24 FOR 24

Day 12

“Our leaders for a long time were not kings or queens, but poets.”

Sustained by art and activism, Serhiy Zhadan is no stranger to circumstances that call him to action in defense of his city, his country and his heritage.

He grew up in Ukraine speaking a language at home that was neither completely Ukrainian nor Russian but Surzhyk—a mixture of the two. “I’ve loved language since the moment I started reading,” he says. “I  always wrote different stories and poetry.”

While Zhadan’s prose over the years has received international acclaim, the recent war has stifled his pen, but not his voice or his resolve. “I can’t write poetry or prose right now,” Zhadan says during an interview. “I go to the music studio, and together with the band we get some songs out. It’s therapy. Then we go out and perform for our people.”

Today’s #24for24 honors the words, melodies and actions of Serhiy Zhadan, the rock star poet continuing his decades-long fight for the Ukrainian culture he knows and loves.