About

Andy Szpuk 31 BW

Writer and poet based in Nottinghamshire, UK.
Awards:
2014 – Joint Runner Up in Nottingham Festival of Words Flash Fiction Competition
Performance History:
As a spoken word poet, I have performed locally and further afield, and as a long-standing member of Nottingham’s DIY POETS.
In 2016, I developed a selection of my poetry into a performance piece, AUSTERITY CAFE, and have recently developed a collection called IF SPIDER-MAN WERE UKRAINIAN, all about growing up in a Ukrainian household in Britain.
Performance Pieces:
AUSTERITY CAFÉ – An experimental fusion of political satire, fractured melodies and homegrown verse, serving up bite-sized chunks of the UK sociopolitical pie, where I am accompanied by Paul Quadros on electric guitar.
The project debuted in 2016 and ran for 2 years, including a slot at Nottingham Poetry Festival 2018. A recording is in the pipeline.
IF SPIDER-MAN WERE UKRAINIAN – A gently humorous mix of narrative and poetry, recounting a Ukrainian family’s journey through 20th century history, from the sixties and seventies onwards, alongside the shadows of the past. With amusing anecdotes, and observations on family life, history, politics, fashion and cabbage . . .
The project debuted in 2017, and is in further development, with a poetry pamphlet planned for publication.
My Literary Journey:
SLIDING ON THE SNOW STONE is based on the true story of my father, from his childhood in Ukraine, the ravages of the Soviet induced famine (1932-33), Soviet repression in the years leading up to World War Two, and events during, and after, the war.
Writing the book was a profound experience and afterwards I found myself writing a good deal of poetry to find closure. Many of my poems found their way into anthologies and poetry magazines.
In between writing and performing poetry, I wrote FATE AND CIRCUMSTANCE, based on my mother’s true story, a tale of her family’s forced eviction from their Ukrainian Lemko home in the Carpathian Mountains, and of a family member’s heroic act during the brutality of the Nazi Holocaust.
I am currently working on BLACK RAVEN, a novel about an act of genocide by the Soviet state in my father’s home town of Vinnitsya, during the war years, exploring the motives of the men who carried out those executions.
My performance piece titled IF SPIDER-MAN WERE UKRAINIAN complements my written work well, and gives me a platform to promote my works.
I also perform POETRY AIRLINES – poems printed on sheets of A4, then folded into aeroplanes and thrown into an audience, and am available to facilitate this as a project.

212 thoughts on “About

  1. Aanchal Anand says:

    Hi Andy – read chapter 1 of your Holodmor story on youwriteon and WOW! I can’t wait to get the whole book. I am also working on a historical fiction piece set in Soviet Russia so I particularly liked your opening chapter. Very close to my own research interests and also very inspirational. Can you tell me when it gets out?

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Hello Aanchal,
      Thanks for the positive feedback. I’m hoping ‘Sliding on the Snow Stone’ will get published this year, but don’t want to say too much until I have some definite news.
      What is your historical fiction piece?

  2. Aanchal Anand says:

    Looking forward to the book, Andy.

    My book’s a historical-fiction political drama set in the Soviet Union from 1914 to 1991. Lots of backs and forths but mainly covers 1927, 1939, the war in Stalingrad and finally the late eighties. Still lots more to write. Let’s hope I get it done soon enough.

  3. Perry says:

    Hi Andy.
    Very intrigued by your upcoming novel, the snow stone. Hope it sells well, as you’ll never make a living as a photographer 😉

  4. Claire Whatley says:

    Hi Andy, I’m looking forward to publication of this, and having my own copy! It deserves to do well. Good luck.

    And I like your photography…

  5. dave tebbs says:

    Hi Andy
    Great work here, I was sent your way by Alex from LTLF, he name checked us both in his recent piece, love the opening to your snow piece, would like to read it all, I’m also interested in getting hold of your rock n roll twitter collection. Keep it up !

  6. Johanna says:

    Hi Andy! Just finished Sliding On The Snow Stone on my Kobo. Thank you so much for writing it! It needs to be read by many–especially by those too young to remember the scourge of Communism and Nazism. Your book meant a lot to me because I am of Ukrainian descent, third generation,and though most of my relatives are over here (Canada mostly) I kept thinking as I read that some of my kin were a part of that story. I was also jolted when I heard that one of Stefan’s (Your Dad?) best friends was named Fedor. Fedor is my maiden name, and just to make it interesting, my Mom
    was a Fedorowich, got married and cut her name in half! There are some mysteries swirling around my grandfather, Fedor (who came to this country early, 1904, before Stalin), as you can read, briefly, in my spiritual suspense memoir Graffiti On My Soul (Amazon). I think you may be interested…

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Hello Johanna,
      Thanks for the feedback, I’m so glad you enjoyed Sliding on the Snow Stone. Fedor was his Christian name – his surname was Dubay (don’t know if that’s the correct spelling).
      It’s great to be reaching out to a global audience in Canada and the US, where there are so many Ukrainians. I believe I may have some relatives in the US, and have made contact, via Facebook with a Szpuk in the US. Sadly he doesn’t have any in-depth knowledge of his family history so I’m unable to look any deeper. I do think it’s a wonderful thing that the younger generation are showing so much interest in this story.
      I’ll certainly be taking a look at Graffiti On My Soul as soon as I can.

  7. Johanna says:

    A joy to hear back from you this morning! We are truly an international community!
    I don’t know how common Fedor is as a first name, but I do know that it harks back to the time when people went by only one name (followed by “son of…” as in Fedorowich. Fedor I and II were tsars of Russia, and the origin of the name is Theodore, meaning gift of God, the first Theodore being St. Theodore, a Roman legionary who died a martyr early in the fourth century. If your Dad’s friend Fedor is still alive perhaps he doesn’t know his illustrious roots!
    Perhaps we can write reviews for each other’s books….

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Hello Johanna!
      Alas, Fedor is no longer with us. I hadn’t considered the significance of his name or its spelling. Perhaps I’ll ask my mum about it when I next see her. It’s quite possible Fedor himself would have known about the roots of his name, Ukrainians are generally very devout Christians and have a good knowledge of their history. The religious aspect was something I tried to put across in Sliding on the Snow Stone.
      I’d love to get a review from you, and once I’ve received Graffiti On My Soul, I’ll be more than happy to review it, it sounds really interesting.
      Happy New Year!

      • Andy Szpuk says:

        Thanks so much, Johanna. It’s a wonderful review, with so many brilliant observations. I particularly appreciated your comments on the ‘mysterious Peter’ chapter. I should be receiving Graffiti on My Soul’ soon, and am looking forward to it.

      • Johanna says:

        Happy you liked it, Andy! I have ordered a print copy of Sliding on the Snow Stone for my daughter’s upcoming birthday, and will be passing the word about your book to my (Ukrainian) relatives. Blessings! Johanna

      • Andy Szpuk says:

        It’s a fine analysis, and thanks for the wonderful support. I hope your daughter appreciates the book, and also thanks for spreading the word. If you’re on Facebook or twitter, look me up – it would be great to keep in touch.
        Andy

  8. California Kid says:

    Hi Andy, and thanks for visiting my blog today and clicking on the “Like” button to my most recent post. I hope to hear from you again soon. Wishing you the best of success in your book publishing. Cheers!

  9. mac says:

    You, my dear sir, are an inspiration to all writers out there. Especially me- one day I’d hope to get published. It sort of restores the little faith I have that one day my writing will be on Amazon, like yours. But this isn’t about me- your blog is fantastic and when I get around to reading your novel I’m sure it’ll be fantastic as well. Keep up the tremendous work.

  10. onecoolsoul says:

    I bought both Sliding on the Snow Stone and The History of Rock and Roll in 99 tweets. Regarding the latter Harry had one hell of a life now didn’t he? Not that lucky with the women. On the former the image of little Stefan about ready to toss that stone at the soldiers is clearly etched into my mind. Very good work Andy!

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Thanks, Alexia. It’s a long story. And not so exciting to tell. Maybe that would be a good challenge – to find a way of telling that story that would be dramatic. Thanks for the idea.

  11. Dana Smith says:

    Sliding on a Snow Stone… I just like the way that sounds. I see a lot of work here. Good for you. Hard work makes for great reads… Very best to you in your journey Dana Smith

  12. Andy Szpuk says:

    The Road to Repentance was a rolling here-and-now affirmation of the self and of faith. It was really inspiring.
    You can read a preview of Sliding on the Snow Stone right here, on the book’s page – there is a document attached containing chapter one, or Amazon have a preview read.

  13. lemaniaindigo says:

    Thanks for the like on my post – My Hand Has… 🙂 Your book sounds really interesting and I will have to order a copy from Amazon. I agree with you – even though I have a Kindle, I prefer a book in my hands and nothing draws me in more than a library or an old book store. I get lost for days. Look forward with interest to the read.

  14. fabiangila says:

    this is awesome, one !like! from a real writer at my blog; i’m glad you liked it; actualy, i’m writing two books, i’m not a profesional writer. however, i would like it my books would be published someday; thank’s for visiting my blog… and remember, any advise or comment will be allways wellcome.

  15. idiolalia says:

    Thank you for liking my post! I actually was just in the middle of finishing it ;p If you’d like you can check out the last half — haha.
    Images are incredible, I totally agree. I’m only just learning how to stitch together all the media and art forms that I want to weave with. Hmm.

    Thanks again ~
    Kate

  16. Casey B says:

    Thank you for liking my post Grief Poetry. I appreciate your taking the time to read it. I shall look into your work further.

    Best wishes,

    Casey

  17. Jamie Dedes says:

    What you say is so absolutely true. Loss of intimacy in relationships is a downside of cyberspace, but the ability to reach out and link to folks around the world – find writers who are new to us! – is an amazing upside.

    “Words” are nothing short of miracle, dragging poems and stories along with them. Look forward to reading some of yours.

    Nice to “meet” you…
    Jamie Dedes

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Nice to meet you too, Jamie. And you’re right – too much time is spent in cyberspace. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating voyage, with doors opening into some real treasure boxes, and inpiration all around us.

  18. New View From Here says:

    “Words can make grown men cry, or paint a smile on the face of a child. Words become sentences to carry ideas along the roads of knowledge.”

    much truth spoken there! congrats on being a published author…really cool to have you visit my blog …

  19. kmabarrett says:

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for “like”-ing one of my posts. Words frequently make me cry and I too am one of those dinosaurs who enjoys the smell and touch of a good book (and even some not so good books). I have a reader, too, but it is not the same.
    Keep up the good work!

  20. Shakespeare "The Equine" says:

    Thank you for visiting “Poet’s Paddock” and liking my post “Horse Couture.” … Two of my favourite things are eating and words — though I hope I never have to eat my words, I look forward to indulging in a few of yours … 😉 See you anon in Poet’s Paddock! Shakespeare “The Equine”

  21. gigoid says:

    Andy…. saw you stopped in to read and Liked one of my posts… thanks! I make a habit of checking the sites of those who read my work, and this looks like just my cup of tea, word junkie that I have been for the last 50+ years… I hate to be unoriginal without attribution, hence quotation marks, “I’ll be back”…… 🙂 See you in the Lab, or around the comments….Take care, & Blessed Be….

  22. dorothymcdonall says:

    Hi Andy! Thank you for visiting my blog “Musings of a Horse Mom” and liking my post “Ham Horse Gallery … Dissecting the Shakespearean Roll.” It means a lot that a writer such as yourself would take some time out of the word lab to offer input on my own word experiments. 🙂 … As well, congratulations on your recent publishing success. Connecting with someone who’s “done it” fuels my own aspirations. … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

  23. stephenedwards425 says:

    Hi Andy, Thanks for taking the time to like one of my posts. I am always appreciative when someone gives of their time.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to read your book yet, but I’m ordering it next.

    Thanks again and be encouraged!

  24. CattyKate says:

    Hi Andy, I started writing in earnest fairly recently, and it is only now that I am actually writing myself that I am able to fully feel a part of the stories I read. When I write, I put myself in the place of my characters and I find that it has helped me to be write with more feeling. I just wanna say, I love the way you express “writing” at the top of this page. It is really true.

  25. Aj b33m3R says:

    When a more rounded and experienced author stops by your site and throws you a ‘like,’ well, let’s just say I’ve been walking an air all day today. Thank you, Andy.

  26. emariaenterprises says:

    Thank you for dropping by my Music of Poetry blog and “liking” one of my latest. I recently split a blog, and am in the process ot republishing some from emariaenterprises to blogs that are more specific…. sigh… Still, I may start putting some chapters from my new (first) book in a blog…
    Would that be a good idea or a bad idea? I have 7 written so far, and several more in my head just waiting for time to get them in print.

  27. theobscurepoet says:

    stopped by to check out your blog and say thanks for the like, and as you said above the connectivity of the readers and writers, it is an amazing time. and we all write because of the greats of the past too.

  28. kposh says:

    Hi Andy!
    thanks for the ‘like’! I was so excited to see someone other than friends read a post! 🙂 I can’t wait to read ‘sliding on the snow stone’, it looks like something right up my alley. A dream of mine, since college, was to write a book, maybe one day you’ll read mine!

  29. Rhonda says:

    Andy,
    Thank you for stopping by and liking my latest post. More importantly, it brought me to your blog. I just ordered your book “Sliding on the Snow Stone” from Amazon because your introduction speaks to me on the deepest level. I can’t wait to read it and look forward to following you. Thanks for opening a new portal for me.
    Rhonda

  30. skipmars says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog, reading The Roller Coaster, and liking it. You’ve quite a resume of written work. At 62, I feel like I’ve only just begun, paraphrasing the song. I’ll come back and visit and taste a few of your selections.

  31. Rhonda says:

    Hey Andy, I’m glad you stopped by and thanks for liking my little shower scene. I’ve been thinking of you…I’m 1/2 way through your book and I LOVE IT. So easy to read. Just wanted to let you know! 🙂
    Rhonda

  32. Kim says:

    Hi from the sunny Bahamas Andy. Thanks for liking my Mother’s Day post and congratulations in the publication of your book. All the best with your writing. I will stop by and visit your blog from time to time. Shalom!…Kim

  33. Finally... Wendy Wanders says:

    Hello, Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking a recent post. It’s quite an honor to receive a “like” from an established author! I look forward to reading your work. Best wishes for continued success.

  34. You Were Born To Succeed says:

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and liking a post. It’s fun to see who else is out there. I’m following your blog and looking forward to reading more.

    Nancy

  35. darcydowning says:

    Thank you for stopping by- as a first time author, I find your blog to be very encouraging. Thank you. I am going to have to take a read and check out this new book of yours.

  36. tsena says:

    your work is intriguing. i am glad you found my blog so i could be led to your work. i will be letting my curiousity roam. nice work!

  37. ingoodfaith says:

    I am ordering your book with Amazon. I was only talking to my 16 year old earlier about political psycopaths and political cruelties in history. Keep writing- keep telling your/their story…

  38. mstrongspaid says:

    Thanks for reading my blog, Andy. I am new to this world. Your book “Sliding on the Snow Stone” looks very interesting. The title also captures the imagination. There is a man across the street from me who is 93 years old….he was in the U.S. Army during WWII. It would be interesting to write his stories down, but he keeps saying that he didn’t really do anything that important (in spite of all his medals).
    But the past is important and soon it will be lost forever if it is not written down. We need to remember, before we forget.

  39. kolembo says:

    hey there, what an interesting blog!
    I think I may have read you somewhere before – did you write a short story on going out to dinner on a blind date (or one just hurridly arranged!) that goes awfully wrong?
    Anyway, great blog.
    I wonder if you’d be interested in sending us some stuff to look at for a new site?
    It can be any kind of writing as long as it’s a short (about a page) piece?
    I’ll just direct you to the site and you can have a think!

    http://tenofthebestshortpoetry.wordpress.com/

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Hi kolembo,
      I don’t remember writing a short story about a blind date, but have a bit of a back catalogue so it could be something along similar lines.
      Your site looks like it has real potential. I’ll get something together if I can and submit.

  40. homebadger says:

    Hi Andy! Thank you so much for ‘liking’ my blog entry! I agree, words are magic. And the ability we have now to share our hearts through words to so many people – who knew that technology could be fun? I am going to follow up on your book… but I just got up and need my coffee first! Please stop by again!

  41. Alexander Atkins says:

    Thanks for reading Bookshelf. You might enjoy a related post: The World’s Most Expensive Book: $23.9 Million. Enjoyed reading some of your posts. You are an inspiration to many writers: keep up the good work. 🙂

  42. pennycoho says:

    I’m intrigued and interested in knowing more about you. Am going to kindle your book. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing, this is a very nice blog site.

  43. LouLou says:

    thanks for stopping by liliespen. I’m dipping into the idea of adapting hundreds of my columns into a collection of short stories, so your site is very helpful. thanks, LL e

  44. Anna Scott Graham says:

    Lovely book cover! I’m giving Sliding on the Snow Stone a go, but I’m rather a squeamish sort, so if I don’t finish it, that’s why.

    Thanks for stopping at my blog and best wishes with the writing!

  45. Pat Cegan says:

    Just downloaded the Kindle edition of your book. Wonderful that I can get books in English in Brazil where I live now. I look forward to reading it as this part of our history has always held a strong bond to me. Thanks for the retweet for it helped me find you. hugs, pat

  46. rahobbs says:

    Hi Andy!
    I just finished Sliding on the Snow Stone and loved it. I read a lot and it is definitely in my top five books I’ve read in 2012. It kept me up at night and I found myself reading it whenever I could, whether waiting at the bus stop or in line at the grocery store. I don’t cry often when it comes to books, but I was blubbering like a baby when I finally turned off the kindle. It’s a book I’m going to pass on to my nine year old son and daughter when she gets old enough, because I want them to know why our freedom is so precious.
    Thank you for writing this story,
    R.A. Hobbs

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  49. Earl Elster says:

    First, I would like to thank Andy and Stefan for bringing this story to life in such a complete and well written way, it would have been a shame if Stefan would have passed on and not told all of us his story. With regard to my rating, I would have given it ten stars if that rating were available. Second, I think the book publishing industry has lost its capacity to make judgements about books. The fact that this book was not published by a major publisher and instead has to be virtually self published and sold at a low cost is an indictment of the publishing industry.

    This book is a real eye opener to those of us in the west who have never personally experienced the evils of war and the battle between Nazism and Soviet communism. It is unfortunate that this story has only recently been told, to me it is as significant as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago”. It would have been helpful to all of us if it would have been published during the sixties or seventies as Solzhenitsyn’s book was as it would have revealed the depths of the evils of the Stalinist and Soviet systems.

    I will not attempt to recap the Stefan’s journey, you will have to read it for yourself. For not being a professional writer, Andy has really done a great and poetic job of explaining the wonderful and the horrendous moments of the journey. I agree with a couple of other reviews that said it would have been interesting to know about what happened to his brother and mother during and after World War II. How did they both manage to survive the war and what happened to them during all of those Soviet years. All the relatives still live in the Ukraine and this would be a great story for a Kindle epilogue or perhaps a second book. In any case, congratulations to Stefan for having survived and returned to his homeland after his journey through hell and congratulations to Andy for doing such a great job of communicating it to all of us.

    • Andy Szpuk says:

      Earl, many thanks for so many kind words. And yes, there are more avenues to explore in all this. The stories of Stefan’s mother and brother are more difficult to construct because they are no longer around to provide details – but it would be a good basis for a fact-based drama, one I have considered, and may come back to. I’m currently working on ‘Fate and Circumstance’ which is centred around the forced expulsion of the Lemkos from their home in the Carpathian Mountains, just after World War Two – to break the support they gave to Ukrainian Partisans who were still active. It’s another little documented piece of history, and an education when working on it.
      Andy

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