INTERVIEW with Nikola Madzirov: In a country where there is too much sun, we lack light among the people!
How are you Nikola? When was the last time you heard this question? I start the conversation with our world-class poet, Nikola Madzirov.
- We forgot about those questions that illuminate our ordinary day, because they remained wrapped in the shiny packaging of formality. How are you as a confirmation of presence, opposite Where are you, which we set more and more often. It feels like a man in a country where we are buried with our heads turned to the east, and our whole life is spent in the urge to escape to the west. We live intensively the geography of the body and the mind, and the question how are you he cannot draw the boundaries in the atlas of belonging, and in fact that is his power. How are you? A question that has its own depth wherever you are.
I find you in Italy? What are you doing there? What are you writing??
- Poetry is the answer when there is no question. But when there are too many answers, it becomes an essential question. As Bei Dao says, writing poetry is planting seeds in an open wound. Every author tries to escape the shadow of his own words, because he can hardly hide from the voice of the inherited stories that other witnesses have. Writing is Witnessing Without Witnesses чење Witnessing in solitude. I repeat Pessoa's verses: "To be a poet - it is not my ambition, it is my way of being lonely." Between the finished poem and the publication there is a time that belongs neither to the author nor to the reader, like the overgrown grass in the space between two states boundaries. In that immeasurable time is born the poet's respect for the reader and the fear of himself - responsibility before the historical time and all other published books. Simone Vail says that every living soul in crying silently begs to be read in a different way. Italy offered me the silence I missed, especially in the moments when I lost my mother, in the period when we got closer and started talking about the first words spoken.
What is the modern "current" of Italian writers?? Macedonian audiences, with the exception of those who follow literature, know Umberto Eco. What is the new Eco, or echo of Italian literature in the world, in your opinion??
- The memories of Eco are felt in every medieval town in Umbria and Tuscany. The walls painted by Giotto or Piero della Francesca live in Pasolini's poetry and in the stories of souvenir sellers who add a new fictional detail every day. Italian and world literature has Claudio Magris, a friend of Eco, who turned Trieste into a museum of new memories, and the Danube into a moving archaeological site of different voices and cultures. I often traveled to the medieval town of Urbino, which Calvino describes in Invisible Cities as a palace that, instead of rising between the city walls, contained a city between its own walls. Besides Calvino, I discovered the world through the worlds of Bucati, Pasolini, Pirandello, Tabuki, Montale, Ungaretti, Saba, Quasimodo, Sanguinetti, Pavese, all the way to Patricia Cavalli, Valerio Magrelli or Milo de Angelis. These authors are like restless corals at the essential bottom of the Mediterranean and European sea of literature and that is why we feel them so close. I will mention the short Hungarian song, "Soldiers": We stand like / leaves / on the tree / in the fall. That's it. Four verses that annihilate a reality that is so often repeated to us in the Balkans. The wind of time annihilates personal histories here, instead of revealing windmills.
Given that you are rarely "at home" due to tours around the world, can you tell us from there what we are missing here, at U.S?
- Many times we ask ourselves the question what is a home given the dynamics of our thoughts and body. My grandmother used to tell me that your home is where your chimney smokes. But to see the smoke from the chimney, you have to go outside. Every abandonment is a confirmation of homelessness, even if it belongs to the past. I once wrote that for twenty years I have lived outside the context of permanent homes and roots. My homes were the airports with the same perfume scents from the free shops; and bus station waiting rooms full of hungry homeless people and city pigeons; and clean but sterile hotel rooms with balconies that can not accommodate even the shadow of a bird. Homes were also the rooms for literary residential residence full of books that absorbed the smell of cigarettes and fried oil from previous writers, but also the hospitals where silence meant fear and talking pain. I was suddenly and brutally attacked in the middle of the day by neo-Nazis in Vilnius, Lithuania; for ten days I lived surrounded by paramilitaries in the jungle on the border between Colombia and Panama; for several days we fled the kidnappers through the streets of Baghdad surrounded by young soldiers whose faces could not be seen from upright machine guns; wandering the villages with small and high windows and open ceilings on the Yellow Mountain in China; I marveled at the new museum of used items at the bottom of the cleared San Martin Canal in Paris; I looked at the clear sky over Berlin or New York that filled the parks with people and the buildings with substantial absences; I talked to imams in Indonesia who loved to take pictures with poets and officers; I walked the streets of the invisible border in Haifa, Israel, where they lived but rarely saw Israelis or Palestinians; I picked pomegranates from the Nagorno-Karabakh checkpoint between Armenia and Azerbaijan, looking at the sunshine in the dew and binoculars from the watchtower; we stood numb in front of a load of motionless shadows in a metal tree park in Singapore; we read in a square in Mexico City as thousands of people with candles in their hands searched for the missing students; we recited verses to the light of living volcanoes in Nicaragua and several hundred yards from Mumbai neighborhoods where children and death were starving. But I always came home to see my son grow faster than my longing for a safe home, I returned to the language of my childhood, to the language in which I write and breathe, to the words that allowed me to travel between spaces and silences - the two things that they create me while I create. But do I have the right to talk about leaving when I keep coming back? My ancestors, who had to escape the bayonet of senseless wars in order to stay alive, can speak much more deeply about the home. Their stories are cruel and sharp, without metaphors and poeticizations. The key in their pocket is not a symbol of return - and after a hundred years it is only a key that can open a door, even though it no longer exists.
Gentle question: how to bring poetry closer to the heart of the Macedonian? Kako what Racin once did, Shopov, Koneski, Петре М. Andreevski..? They remained the most quoted poets.
- Poetry is in its essence an approach, and the very attempt to approach something that is intimacy can cause a wound. Reading poetry is an exciting aesthetic and archeological act in which underlining the verses we like is like noting a find that we will return to one day. Writing and reading are revealing or sensing things that exist as a fact or an idea. There is no greater attachment of the reader than that to the book in which he recognized part of his past or unfortunate past, in which he realized that he was not alone in loneliness, in hopes and fears. In an attempt to explain aesthetic pleasure, Ortega and Gasset write that in poetry the reader seeks the passion and suffering of man. I would say that reviving the memory is stronger than remembering the lived. We live in the verses of Racin, Koneski, Andreevski, Urosevic and that is why we live with them. We remember them not in the mind, but in the blood. Inger Christensen's poetry was written on banners in Copenhagen instead of expiring political messages, and Yehuda Amihai's books were in the backpack of Israeli soldiers along with dry bread and an inscribed personal will. I have no illusion that poetry changes the world, but there is a moment in which we change the way we see the world. When Koneski's verse is written on the wall, it ceases to be a wall.
Disconnect from social networks, where you once brought us joy with each of your new poetic words. On the other hand, we have poets who, thank you on social networks, approached the audience. What do you think about poetry without "reviewers, proofreaders and proofreaders"?
- I have been living outside the social networks for more than six years, who took the touching word "friend" and multiplied it as zero on banknotes in times of inflation, so now people call themselves "brother" to call for intimacy again. Of course I miss the shared verses of my dear friends, but it was natural for me to withdraw, to dedicate myself to the silence, which Emily Dickinson called infinity, to bury myself in its depths until the hatreds and divisions in which we live pass away, because the soldier realizes the absurdity of the uniform only when it stands before the symmetry of the military cemetery. Everyone has their own way of fighting - I wanted to start mine with an inner transformation, the one Brodsky is talking about, a battle with yourself before you open up to the world. He calls the rest "autoconformism", the easiest way to declare yourself good before going to sleep, believing that with aggression you can change the world, before you change yourself. I am aware that self-examination is nothing new, but there is some challenging ritual in rediscovering things, like some childhood toy found in the basement, behind jars with non-existent labels. Yates has long said that arguing with others builds rhetoric, and arguing with oneself gives birth to poetry. Of course, I also have great respect for the engaged literature and art, for the one that outlives the wars and opposes the historically balanced and embalmed facts. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said a few months before his death: "I am already tired of being both an Israeli state enemy and a poet of the Palestinian revolution." Every artist is ultimately in search of their own voice and personal time, as opposed to the burden of the historical search for heroes. I live with the burden of the worlds, but also with the nobility to be between several languages, poetics, roots, and to belong only to the temporality and the attempt with the fragility to be stronger. Deleuze wrote that today is a challenge to find the framework of creative silence, the one that composer Arvo Part talks about and creates. Poetry writing is a continuation of the archetypal longing for silence in a time of historical uproar. When I woke up from a coma years ago, I was told that the first thing I did was point to the window - probably as an unconscious resistance to the time and space of wakefulness. Writing can also be an attempt to bring things closer to us that have strayed from our sight and thought, in a way that we think the tight grip of a piece of hemp in our hand will bring back the torn plane.
What it means to you pure Macedonian word?
- The cleanliness is beautiful, but also scary - the cleanliness of the hotel rooms does not show traces of life, the cleanliness of the uniforms should show how much we are all the same. Macedonian poetry is a place where the voices of all who have written verses in the language of their consciousness meet, without the need to shout. It is an endless dialogue at different times and that is why those voices do not interfere with each other. Hannah Arendt used to say that nothing exists in the singular, that everything exists to be perceived by someone, that the multitude is the Law of the world. That is why I understand Ante Popovski's "Two Silences" as a timeless ideal for dialogue between the one who says and the one who dreams. I see the pure Macedonian word only in dialogue with the world. It is like fragile snow covering a priceless mosaic, protecting it from the future and wild diggers.
How to teach our children to read aloud, even "foreign", foreign songs?
- On the street in Granada, Nicaragua, a poor child held out his hand to beg me, in a way that we as children stretched out our hands through the window to catch a piece of snowflake, to make sure of the perfection of natural forms. The child started reciting verses from Neruda and expected to be paid for it. He would have had breakfast without poetry, but the child continued to recite the verses when he received the surprise prize, and Ivo Andriќ said that the magic of poetry is that it surprises with already known things. Poetry existed there on the street and without the existential moment. At Managua airport, instead of flashing hotel advertisements, hung a huge portrait of the poet Ruben Dario. The airport in Belo Horizonte, Brazil is named after the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, whose verses were an essential source for the poetic thinking of Elizabeth Bishop or Mark Strand. I mention the airports, because there are different worlds in the temporary space of meetings and departures. They are the modern Aleph of our absences, and poetry is embodied so naturally in the dynamics of temporality. At least airports or streets with poets' names rarely change, they live far from false narratives about the permanence of ideologies. It sounds secret, but also so harmless if a child gets lost in the street "Esenin", because what is that literature if it does not make us get lost in it. Children themselves recite poetry without realizing that it is a language of initial perception and openness. I remember when my son Konstantin, then five years old, and I sat in the wolf in the park just when the wind blew, and he honestly said that now he, I and the wind are riding. They do not separate the mind from the heart, because they have no mechanisms to see themselves on the other side of the world. When we alienate children from the speech of naturalness, we later try to convince them by various methods that there is another world than that of bodily necessity. And that is why there is a natural resistance in them to learning by heart, after we have demolished the house of innocence in them and from the same bricks we have built walls lined with emotional insulation. I will quote the verses from Carlos Drummond de Andrade: My dad's shadow took me by the hand. Only a child can understand this state of love without naming it poetry.
Illiteracy is ubiquitous in Macedonia, what should the state do to become culturally literate?
- Since Plato, poets have been outside the pyramid of statehood. The state always tends to assimilate artists, but not their works. And we all go through those processes of joys and sorrows of rewards and hatreds. When Adam Zagajevski was asked why he feels melancholy in his poetry despite all the received national and international awards, including the Golden Wreath at the Struga Poetry Evenings, he replied that the joy lasts for about two days and then sinks again into the world of distant security. . Of course, every reward is an echo in trying to quietly and unconsciously convince yourself and the ghosts in the libraries that someone else sees what you see in the world of the "unreal". But it lasts very short and it is good that it is so. Uncertainty should tremble in the white space between the two written words. Literacy is understood water in the well of curiosity and it does not begin and end only with reading, but with active questioning. To the question "What is poetry?", To answer with "Poetry is what." Education is essential and irreplaceable in preserving the image of art, but one should also be careful here, because any attempt to forcibly intervene in the natural individual process of cognition can disrupt the foundation and joy of discovery, although it is nice when the end the path of literary maturation one will place signs. In 1891, the American ornithologist Eugene Schifflin decided to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to the United States. In one year he released several flocks of forty species of birds, but only sparrows and hummingbirds survived, of which there are now more than two hundred million. What would be the words that would survive our obsession with escapes from our own language and personal stories?
Can you at the end of the conversation, to honor us with one of your new, unpublished songs. Let it be a verse only. Give us air.
Light the sea of childhood mother / and put me to sleep at its bottom.