Olena Huseinova (b 1979) is a Ukrainian poet, whose intensely autobiographical free verses explore memory, knowledge, anxiety, the boundaries of hope and reality, and irreversibility of experience. Olena’s poetry aims at freeing women’s writing from fighting patriarchal structures of language and does so by creating territories of one’s own where men’s laws do not apply – from a girl’s room to an entire city.
Olena holds an MA in Philology from Kyiv-Mohyla academy. In 2004, her poems appeared in a major Ukrainian journal Suchasnist (Modernity). It’s a journal that starting from 1991
establishes the benchmark of Ukrainian postmodernism. In 2005, Olena received second prize in a prestigious literary competition for young writers “Smoloskyp”, which since the 1990s had been the starting point for basically all key figures of Ukrainian literature.
Olena’s first book of poetry, Vidkrutyi Raider (Open Rider), was published in 2012 and
immediately impressed: it ranked in top 10 books of the “Ukrainian Book Arsenal Fair”, and
placed in the top 20 of the Lviv Publishers’ Forum. Deeply grounded in jazz, Olena’s poems are both dynamic and slow, visual and tonal. Their plasticity allow connection with other media. In 2014, Ukrainian artist Dasha Kuzmich created a video poem “Like Cherries” based on Olena’s text that won the first prize at the international festival of video poetry Cyclops.
Olena’s second book of poetry Superheroi (Superheroes),(designed by art-studio “Agrafky“) was published in 2016. The Ukrainian Book Arsenal fair voted it as the best illustrated book of the year. Clearly, for Olena book cover matters. It is not just a container for her texts but an integral part of her artistic project where design, structure, and texts come together in a playful way. One might think Olena’s text flirts with mass culture – Ukrainian Gotham is in need of a superhero who will stop the war. But then within the actual war and the war on words it’s a search for home and thus for meaning.
In 2017 Olena presented her poems at the international literary festival Authors’ Reading
Month. Currently she is working as an author and radio host on Ukrainian radio station
“Culture.” She also works as a coordinator of cultural programs for the Ukrainian bookstore
chain “Knyharnya Ye.”
Her poems have been translated into English, Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, and Russian.