She comes as if she was from elsewhere. He is an ordinary man. This is a reversed situation from a well-known old French fairy tale. A mortal may become a beast under certain circumstances. These may take a form of victimization, planned and carefully oriented manipulation with an individual, mechanisms which institutional power uses in order to control thinking and behaviour of people. One of the intentions when crafting a poem was to avoid biased psychologism, which is represented by Foucault, culminates in the concept of collection of curiosities by the French philosophical symbolism and finds its literary expression through a Kafkaesque lens. Its popularity flourishes even more and represents the first step in conspiracy “theories”. To what extent the sociology of the quotidian has been taken into account successfully must be judged by the reader.
Short story collection Hell Returns written by Radovan Brenkus was published in Polish publishing house Abilion with an epilogue of literary critic Janusz Termer and it was translated by Marta Pelinko. Work Hell Returns contains a condensed characteristic of contemporary society. Even though it is depicted by means of destructive or grotesque pictures, the heroes of individual short stories can amaze the reader; stimulate his thinking, especially thinking about the state of collectivity or about ourselves. The author outlines ethical and existential issues in a magical-realistic manner, describes the helplessness, sometimes even the despair caused by progress of civilisation, by rejection, lack of adaptation or by taste to experience the meaning of existence more deeply. The short stories characters often run away to the imaginary world, become victims or executioners, sometimes they commit the self-destruction. This does not mean, however, that this prose does not offer space for catharsis. The author also does not forget about "white spots", but he leaves them to reader to fill with additional content. The complexity of message places the work of this author on a high literary level.
If a man wants to have a perfect mistress, he can marry a Russian. If he longs for wise children, he can choose a Jewess. And if he wants to have his grave tidy even long time after his death, he should marry a Lithuanian. There is really something to it, since the poetry of Lithuanians, even though no line of it would exist, lies in their roots and life style. The proof are the reactions of ordinary people to the oldest and most prestigious poetic festival in Lithuania 47th year of which was organized by The Association of Lithuanian Writers and by The Writers Club. Program of the international festival Poezijos Pavasaris was from May 15th to May 30th so rich that not only Lithuania lived with poetry. Poets were reciting in gardens, parks, museums, cafés, libraries, bookshops, schools and universities. Many related events, focused on journals, young poets or production of famous poets, were organized in Russia, Poland or Ireland; there were some workshops, conferences, poetic theaters, concerts.
Literary tour called Smoke from the Realm of Shadows took place from 11th to 24th November 2009 in Slovak libraries. Literary tour has the same name as the title of the latest collection of poems from Radovan Brenkus. During the authorial presentation, the large readership can familiarize itself with the character of works of this dark wave poetry representative in direct discussion with the author. This event is connected with autographs giving and all those interested in contemporary poetry are welcome.
Next year of the international poetic festival took place from 8th to 11th October 2009 and this time it was carried out in spirit of Polish poet and playwright Juliusz Słowacki. President of Polish Writers Union Marek Wawrzkiewicz opened the festival in the House of Literature in the Krakow suburbs. Except the national poets he also introduced the foreign guests from Mongolia (Barkhas Dorj), Germany (Karl Grenzler), Russia (Igor Bielov, Dmitrij Birman, Olesia Kornienko), Belarus (Uladzimir Niaklajeu), Estonia (Aarne Puu), Czech Republic (Vladimír Křivánek) and Slovakia (Radovan Brenkus). Publication of the anthology is a tradition of this festival. In this year, the poems of participated authors appeared in the Polish anthology called In our place, there is the column with the statue. Its presentation was a part of several various events.
International literary festival “Literackie Pomosty” held in May from 14th to 16th in Polish town Zielona Gora. The festival was organized by County and Urban Public Library of C. Norwida in cooperation with local branch of Polish Writers’ Union, Lusatian humanitarian college and with Urban Public Library in Zary. The goal was the presentation of literature of neighboring countries, as well as to acquaint the public with its latest trends. At the same time, the festival was oriented on experience exchange in connection with the present situation, perception and status of Polish literature in neighboring countries. Slovak side was representing by author, translator and publisher in one – Radovan Brenkus. There were invited the foreign guests too: Birutė Jonuškaitė (Lithuania), Andrií Bondar (Ukraine), Karl Grenzler (Germany), Andrei Khadanovich (Belarus), Aarne Puu (Estonia).
Smoke from the Realm of Shadows is the book title from author Radovan Brenkus from Košice. The book was published in these days with the support of Literary Fund in the Publishing House of the Slovak Writers’ Society. The poem collection is ilustrated with graphic reproductions of Ľubomír Kepič.
“As in classical music is humoresque besides the tragic opera, so in the world poetry has its unsubstitutable place the black poetry. We could mention the authors such as Poe, Baudelaire or Trakl. If I was convinced, that there is nothing new to invent in this way, the enjoyment from my own creativity and from discovering a new connections, would have run off a long time ago. However, the dark optics does not need to satisfy everyone. Although I was judged for blasphemy by some of the readers, I still believe, the percipient readers number will increase,” remarked Brenkus about his book. “If author is a witness, it does not mean, he performs the role of judge.”
It is the fourth poem collection from representative of newgothic poetic wave. Except the book of stories – Hell Returns, he published the first poem collection – March of the Dead (1997), poetry Requiem in the Dust (2002) and Romance with a will-o’-the-wisp (2005).
Interview with the writer Radovan Brenkus (Slovak Perspectives 2009/5)
Why to write? Peter Pišťanek is said not to enjoy the writing. What about you?
Maybe, he realized that writing has no sense if it is only writing for writing. Writing is really not about writing. It is about the creation of fictional reality and the question is whether it can offer something also to the author. If writing fills him with the peculiar world where he feels it is stronger than he is, writing has the sense. Then comes the joy, although the writer goes through the despair of own characters. Since I write sporadically, in my case, this hobby relates to the joy. If it to be the contrary, I would not resort to it. Of course, there are so called deaf periods, too, when the author has the feeling that writing can not cross its shadow. Why to force oneself to write a short story, when the inspiration has not matured into the story? Literature does not vanish either in this epoch; poet simply lives by his poetry. His vision of the world is a curse and blessing for the whole life, although he would never write a single verse again. If the promising poet gives up the writing of poems and the way of life related to it, he has never been a poet. Need of devoting only to other activities is a simple consequence that can be used for hiding the failures and not the reason for excusing such a choice. Why to write? At least in order to record the epoch, its social space. To record it by the new vision, maybe as the testimony for further generations. There can be a lot of reasons, but no writer is in a state of giving a single subjective reason.
Radovan Brenkus answers the questions of a chief editor of a Literary weekly.
1. Where are Slovakia, Europe, the world heading for? Pros and cons of today’s world movement. What’s there in a dangerous profusion, what’s a precious modicum in the world?
As we know, Europe is currently heading towards unification and Slovakia at the crossroads decided to keep pace. Gradual disappearing of the boundaries – not only territorial but the cultural as well – belongs to the most significant palpable positives of the global movement. Everyone can enjoy their abolition having first-hand experience of free travel. At the same time globalisation brings lots of historically notorious disadvantages, above all it leads to increasingly abysmal gap between the elite and the productive majority. Isn’t it a case of modern version of Roman Empire that will eventually disintegrate? I do not dare indicate what final end is the world coming to. Towards extinction? If we pondered in limits of a dialectical fact that everything that comes into being must cease existing, we would not make anything on this planet. As to less distant future, it is possible that after renaissance of the capitalism we will arrive at robotic society. Actually, the companies are forced to deploy new technological processes into their production so that they participate in a production of a surplus value embodied by working force by shortening socially inevitable time needed for a development of a product. It’s the surplus value that takes part in their financial profit that is only seemingly created by artificial increase of prices or avoiding the law of demand and offer. Accumulation of capital itself will paradoxically necessitate working force to be edged out by robots. The consequences of money extinction that at the beginning will barely keep its original function as a barter value will for sure surpass the most daring ideas of Marxist utopians about future socio-economical formation. As the answers to the most simplest questions are the most difficult ones, I rather switch to what’s in dangerous profusion. Besides egoism, violence and other human maladies perhaps of a major quantity there’s a hypocritical craftiness by principle „the end justifies the means". With pretending naivety it contrives to annihilate lives without others being able to recognise it. In contrast to many apparent ailments of humanity it’s a case of a peculiar invisible epidemic whose seriousness we simulate not to realise. No matter my answer to what is a precious modicum will sound a cliche, yet I must point out that what’s woefully missing is love: real, sincere, selfless.
Radovan Brenkus answers the questions of the editor-in-chief of the Slovak Perspectives.
1. Media and politics. There is some kind of tension between government and media. Who is right?
It is not possible to answer this question unambiguously, because the life is not controlled by the mathematical rules. Media and politics are simply about people. Government consists of individuals defending their interests and the same is true for the media. In the case of conflict of interests which we are observing, I would be surprised, if there were no tension between government and media. On the other hand, the opinion platform of the concrete medium is often in sufficient agreement with the politics of government and we can not talk about some kind of tension, since the medium becomes the strong device for the influence of the public opinion by means of people conforming to the state representatives. The relation between government and media is constantly changing; sometimes one side is right, next time the other. Opinion of the citizen, as long as he has his own, ultimately depends on himself, on his judgment and consideration of all the connections. I would not underestimate this possibility of searching for the truth which is typical for the minority. Basically, the medium regarded as the device of power by which the power is promoted, serves the groups of individuals who support it financially. It doesn’t have to be the government. Although the media often claim to be independent, no such depoliticized media really exist.