Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aren't we all survivors?



Aren’t we all survivors? A friend’s betrayal? A father’s death? A bad breakup with a lover? Politics, philosophy, human rights can find better spokesmen than poets. There are more appropriate genres for that. Pushkin once said: “Poetry, God, forgive me, must be a little silly. I sign under this phrase with ink, not with blood.”

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Sense of loss, of alienation? Between these two evils lies a battlefield on which we are very much alike. The earlier we poets realize it, the better. As a poet I’m more interested in individual flaws.

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It’s not philosophy, but literature (not only poetry, fiction too) that provides the best language for a conversation about a modern man and modernity in general. It’s the only genre that makes room for and actually benefits from our contradictions and personal flaws.

Contradictions and personal flaws are what make us recognizable, aren’t they?

As a uniformed herd we are pretty boring, but if you pull us by the hair out of our flock and shake us, we can actually surprise. The question is: who is going to take on the task of pulling one? That’s when professional addiction comes in handy.

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I don’t care about translation. Great poetry is untranslatable, and I don’t have the recipe for making a poet globally known. I wish people had the time and means (reading poetry demands certain leisure) to read a poet that lives next door to them.

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When we are young, it’s our passions that take command of us; we follow them fearlessly and sometimes win, because passions know shortcuts. That’s been good enough for many years. Now it’s experience and lots of thinking that I want to guide me and guard me. No more haste. In poetry hastiness is inappropriate. A lyrical poem is a small thing that can travel a long way. I slow myself down; I measure and weigh it in the palm again and again. Here’s my only chance, I tell myself. I have one arrow, so it better be perfect.

-- Katia Kapovich, full text here

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