Louis Esterhuizen. Grzegorz Wróblewski, die passasier onderweg …

Een van die opwindendste wêrelddigters tans is sekerlik die Poolse digter Grzegorz Wróblewski (Gdansk, 1962) wat sedert 1985 in Kopenhagen woonagtig is.  Met die verskyning van sy mees onlangse bundel, Kopenhaga (2013: Zephyr Press) het Piotr Gwiazda ‘n onderhoud met die digter gevoer vir die webtuiste Jacket2. Aangesien dit talle punte betrek wat tans ook in ons eie digkuns ter sake is, het ek gevoel om bepaalde aspekte van dié onderhoud te belig.

So is Wróblewski iemand wat dikwels daarvan beskuldig word dat sy verse meer prosa is as poësie. Vir Wróblewski gaan dit egter primêr om wat hy “formal integrity” noem. Op Gwiazda se vraag of Kopenhaga dan nie eerder as ‘n boek met prosagedigte as poësie beskou moet word nie, het Wróblewski soos volg geantwoord: “Yes, because it’s partly poetry and partly prose. Some texts are closer to poetry, others to prose. I myself have used the term “essays” [szkice] to emphasize the mixture of these two elements. But there is no reason to worry about definitions. You can choose any definition you want, as long as you can defend it.”

En dan staan Wróblewski ook ietwat krities teenoor die literêre opset in sy tuisland. Op die vraag of sy gedigte in die toekoms in Pole gelees sal word, het hy geantwoord: “Well, the earth keeps turning, keeps changing. In poetry, it’s always just one generation at a time. The same goes for poetry criticism. You can consider yourself lucky if your work survives for a few generations. It’s hard to talk about the future. I have no idea whether anyone will read my work in five or ten years. I have my doubts, because I am a Polish writer and there are strange things going on in Poland these days in terms of critical reception, the kinds of poetry that gets official support, etc.”

Nog twee vrae wat ek besonder interessant gevind het, is die volgende:

Gwiazda: Do you consider your poetry political?

Wróblewski: Yes, definitely, since it is poetry about the world. I don’t live on a desert island, even though I sometimes feel isolated from other people. Because my poetry is also about the life of the mind, and the state of one’s mind is a political matter, my poetry is both very hermetic and very social. It comprises these two elements. One doesn’t negate the other. On the contrary, by being isolated, you can see certain things more clearly. Because you can see more clearly, your poems are stronger in the political sense.

Gwiazda: Do you therefore view yourself as a kind of intellectual or moral authority?

Wróblewski: No, because I ultimately don’t know who reads my work. Sometimes I feel like I’m just here for the ride: you know, the passenger syndrome. Ultimately I have no idea what my role is as a poet. When I give readings, I meet and talk with different people, but I don’t know what I represent to them. Besides, I’m not in a position to offer advice. Especially advice on how to survive. I really don’t have any.

Ten slotte, die aanhaling wat na alle waarskynlikheid die rede is waarom ek besluit het om juis hierdie onderhoud vanoggend aan die groot klok te hang. Na aanleiding van sy antwoord hierbo het Gwiazda aan die digter gevra waar hy tans woonagtig is …

Wróblewski: In one sense, I live in Copenhagen. That is where my official address is since 1985. But I also live in a particular section of the city, Amager. This matters a lot. If I lived in another neighborhood, I would be a different writer. Location has a huge impact on the writer’s work.

But more generally, I live on planet Earth. Wherever I go, I see the same phenomena, the same absurdities. We are all humans, we exist to satisfy our physical and mental needs, often through illusions, self-deceptions, religions, other substitutes. It’s such a sad condition: going to work, earning money, watching TV, reading the newspaper, worrying about politics — nothing makes sense, to be honest. I think of the earth as a kind of insane asylum. You have to be an idiot to survive. If you are not an idiot, then the only choice is suicide. It’s the most obvious choice, intellectually.

Or maybe what makes sense is the possibility of human contact, a friendship, a meeting of the minds, perhaps through literature. Through literature you send signals to other people. Maybe someone in the universe who feels the same way as you do will receive them. This wouldn’t be a victory, but at least it would give you the strange satisfaction that you are not alone.

Gaan lees gerus die volledige onderhoud. Hieronder volg twee gedigte wat gevind kan word op Word Riot se webblad.



2 The first girl I fell in love with
told me incessantly
about her passion for preparing hens’ stomachs.

Even listening to Brahms
in the evenings didn’t help us.
Love evaporated in no time.

The second one ate tulips before going to sleep.
Then I began to ponder again
about the first one.


A Long-Haired Stranger

He tells the people coming out of the bank about travels

in time.

He touts the mastodon. (The mastodon is domesticated

and has long incisors but recently he succumbed to a serious

lung disease…)

You bear the responsibility for using defoliants in Vietnam.

I can absolve you but it has

its price– he persuades the interested old men.

They quickly take him out of 2005.

As he leaves, he distributes his curly locks:
Remember, I’ll be back soon

with the mastodon!

(c) Grzegorz Wróblewski (Uit Pools vertaal deur Adam Zdrodowski)

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