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Sergey Prilutsky (or Siroshka Pistonchik) is a Belarusian poet from Brest who has been living in Kyiv for several years. As part of the rubric “To read in emigration” we talked to Sergey about thrash prose, the role of poetry in wartime and where he gets ideas for writing poems from.

– Why did you choose poetry as a way to express yourself?

– When it comes to verse, I have more than just a rhyme present. From the very beginning I have been writing both rhymed and white poems. My first book was published back in Brest: we wrote thrash prose with a friend and self-published it, and printed 15 copies at another friend’s apartment. All the works were written in trasianka. Then the book was republished, but the publishing house didn’t even put its logo, because there were a lot of mats and the plots were very thrashy. So we made up a publishing house called “Ivy” (which didn’t really exist).

– Pistonchick – where did that pseudonym come from?

– When we decided that we needed to make a book out of our writing, there was a need for similarly moronic pseudonyms. I don’t remember what options we had, but in the end we settled on the most suitable ones – Siroshka Pistonchik and Vlasik Snotty. There’s no hidden meaning in them.

– Why some of your poems and stories are dedicated to the marginalised stratum of the population. Wasn’t there any criticism because of that?

– As far back as I can remember, I have always liked to read authors who touched upon these themes in one way or another. Therefore, the appearance of such characters in my texts is quite a natural process. They are people who are always with us. But for some reason many people think that real poetry and prose is about mom’s hands and father’s house, not about homeless people, saleswomen and talking dogs.


Here, in the garbage, lies a stranger.

He has neither a leg nor a home.

In his hand is a cheburek beaten by life,

The appearance shows a fresh hematoma.

I love this quiet and angry neighbourhood.

It’s always cool here, always fucked up.

Across the street is a cemetery and a brothel.

A little farther up is the high-end development.

Life here is like a broken old account.

Every once in a while, some miracle happens.

Here love is like a little heard scout,

who’s gradually passing his standards.

– What inspires you to write poetry?

– I wouldn’t call it inspiration, but I’ve been writing for about 10 years when I walk around the city. Such walks put me in a certain mood. Of course, something doesn’t always come out of it, but I feel comfortable writing while walking.

Sergey Prilutsky, photo from the hero’s personal archive

– Do you pay more attention to people or scenery while walking? Or is it more meditative? What exactly is it that catches your attention?

– Partly I’m not interested in what’s going on around me, because you’re walking and you’re gradually immersed in…. I don’t know how to put it exactly. Into something like a vortex, which draws you further and further into it and creates an effect of surprise. After all, I never know how the text will end. At the beginning, of course, there is an idea. But in the process it often mutates, sometimes beyond recognition.

– How do you feel about translating poems into other languages, don’t you think that their essence is lost?

– I think that if the translator is good, the main essence is not changed. Yes, there are times when a translator may lose something, because it’s a different language. But even if something is lost, it is minor, not the main points, details. Of course, we are talking about professionals, artists in their field. But there are some translations that would be better if they didn’t exist.

– What language would you like your literature to be translated into?

– Poetry is being translated a little bit at a time. But I would be interested in how Pistonchik would sound in other languages. After all, you have to look for some dialectal or slang analogs for it. I wonder, for example, how it would sound in German or French.


My mother is a decorated Terminator.

She has a medal for the destruction of European nations.

Instead of a heart, a sensitive battery.

And kilowatts of courage in her LED eyes.

My father, with a damaged microchip,

found in the ruins of a bombed-out factory.

A robot brigade stormtrooper, handsome and brave,

cleansing Africa and Antarctica of humans.

The family cursed both mum and dad.

However, after the sweep in 2037,

They were sent to the intergalactic mines.

No one ever made it back.

We recently moved from the district centre to the metropolis.

My parents work at a fancy gymnasium.

The headmaster is Adolf Kolas,

Is the author of the textbook “Genocide and Fantasy”.

Our historian, Iron Arnie,

With 200 kilowatts on his chest, likes to say:

“We spilled electrolyte in battles,

So you could live without human dictates.”

Thank you, veterans with cold hearts and balls.

Low bow for the feat and a bright tomorrow.

Peace be with you who have fallen in battle against the rebels.

Eternal glory to you, holy Terminator!

Sergey Prilutsky, photo from the hero’s personal archive

– How has 2020 affected your poetry?

– If we talk about Belarusian poetry in general, all these events have influenced many poets, both older and younger. I also wrote about 2020, although I was not in Belarus.

The last time I visited the country was in February 2020 at a literary festival. And then I just jumped into the last carriage and COVID19 started, the borders were closed. There was this epidemic, I couldn’t come to Belarus, they just wouldn’t let me in.

In 2021 I published a book “Eurydice does not look back”, which reflected my poetic reactions to all events: first to protests, then to repression.


there’s been a lot of people here

Mussolini and Hitler visited

the Pesnyars performed

Vysotsky got drunk

even Venclova was hanging around

casually composing a poem

 whole divisions of aliens 

pissed and shit under these walls

but the sun of Russian poetry

did it all far, far away

not in our place

a monument to Pushkin?

Mickiewicz is turning in his coffin

check it out

and shouting there:

kurwa! kurwa!

that’s a sure-fire move

was probably invented under coke

by some son of a bitch from the Russian embassy

in his spare time between the victory buffet

and gathering intelligence on us.

and we still haven’t decided

exactly who to punch in the face

for a monument to our own city.

and here we have this Slavic bullshit –

cultural diplomacy

with an inhuman face

the only thing that’s comforting is that here you can beat people indiscriminately

even with your eyes closed

as experience shows:

rage is beaten out with rage

we’ve had nothing to talk about for a long time

with your imperial jaw –

except to talk shit

you say it’s a mistake?

you say we need to build bridges?

you say brotherhood, spirituality?

girls, boys

give them one more time.

– Do you write texts on war, if yes, what are they about? Are they about military themes or abstract topics? Does writing poetry help to divert attention from what is happening or is there no such purpose?

– I would specify: not in the war, but during the war. After all, I am not a military man and I am on the home front. The texts that sometimes appear are, to put it briefly: about war as it is perceived by a civilian.

– During the full-scale invasion you were in Bucha. How did you endure it?

– My family and I guessed that there would be an attack on Kyiv, but I did not think that the troops would reach Bucha. I rather expected that the Russian army would launch an offensive in Donbas or attack from Crimea.

I remember that on February 24, I had a day off. At 5 a.m., a colleague called me and said: “war has started!” I replied that I was aware, it started in 2014. Then he told me to go online so I knew about the full-scale invasion. I have the Gastomel airport not far from my building. When we ran out of the house for shelter, from the stairwell we could see the airport burning and Russian helicopters flying.

– How did the war affect you as a poet and as a person?

– I have asked myself this question repeatedly over the past two years … I think I’ve become more appreciative of the moments that are happen in the here and now. Catching the moment. Material values, like money – you can lose it in one second, so it’s been relegated to some last positions. I began to value family, friends and those who are close to me more.

The first texts in which war somehow figured were in the book “The Nineties Forever”, published in 2008. Then came 2014, and in 2022 there was even more of this theme. It seems that from now on I write mostly only about war.

– How is it to be a poet during global historical events?

– It’s all individualised. I know that many people after the beginning of a full-scale war could not write for a long time. And someone, on the contrary, got a breakthrough … A friend of mine, Ukrainian writer Anatoly Dnistrovy, is writing a diary of the war: the first volume has already seen the light of day, and now the second is being prepared. For some, this is an attempt to fix the chronology, because time passes and memory erases details.


total war began here.

the airport was burning and people were on the porch

endlessly smoking cigarettes

and said – we didn’t expect this

 with the sound of aeroplanes and arrows 

they loaded their belongings and relatives into cars

the basements smelled of mould and shit 

the cab was parked at a neighbouring building 

to leave soon for the capital

the one who could call his own 

 shouting we’re f****d up, we’re f****d up

 while helicopters flew over the rooftops 

while there was still someone to shout 

 and no shells were flying over the church 

 there was still canned food and booze 

there were no looters roaming the shops

for them the war seemed like a game

an unfamiliar and generous adventure –

watching a movie as life

rapidly transforming into a nightmare –

they were the only ones who didn’t give a f**k.

a neighbour hugging her children

could barely contain her tears the sky was shaking

from the nearest open window 

the aromas of a forgotten breakfast 

 just a little while longer, no one knew and that was it 

 the trap will be locked and all hell will break loose 

 no one thinks of death 

 but they can already feel its breath 

 the streets in the neighbourhood are empty and drunken

 the pensioner watches mesmerised 

 from his balcony as his vision blazes.

and the last cigarette butt flies down.

Photo from the hero’s personal archive

– What role do you see for poetry during the war and the events of 2020?

– I think that in peacetime it doesn’t have much influence, and even less in wartime. It’s all about how much stronger and smarter your army is than the enemy’s. Perhaps the best thing that people involved in culture can do is to draw the world’s attention to what is happening in the country, to bring out the truth. Because Russian propaganda gives out a lot of wild stuff. It seems to me that the main task of culture is to bring the truth. Through performances, participation, conferences, festivals, to make people’s voices heard.

– For you, is poetry more about the imaginary or the real?

– For me, it is important for poetry to have a connection with reality, with what is happening around me. I reflex over social, political phenomena, and then they are born in some serious or thrash form, with irony, sarcasm. But I think that I always had real themes, even when I wrote about mutants and robots, it was still superimposed on reality. Through these images, I’ve always shown my view of the world around me. Fiction wasn’t the goal, it was a tool to convey something. I don’t believe in the phrase “art for art’s sake” and I don’t see the point of it.

– What emotions do you put into the text?

– Everything I wanted to convey and say is in the text itself. Publishing a book is an attempt to share with people what you experience. Every text is what you see, you try to take a picture of reality, to fix it. Then we’ll see after a while how much it is a substantial text, or not a substantial text, it’s hard for me to talk about it.

– What would you like people to remember from the events that are happening now in our reality?

– If we talk about Belarus, I would like all those responsible for suppressing the protests and surrendering the country to Russia to be punished. The current experience should be fixed by any means, because this is a very important aspect of memory, as I have already ordered, memory fades with time. In 3-4 years after the events, you yourself can think and fantasise what was not there, thus changing the reality.

If we talk about Ukraine, the main thing now is to win. And I would like the whole world to understand and remember that Russia cannot be trusted.

– What literary plans?

– I have never planned any special literary plans. The only thing I can say is that this year will be published a book of poems “Gibroids”, which “hung” for several years and could not find a publisher.


this brick body is now missing puzzles.

 you don’t remember what happened 

instead of people, flocks of pigeons have returned

living slowly, dying slowly

 in the closets of broken children’s rooms 

nesting in silence

here, death has passed through

here it’s stuck between the concrete ribs

they say

 there’s a surgical special operation

a surgical special operation Russian roulette

and in the next room there’s Belarusian roulette

there’s no guarantee of survival

do you hear the doors of reality vibrating?

how the hairs of the trees move with terror?

close your eyes for a second

stop your heart – let it cool down

 you don’t have to pray 

 we used to live without roofs, now we live without walls

 are as transparent as window panes 

 merged with nature 

 at its worst 

russo turisto

 under your illusory house 

talk inspirational:

to kill or not to kill

to kill or not to kill 

give me a bouquet

if we live to see another summer.