Being a poet and a woman on the frontline - with Yaryna Chornohuz

August 3, 2023

Yaryna Chornohuz is a Ukrainian poet, who became a soldier to defend her homeland. She is a paramedic and a reconnaissance scout who went to the frontline before Russia's full-scale invasion.

Before her military experience, she was an activist organizing protests in support of the Ukrainian language and culture, and against capitulation to Russia. While on the frontline, she wrote two books of poetry, which had substantial resonance in Ukraine. Her profound poetry touches upon the topics of life and death, connection with those who are no longer alive, connection to the land, and Ukraine's war experience today.

Host: Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher and journalist, and chief editor of

Here are some key thoughts from Yaryna Chornohuz:

  • If you want to witness real life, you must be on the frontline. You have to be there for some time and see what there is and how our soldiers and civilians give their lives for Ukraine.
  • I love difficulties. Sometimes the army was physically difficult, but I don't remember when I said, "ok, that's enough for me, and I won't do that." When you're the only female in a combat position at the reconnaissance unit, you have no choice but to be strong and do even more than you can because all men are watching you. They can forgive some weaknesses of each other, but they never forgive the weakness of a female soldier.
  • Right now, there is a new generation of commanders who respect women that want to be soldiers, and when you are lucky to be with such a commander, you can do almost anything on the battlefield. If you prove that you are quite strong and can work without causing difficulties for your unit.
  • Poetry is my way of expressing the truth and ideas you discover on the frontline. I always write poetry in a condition of pain. I'm not writing when I'm happy.
  • I think right now we will remember our soldiers much better than it was in 2014. We will dedicate more time to our memory. But many of them passed away, and we should talk and remember them immediately, not when the Victory comes.
  • When you're engaged in the war, you change the understanding of the valuability of being young. You understand how good it is to be an older person living in his own house and dying naturally. It's a privilege of our generation.
  • My daughter gives me strength. When I think about her, I understand that I have to survive. My family and my husband, who is also a soldier, make me stronger.

Thinking in Dark Times is a podcast series by UkraineWorld. This series seeks to make Ukraine and the current Russian war against Ukraine a focal point of our joint reflection on the world's present, past, and future. We try to see the light through and despite the current darkness.

UkraineWorld ( is brought to you by Internews Ukraine, one of the largest Ukrainian media NGOs.

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