2023 COURAGE to WRITE Writer of Note Awardee Feature of the Week:
Alona Kharina, No One is Home (Essays), Sumy, UKRAINE
No One is Home is about loss of home and looking for a new one, memory as a mental disorder, identity in the ancestral, cosmic, and physical aspects.
“I want every person to remember their roots: who are you at home, and who are you in a foreign country?”
“I am actively working on this project. And I am very grateful to the members of the foundation for this award, and the chance to meet professionals in the area of literature from around the world. I found each of the winners through a Google search and am very inspired by the quality and depth of their writing. I still have a lot of work to do to make my writing closer to theirs, but I am very happy to have this chance to express myself through literature.
I work actively on this writing right now because I am still in Ukraine and live in a conflict zone. It is very important to stay here while I am writing because it helps to express the witnessed experience on the ground and reflect a lot through observing destroyed places. I noticed that these essays narrativized my fragments of memory, which are directly related to the desire to preserve national identity. The trauma of losing a home and running away from home is often not lived fully, so I want this writing to be a form of psychotherapy for people facing forced immigration.
Currently, I am communicating with people who have lost everything they had and am recording this experience, that is, part of the texts will be about the conditions of survival and transformation of those who survived. Additionally, I have already written a text about how a wounded psyche looks for points of well-being in society through language and culture in order to find a place of protection for themselves and their children. I believe that these testimonies have the potential to explore the theme of home.
This is a fragment from my essay ‘Within a Hair’s Breadth of Death’ which is about death: «Now I am standing near the shelter and looking at the snow-covered trees. I look at the ground, which is so red after those who did not survive, and think how many ‘hairs’ are around. Someone notices sadness in these trees. I see a tree like ‘a hair from death’ which helps you to survive. When you are touched by the trees, the rivers inside you are frozen. I like to perceive death as a measure of the living, as a song of a new soul. The body can fall asleep, and the soul can wake up, as an inner view of the beauty of the world that does not allow remaining. The trees wake you up and help to remember where you came from, and all the time you have spent in oblivion is lifeless time, and when you grab a hair, something appears to melt you and bring you to life. Death always wants to take more than you are willing to give….»”