Louis Esterhuizen. Tadeusz Różewicz oor die digkuns en die etiek daarvan


Foto deur: Ela Lempp.

Die Poolse digkuns is inderdaad geseënd met ‘n aantal formidabele digters, waaronder die Nobelpryswenners Wisława Szymborska en Czesław Miłosz, plus die “kon-net-sowel-gewen-het”-kandidate soos Zbigniew Herbert en veral die weergalose Tadeusz Różewicz (foto). SJ Fowler, wat ‘n onderhoud vir 3:AM Magazine met die 91-jarige Różewicz gevoer het, begin sy onderhoud met die volgende waarneming: “A poet who changed the face of twentieth century poetry, Tadeusz Różewicz is a giant of Polish literature and undoubtedly one of the most important poets the country has ever produced. Still writing in his 91st year, his lifetime engagement with groundbreaking poetry, fiction and plays has spanned, and often encapsulated, the seismic tumult of the past century in his home nation. His poetic is the rarest of things, an anti-art that resides still within the realm of the explicable, and the ethical, striding between the utterly personal and the political – often brutal in its beauty and intensity, it is an aesthetic that is wholly his own, unique and unwavering […] Tadeusz Różewicz has set him aside as one of the most respected innovators and stylists in modern European history.”

Inderdaad.  Danksy Różewicz se ervarings tydens die wêreldoorlog, en veral vanweë die feit dat hy grootliks as ‘anti-digter’ beskou word, sentreer heelwat van Fowler se vrae rondom dié aspek van Różewicz se skrywerskap en as sulks raak dit ‘n onderhoud wat netjies aanklank vind by heelwat van die onlangse gesprekke op hierdie webblad; veral die wat oor die etiese aspekte van die digkuns gehandel het …

 By wyse van lusmaker, die volgende drie vrae, met Różewicz se antwoorde daarby:

3:AM: You’ve spoken of an almost epiphanic moment when you realised literature could not provide you with refuge and solace in the aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War and your painfully intimate involvement with those experiences. Is your work centred on a notion of this failure of literature to provide concrete resolutions?

Tadeusz Różewicz: I‘m going back to 1945. I found myself in Krakow. I was going to study Art History at the Jagiellonian University, and it wasn’t accidental that what I chose to study was the history of art. It was in order to reconstruct the Human Being bit by bit. It was as if I had two different men living inside me then. One was full of admiration and respect for ‘fine’ arts – music, literature, poetry; the other was full of mistrust of all the arts. The site for this struggle inside me, between those two personae, was my poetic practice. I felt admiration, reverence, for works of art – the aesthetic experience replaced the religious experience – but at the same time I felt a growing disdain for those ‘aesthetic’ values. I felt something had ended forever – for me, for humanity – and it was something that religion or science or art hadn’t protected. As a young poet – and one who worshipPed all the great poets, living and dead, like gods – I came to understand Mickiewicz’s words, too soon: ‘It’s harder to live well through a day than to write a book’. And I understood, also too soon, what Tolstoy said: that writing a children’s alphabet book means more than all the novels of genius. Well, understanding ‘truths’ like that prematurely doesn’t help a writer who’s got years of apprenticeship ahead of him in the kingdom of art.

3:AM: And do you think this realisation is an ethical reality that all writers and readers need to grasp, to admit literatures limitation, and work forward under that foundation?

TR: I turned away from aesthetic sources. Dismissively. I thought: ethics, that can be the source of creative work. But both those wells had dried up: ‘The murderers washed their hands in them’. So I tried to reconstruct the one that seemed to me the most important for life, and for the life of poetry. Ethics. And because I’d linked politics with ethics and not aesthetics ever since my youth, my work had a political hue, and in my mind the political stood for the socially progressive.

3:AM: What are your reflections now, decades on from your decision to employ your definitive, direct, minimalist and fundamentally reactionary and ethical and responsible, poetic style?

TR: New art comes into being through the invention of a new form – a new form of expression, a new language and syntax. Not through making noble declarations, repeating slogans, signing letters and protests, not through insisting that we’re full of humanitarian feelings. An engaged artist is an artist who’s engaged in the struggle for a new form… the content’s the same for everyone: everybody suffers, has family conflicts, sexual problems, gets ill, has problems with children, political problems, religious, dietary, ecological, housing, and so on and so on. That’s the human condition… but only artists are condemned to try to solve the problems of form. An epigone’s not a creator, because the hardest problems have been solved for him by the real Creators. Nowadays we often hear that everyone’s an artist and a poet, that everything’s poetry… yes, it’s true, everything is poetry… except for bad poems.

Gaan lees gerus die volledige onderhoud by 3:AM Magazine. Vir jou leesplesier volg een van Różewicz se beroemdste gedigte.



When all the women in the transport
had their heads shaved
four workmen with brooms made of birch twigs
swept up
and gathered up the hair

Behind clean glass
the stiff hair lies
of those suffocated in gas chambers
there are pins and side combs
in this hair

The hair is not shot through with light
is not parted by the breeze
is not touched by any hand
or rain or lips

In huge chests
clouds of dry hair
of those suffocated
and a faded plait
a pigtail with a ribbon
pulled at school
by naughty boys.

© Tadeusz Ròzewicz (Vertaling deur Adam Czerniawski)



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