Serhiy Zhadan, one of Ukraine’s most internationally acclaimed writers, has joined the Ukrainian National Guard.

“I’ve Joined the ranks of the 13th brigade of National Guard of Ukraine ‘Khartia’ [Charter]. I am in training. Serving the Ukrainian people,” he wrote on his official Facebook page.

Serhiy Zhadan and his disassembled rifle.

The author of numerous novels and collections of poetry, Zhadan has been translated into more than a dozen languages. In English, a selection of poems “How Fire Descends,” translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps, was shortlisted for the PEN America Literary Award for Poetry in Translation. His most recent novel, “The Orphanage,” translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes, is set in the gray zone between forces during the Donbas War of 2014-15.


The 49-year-old Zhadan is especially popular among the younger generations as the frontman for the ska-influenced punk band Zhadan i Sobaky (Zhadan and the Dogs).

For the first two years of the war, Zhadan traveled and performed tirelessly to raise funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Originally from Starobilsk, in what is now the occupied Luhansk region, Zhadan is closely associate with Kharkiv, where he studied and taught literature at the university there.

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When Kharkiv came under renewed pressure this spring, Zhadan decided to raise his level of participation from raising funds for vehicles and equipment to taking up arms with the National Guard.

In May, Zhadan held a large poetry reading in the Kyiv Sports Palace, presenting his “Collected Poems,” 1,400 pages covering verse from 1993 to 2023. According to the organizers, about 4,000 people came to the event.

The poet said that all funds from the concert would be given to the AFU, in particular to the “Khartia” Brigade.


Zhadan is by no means the first Ukrainian writer to join the AFU: Artem Chapeye, Artem Chekh and Oleh Sentsov are just three others who have had some notoriety outside of Ukraine. Many more artists are still plying their craft in the trenches or while recovering from wounds.

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