The twenty-one pieces in this book use a wide variety of form and style as well as literary genres including folklore and fairy tales to give voice to an unspeakable situation. Together, they write back in protest against the inhumanity and injustice of what is being done to a sovereign people.” 

The book has been edited by Sebastian Groes, Carmel Doohan, the University of Wolverhampton’s Honorary Professor, Sofiya Filonenko, and Kerry Hadley-Price. 

The book has been published by Jetstone Publishers and will be available to buy from 3 February 2024 from the Jetstone website, Waterstones Wolverhampton and at the Wolverhampton Literary Festival.   

Anyone interested in studying for courses in the Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 

Ukrainian poet Victoria Amelina

A Poem About The Poet's Death 

when a poet is shot dead  
readers ask his colleagues 
can you please write a poem 
about the poet's death? 

the poem should start with love 
maybe go through some rage 

fear becoming fury 

but in a couple of lines 

inevitably return to love 

love should always prevail 
at least in poetry 
the surviving poets listen 
standing around the grave 
like King Arthur's knights 
thinking of the holy grail 
of literature 
having their words ready 
like swords for love 
and then something changes 
another bombing begins 
or it begins to snow 
so silently 
as if the world was written 
only by the dead poet 
and other poets have quit 

Victoria Amelina  (2023)



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