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Olena Zheleznyak

Current location

Warsaw, Poland

Professional field

Literature, poetry, journalism, copywriting

The story behind

Olena is a writer and journalist working with children based in Ukraine. When the war started in Ukraine, she had to leave for Poland together with her husband and two daughters in struggle to find a place to stay.

Olena Zheleznyak

Through their eyes

“When I was leaving Ukraine at the beginning of March 2022, my mother told me at the door: “Take at least a few of your books.” But where? – I thought. In her arms are two children – one is 3 years old, the other is 5 months old, as well as a suitcase and bags. And maybe they could be stuffed into a pocket somewhere. But at that moment I was in such a state because of the war that all my books, all my creative activities seemed so impossible, meaningless, they all lost their meaning to me. So to bring my creative essence back to life in such a situation was the biggest challenge, which at that time I had not yet realised. In search of help, I turned everywhere, and filled out dozens of forms, usually without answers. However, representatives of the Ukrainian Support Program promptly responded, conducted an interview, and provided advice and support in finding accommodation specifically for the representatives of the creative profession. And already at this stage, I felt that my creative activity is needed and that it matters to other people who are ready to support me on this path. To be honest, I didn’t really believe that I would be given a scholarship. And I was infinitely grateful for the institutional assistance that was given to me. However, due to the lack of permanent housing and frequent moves, I could not regularly conduct classes with children. And in order to rent an apartment in Poland, it is necessary to provide the owners with a deposit in the amount of one month’s rent for the apartment. Unfortunately, we did not have such an amount, so the opportunity to rent an apartment was very illusory. Now, thanks to the Program, I am able to pay for housing and a deposit. And I am resuming regular literary classes for Ukrainian children in our country and abroad. Unfortunately, I have to put another creative project – the creation of a series of stories about outstanding figures of Polish culture and art from Ukraine – on hold for the time being, since I was not given a residence for its implementation, so now I am looking for other opportunities to pay for housing for my family. As soon as this issue is resolved, I plan to publish my next book. Most likely, these will be historical stories about outstanding figures of Polish culture and art from Ukraine. So, thanks to the support of the European Creative Hubs Network, I regained faith in myself, my creative potential and the ability to provide for my needs through creative realisation. I am currently working on the development of these ways.”

Olena Zheleznyak
Book publication by Olena Zheleznyak

More about Olena Zheleznyak

Creative experience

2021 creation of a series of adventure stories to continue the “Mediachallenge” project at the request of the participants (the implementation was postponed due to the war).

2018 a series of local history adventure stories for children about Cherkasy is published as a separate book called “Secrets of the Cossack City”.

2018 publication of the collection of poetry and prose “Svitlopishu”.

2017 preparation and implementation of the project “Media Challenge “Treasures of the Cossack City”, within the framework of which a series of artistic adventure stories for children about the history of the city of Cherkasy was written and published in the Internet media. The texts contained tasks and hints that helped the participants of the media challenge to find the real treasure.

2013 laureate of the All-Ukrainian Literary Prize named after Vasyl Symonenko in the nomination “For the best first poetry collection” (“Looking for keys to the world”).

Since 2013 a member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine; From 2013 to the present day, he is the head of the “Pegasyk” literary circle of the Cherkasy Regional Children’s Library.

2012 publication of the debut collection of poems “Looking for keys to the world”.

2009 participant of the All-Ukrainian meeting of young writers in Irpen.

2006-2016 member of Cherkasy Regional Literary Association named after Vasyl Simonenko.

2002-2006 participant of the literary studio “Versions” of the Cherkasy National University under the guidance of the writer Valentina Kovalenko.

A permanent participant of the literary tent camp “Kalavurnya”, the “Literary Bridge-Cherkasy” project, the Cherkasy Book Festival. Organiser and participant of many Literature and educational projects.

Titles and regalia

Laureate of the All-Ukrainian Literary Prize named after Vasyl Symonenko in the nomination “For the best first poetry collection” (“Looking for keys to the world”) (2013).

Member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine (since 2013).

Secretary of the competition commission of the All-Ukrainian Literary Prize named after Vasyl Simonenko (since 2018).

Ukrainian Artists & Creatives Support Program

As the Ukrainian crisis is upon us and a large number of CCIs have already been affected by it, there is a constant need to support displaced Ukrainian creatives looking to resume their professional activities in new conditions. During the Program implementation Ukrainian CCS professionals received assistance in finding new jobs, accommodation possibilities, art residencies and were hosted in the creative hubs of ECHN around Europe, blending into local creative communities, aiming at their integration. 27 of the applicants were provided with a grant of 1.000€ in order to contribute to their resilience and help them resettle in a new environment. Beneficiaries of the Program shared their stories, describing professional successes and challenges and how this project has helped them get back on their feet.

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