Volha Hapeyeva

- Belarus -

Volha Hapeyeva (Вольга Гапеева) is an award-winning Belarusian poet. Her works have been translated into more than 10 languages. She has had poems published in the USA, Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, Georgia, Lithuania, and other countries. She writes poetry, prose and drama, as well as occasional books for children. Volha Hapeyeva has published a number of books to date, and has participated in numerous literary festivals and conferences, and international residency scholarships in Austria (a.o. City Writer of Graz 2019/2020), Germany (a.o. Villa Waldberta 2020; LCB 2018, 2009), Latvia, Switzerland, etc. She collaborates with electronic musicians and visual artists to create audio-visual performances. A member of the Belarusian PEN Centre and the Independent Belarusian Writers’ Union, Volha also translates poetry (from English, German, Chinese and Japanese). She holds a PhD in linguistics; her research is in the fields of comparative linguistics, philosophy of language, sociology of the body, and gender issues in culture and literature.

Hapeyeva belongs to the leading voices of contemporary Belarusian poetry. Her main topics are loneliness, war, violence, the female body, self analysis and nature. As the German poet Matthias Göritz stresses, Hapeyeva is strongly aware of the richdom of the Belarusian language, which she mobilises strongly in her work. »By reading the poems of Volha Hapeyeva, one can get an impression as if she would be working on a great dictionary of loneliness. She spells the desire for closeness, the great feelings of hope in this closeness... Her poetry is filled with bodily metaphors that prove how important the language as body and the body as language are to her.«

For Hapeyeva, poetry is a means to extend and spread empathy and self-cultivation. Poems are intended for growth, they teach us to coexist in a community in peace. But this does not exclude the topics of violence and hate; the poetess delves into these topics also by questioning the discourses instilled by patriarchy and in trying to achieve visibility for herself and other female artists.

Hapeyeva is attentive to detail, Göritz writes. Her poetry is all about the »small and the concrete« and her precision, paradoxically, elevates these small occurences and phenomena into extraordinary life events.