In poetry, you cannot do anything by force | Miłosz Festival

In poetry, you cannot do anything by force

Festiwal Milosza, Pawilon Czapskiego, spotkanie z Michael Ondaatje

“I just cannot see my poetry being read in villas with any pools, I simply can’t”, says Szymborska in Napisane życie / Written Life about how she imagines the readers of her works, and the audience gathered at the screening bursts in laughter. “When my readers buy my work, they check how much money they have left in their wallets. But they still buy it”, she adds. In the same film, Michał Rusinek explains that one cannot believe the words of the poet, because that is her way of answering difficult questions – with an anecdote so captivating, that one simply forgets the questio

The day started with a meeting with the winners of the Wisława Szymborska Award, whom we asked some difficult questions. This year, the award was won by Jakub Kornhauser (Drożdżownia) and Uroš Zupan for Unhurried Seafaring, as well as the translators: Katarina Šalamun-Biedrzycka and Miłosz Biedrzycki. Also the poets who are no longer with us – Zdzisław Jaskuła and Witold Wirpsza – were present during the following meetings thanks to their works.

Michael Ondaatje spoke about how important solitude and the feeling of community are for a poet. According to him, an expansive dialogue with other kinds of art allows the creator, who sits in a cramped room, to understand that there are millions of similar creators, sitting in their rooms. This provides an opportunity to get into a broader context, but of course by adhering to the principles, which are different for film, painting and literature. When asked about his favourite childhood stories, Ondaatje answered that it would be hard for him to point any particular story out. “I grew up around stories of demons”.

Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki introduced us to the world of poetic demons, and Piotr Matywiecki, host of the meeting, spoke beautifully about his poems, filled with names and mysterious, often autobiographical inscriptions: “The name is a sound, and the sound cannot be interpreted in itself.” And the meeting was conducted in the same way – hard to interpret, trance-inducing, emotional, intimate and irrational. “The power of those poems and their convention invalidates any other convention, including the convention of this evening and my role in it”, Matywiecki summed up. As always, the poet did not want to discuss and only read his poetry. The words of his poem, saying that “In poetry, you cannot do anything / by force” seemed to be some sort of explanation.

The evening was a combination of two strong poetic performances – a hypnotic reading by Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki and the “Wirpsza” concert by Jazzformance. Both performances, filled with authentic poetic power, which comes from – as the poet said – the fact that “one text kindles another”, did not leave anyone indifferent. We hope that this will be the result of this year’s festival – that it will become an inspiration for poetic endeavours and it will kindle our heads!

“I allowed you, for a moment, to see the flower of the nasturtium with the eyes of a butterfly. I allowed you to look at a meadow with the eyes of a salamander. Then I gave you the eyes of various people, so that you could look with them at the same city”, wrote Czesław Miłosz in his poem Eyes, featured in the Road-side Dog. We wish that you will be able to carry all the perspectives that you learned during the Festival with you, and to let them inspire you until the next Miłosz Festival.



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