Don’t tell me if the poem is difficult. Tell me if you like it

The Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace resounded wit many poetic voices – on the second day of the Milosz Festival our guests shared with the readers the sources of their creative inspirations.

Karol Maliszewski, nominated for the Polityka Passport, the Nike Literary Award and the Silesian Literary Laurel, confessed yesterday that his poetic fame did not really reach his native Nowa Ruda. What has reached his home town is pop culture, slogans and advertisements that he uses to build his poetry. “Quoting reality is my way of struggling with lyrical infantilism, purifying the language”, he told the readers. “Besides, slogans are extraordinarily poetically fertile. Sometimes I can see a banner which reads ”plein-airs on sale” or a signpost “the Word sawmill” and I think to myself that the copyrighters are not bad poets at all. That tormented voice of telemarketers or strips with information rolling on a TV screen, all that begs for a haiku”.

“Tree injuries” – Maliszewski would certainly like that too. It is the issue the botanist Urszula Zajączkowska deals on a daily basis. But being a naturalist is but one of her professions; another is poetry which Zajączkowska treats as an alternative path to the studying and describing nature. “The deeper I go into science the more clearly I see how many things still remain mystery” – she told her readers yesterday. – “ Physics is the best method to characterise such things – just one formula, one line – and here we have the definition of a blade of glass. But if you ever saw the stalks shaking in the wind, you know it’s indescribable. Then poetry is of help”.

Linn Hansén’s poetry also touches science. Contrary to popular opinions about Scandinavian literature, the Swedish poet does not deal with crime stories but with history. Her almost obsessive interest in history is reflected in classroom-like questions she abundantly quotes in her poems: Who was a hoplite? When was the wheel invented? What was decisive for the success of money? “To me history is something which legitimises our activity. When we want to describe a complex issue, we usually say: It’s a long story” – explained Hansén. “History is a key for which we reach if we want to learn what we are and why we are like this”.

Robert Pinsky. released the readers from classroom questions of the type “what the author means by this poem?” At a meeting with his readers, the American poet openly stated that his poems, which are considered complex by critics, as they are full of references to European heritage, are written simply for pleasure – his own and the readers‘. “When I cook dinner I don‘t expect its taste and aroma to be analysed. Just tell me if you liked it. It’s the same with poetry”. Pinsky is world-renowned not only for his poems written for pleasure but also from his translations of Miłosz’s poetry. “Cooperation with Miłosz was for me the honour of a lifetime” – he confessed yesterday. “As to translation, it is the best way of reading. A sheer pleasure. It would be interesting to know if the participants in translation workshops that started yesterday agreed with that”.

The second day of the Festival brought more reflections on the guiding theme of the event – i.e. narcissism and individualism. Roma Sendyka, Olga Drenda and Przemysław Czapliński discussed about singularity in the era of narcissism.. “Politicians tell people: look at the mirror, see how perfect and beautiful you are, better than others”, said Przemysław Czapliński. The panellists agreed it is difficult to give a precise definition of narcissism nowadays. As a matter of fact, the notion which is commonly associated with vanity, has a number of meanings, beginning from positive ones, such as caring for oneself and working to perfect one’s personality, to negative with the most topical one – nationalism, that is uncritical adoration of ones own country.

The day ended with a theatrical premiere. Tomasz Cyz adapted Miłosz’s works for stage. His performance After Exile will be played for the following two days of the festival and in the upcoming season. The festival audience also met in Kolanko No.6 at the international poetry slam, in the festival club Metaforma, in which Pinsky showed films from his project Favorite Poem. Massolit was also filled with poetry, premiering the newest issue of WIDMA. The youngest participants, somewhat hyperactive after the morning “disagreement exercises” run by Agnieszka Wolny- Hamkało, ended the day with the stories read by Krzysztof Piątkowski.