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Az is Iryna Shuvalova’s third book of poems and the first letter of the Old Church Slavonic alphabet. ‘Az’ also means ‘I’ — the word that in contemporary Ukrainian is written with the last letter of the alphabet. That’s how the first letter finds its end in itself and becomes the last one, while the last one finds in the first one its beginning. The snake bites its own tail and goes on unendingly.


Az is the book of cycles: it is made up of leaving and returning, of the movements of the tides, of dying and being reborn, of merging and dividing and then becoming one again. The earth is the element of this book, and it is through its red mud, its stubborn dust, its boulders and its crust, that the green life eventually comes through into the world. In this sense, Az is the beginning of the orchard.





‘Litakcent’ Book of the Year Prize

for poetry

short list

The word “field” suits Shuvalova’s book well. An intricate medieval herbarium of illuminated manuscripts comes to life on her pages and runs off into the actual kingdom of plants. (...) The main character of this book at times crosses the boundaries of human-ness. Ans isn’t this what we all secretly yearn for? To shed the conventions of the status of “homo sapiens,” to give in to the game, to the passion: “‘to be’ means to stand with a rose in one’s paws / over the abyss, under the avalanche of rot and bloom.”

Natalka Belchenko




She [Shuvalova] is seemingly uninterested in the literal meanings of the words, while their figurative meanings change for her depending on the context. Perhaps even depending on the breath. Instead of the literal meaning, we find what was absent before. [This is] not comparing and finding similarities but the discovery of a whole new mission of the word.

Vasyl Herasymiuk

Isn’t this why Shuvalova is luring us in with the castanet-like clacking of her rhymes? Isn’t her aim to upend this whole elaborate structure of poetic reality with one single move, reminding us of an entirely different dimension where nothing she voices and sings of matters, where the laws at work are altogether different, where a different depth is gaping and an entirely different level of existence unfolds?

Svitlana Bohdan

Publisher: Elektroknyha

Pages: 114

Language: Ukrainian

ISBN: 9786177026227

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