Viel gäbe es noch zu erzählen, etwa, dass er nicht der einzige Schriftsteller in seiner Familie ist - sein Vater verarbeitete die traumatischen Erlebnisse seiner zehn Jahre im sibirischen Gulag als Kriegsgefangener in umfangreichen Memoiren, sein Sohn hat begonnen, Kurzgeschichten zu schreiben. Oder dass seine Familie stolz auf ihn ist, weil er nicht aufgegeben hat zu schreiben. Oder dass er der unbedingten Überzeugung ist, dass die Poesie in unserer schnellen Zeit, in der das Wort "Kommunikation" groß geschrieben wird und die Menschen doch weniger miteinander kommunizieren als jeher, eine wunderbare Chance bietet: echte Kommunikation.
Gestaltung: Friederike C. Raderer
Pour moi, la poésie c’est beaucoup une question de vie qu’une question d’art.
Depuis que j’ai commencé a écrire, j’ai toujours desiré de comprendre dans la poésie le monde dans son integralité, le monde qui et une partie du tout. Quelques années avant la chûte du Mur en 1989, lorsque j’ai essayé de faire mon entré dans le monde littéraire roumain, j’ai écris des poèmes dans lesquels un alter ego voyagea librement dans les lieus ou dans les contrée ou je ne suis jamais arrivé. Á cette époque, le désir d’être quelqu’un d’autre avait, en effet, une explication précise. C’était la frustration génerée par l’impossibilité de sortir de l’espace fermé communiste, mais aussi par l’aspiration bovarique vers l’extérieur, par mes lectures animées d’un rimbaldien « je est un autre » ou par la fascination des pseudonymes de Fernando Pessoa.
A cette époque, j’ai eu seulement l’intuition que la poésie – dans ses hypostases d’art et de style de vie – peut englober tous les territoires qui m’ont été familiers : la maladie, la souffrance, les hôpitaux et les sanatoriums la science et les voyages, et bien entendu, toutes les transfigurations identitaires. Je sentais que la poésie peut comprendre – simultaneiment et consecutivement – tous les éléments composants du « tout », dans une manière qu’aucune autre art ne le peut réaliser.
Aujourd’hui, je sais que la poésie est un espace dans lequel notre monde, en sa totalité – le monde intérieur et le monde extérieur – se retrouvent spécifiquement réfletés, comme dans un miroir ou comme dans les étranges évolutions d’une « second life » des espaces virtuels, qui donnent aux gens autant de consolation.
En plus, la poésie a la capacité merveilleuse de guérir les frustrations et les bovarysmes, les souffrances atroces, les situations dans lesquelles les hommes se sent perdus et, en fin, elle a le pouvoir d’apprivoiser le sentiment de l’absence du sens, la solitude et le désespoir.
C’est pour ça que le désir de devenir quelqu’un d’autre a eu, en ce qui me concèrne, deux conséquences : l’une, sur le plan artistique, due á l’identification, jusqu’à l’oubli de soi-même, avec mon personnage et l’autre sur le plan strictement pérsonnel.
Sur le plan artistique, tout ce tourment dans lequel les voyages immaginaires se croisent avec l’expérience directe de l’isolement, de la souffrance, de la maladie et de la mort ( vecus, presque cotidiennement, dans les sanatoriums où je faisais mon métier) ont eu comme résultat des textes théoriques qui ont envisagé d’expliquer le paradigme poétique du chimérisme, que je l’ai formulé et lancé en 1988. Il propose une manière d’écrire la poésie dans lequel la maladie, le voyage, la transfiguration et la science sont de points de repère autour desquelles le monde peut être atteint et compris, et, en même temps, un style de vie.
En ce sens, dans l’acception tirée de ma vision poétique – qui a anticipé, dans le plan poétique, les tendances de globalisation et les compliquées questions de l’identité d’aujourd’hui – est un autre nom pour le tout (qui est le thème même de notre débat). Puisque, être partout dans le monde, dans l’espace, comme dans le temps, signifie être en empathie avec le tout. Cette sorte de poésie essayé, en fait, d’ouvrir une porte vers l’univers infini.
En ce qui concèrne l’autre plan, celui de la vie personnelle, je suis en mésure d’avouer que cette manière d’écrire la poésie a changé ma vie, avec tout son cortège de voyages et en dépit de tous les quiproquos.
Aujourd’hui, le simple fait de regarder l’univers par le filtre de la poésie chimériste, de scruter le monde de la place isolée de mon sanatorium ou de ma Roumanie, souvent mal comprise, a fini par m’induir une fièvre de voyage que n’a une autre guérison que le voyage réel, le voyage proprement dit.
Et la realité indiscutable c’est que, depuis á peu près une décennie, j’ai réussi de refaire, et de parcourir, au sens le plus propre du mot, plusieurs chemins de mon personnage Himerus Alter.
Autrement dit, j’ai pu sentir l’air frais des Alpes Suisses pendant l’été, j’ai pu voir l’Ecosse enjaunie par les buissons de gorse en printemps, j’ai pu respirer, comme aujourd’hui, l’atmosphère cosmopolite de Paris, ville mythique, longtemps cachée dans ma mémoire sentimentale.
Et toute celà justifie, à mon avis, le fait de pouvoir dire que la poésie anticipe et influence le vécu, que le regard plus large sur le tout peut devenir un style de vie tout á fait spécifique, une des plus belles manières de vivre sur la Terre.
*Traduit en francais par Vasile Igna, le texte a été lu par l’auteur à la Rencontre bilatérale PEN Roumanie-France, du 20.06 2011 au 22.06.2011, Paris
This is an interview that I was asked by Patty Zion. It appeared in April 2008 on the website of TJMF Publishing (www.tjmfpublishing.com). Patty Zion is the author of “Child at Heart: Poems for Your Inner Child” and "Nurturing a Poem", both available on Amazon. She and her husband live in the northern Appalachian mountains of western Pennsylvania, where she enjoys a small-town life. Patty is a freelance editor and writer; she serves as Staff Editor for TJMF Publishing. It was a pleasure and honor that I had this dialogue with her.
Patty Zion: Vasile, you have led a fascinating life and have received many honors – recognition of your writings as well as other achievements. I truly don’t know where to start with this interview. So why don’t you start by telling us the one question you are hoping I will ask?.
Vasile Baghiu: “Fascinating?” Thanks for the compliment, Patty! I know my place, and I can see further than my nose, but maybe you are right. Maybe I should reconsider my life as a possible subject for a novel, because there are some moments in my life of which I think in terms of literary or movie experience rather than in terms of reality. Who knows? Maybe, some time in the future… As for the question, well, I should probably have preferred you to start by asking me why I have not ceased to write during all these years despite the evidence that writing poetry is not quite a big deal nowadays.
P.Z.: And what is the answer to that question? .
V.B.: I have continued to write poems because I have not been able not to write, so to say. It is in my nature, I guess. I suspect – and from time to time I succeed to prove it – that the way I see the world is often different from other people’s ways of seeing, from other poets’, which is a serious motivation. The difference I am talking about is not egotistic, as I am not that arrogant, but a path to discover those small things that make poetry gather itself, line by line, image by image, in my head. More, I feel that poetry, along with love and faith, is one of the most precious treasures that one can achieve in this lifetime. Poetry is an expression of love. To write and to read poetry is love. To write and to read poetry is pure sensitivity. To write and to read poetry is a very human thing one can do. One other reason is that poetry has really helped me to survive during hard times, and that it still does whenever I am in difficulty.
P.Z.: Tell us about life in Romania. .
V.B.: My Romania is a very beautiful country. I love it very much. Despite its beauty, still there are here poverty and many unpleasant things which have come from the long period of the communist regime that my peoples had to suffer between 1945 and 1989. Mentalities, behavior, a certain type of relationships. There are new hopes now – people have an impressing energy to rebuild their own lives, but things move slowly. It’s not easy for people to accommodate a normal life after two or three generations deprived of freedom.
Beyond these, I think that in a way life can be good or bad regardless the place you are. Human condition, sufferance, love, friendship, disease, death, all are universal, beyond any kind of border, beyond cultural and social-political differences. If you understand life and if you are not very pretentious, life in Romania is quite good – no doubt, a bit surrealistic in my perception, though, a bit contradictory, natural (which means not artificial), authentic, full of humor and sadness at the same time, pathetic and sentimental quite often, equally refined and raw, never boring for sure.
P.Z.: You taught yourself to speak, read, and write English. How did you do that? .
V.B.: I still have much to learn, as you see. I am aware it’s a long way. I simply decided about 2002 not to wait any more for that providential translator to see my genial poems. Just kidding – not quite about genial, but rather about providential. Kidding for sure. I decided then to take this matter of writing on my own. Always it has been like that, as it must be, but that decision made me begin a new kind of life. Therefore, I have just made the effort to learn.
In the same time I began to have contact with people from around the world. I applied for some scholarships in Western Europe and got them. I traveled and stayed abroad due to them. I wrote poems. I involved myself in discussions on poetry forums like this one and correct my particular way to write in English. I sent some of those poems to magazines and had the surprise that they were accepted for publication from time to time. Step by step, I have accustomed myself to new literary and artistic mediums, either online or real, though they both are actually real.
The main reason for my determination to write in a different language from mine is that I rather consider poetry as a matter of life than art. I mean that in my mind the language barriers were not real barriers. It’s banal, but it is worth to repeat that poetry is not mainly a matter of words, but especially a matter of capacity to see, and this capacity is universal. The story on the matter is longer – maybe I will write it some time in the future.
P.Z.: Are there certain English-speaking writers who inspired you when you first learned to read English? Who are they? .
V.B.: I was influenced at my first reads by the American poets of the twentieth century in their very good Romanian translations. I used to read many American and British poets when I was a teenager and later as a young man. For a while, lately, I have the chance to read them in English and I enjoy their poetry very much. Of course, among them are Eliot, Pound, Williams, Frost, Cummings, Moore, Plath and many others. In my opinion, the best poetry of the twentieth century is the American poetry. It is diverse and very human. It has a type of naturalness that can’t be found very often. I also like the German poetry, the French poetry, the Italian one, the poetry of South America, the Spanish poetry, but I have a subjective affinity for the American one. Maybe that is why I am here.
P.Z.: What do you strive to achieve in your poetry? How do you know when you’ve written a good poem? .
V.B.: I simply want to find my own voice. There is a struggle between the influences and the specific feelings that one can have while writing poems. A poet learns much from the masters and also from all the other contemporary poets. The theoretical works are good, no doubt, but reading good poetry is the best way to learn how to write good poems. I know when a poem is good when I am not tended any more to criticize it as if I were a critic.
An important thing is to be able to recognize a cliché, which is the most frequent trap in which a poet can be caught. Anyway, I read and correct many times both each line and the entire poem until I decide the final form. And I usually work on the two versions, Romanian and English.
P.Z.: In your opinion, why has poetry thrived as a means of communication? .
V.B.: One of the reasons might be the fact that, although people exchange words and messages between each other more easily than they did in the past, they do not communicate properly. The life’s speed of this time might be a cause. Therefore, people instinctively recognize in poetry a kind of that last frontier, a rescue. They see that a poem says more in terms of human feelings than any speech can do. Despite this truth, people do not pile themselves up to read poetry, but I think this is normal, as poetry is also an elitist genre.
Poetry has thrived as a means of communication, though, because it is universal medium, a language that despite the different languages in which it is written, it speaks in the language of the human soul, which is universal, available everywhere on earth, not to mention that poetry keeps the cultural identity, which makes it even more spectacular.
P.Z.: What role does criticism play in creating an enduring poem?
V.B.: A poet must have the so-called critical spirit. A poet must avoid any indulgence related to his or her own poems. He must be a real critic with his or her own work. Also, the critique coming from outside is important. If a poet wants to improve his or her work and to learn, then he or she must face the critique. Without critique the literary life would be dead. Without critique we even would not be able to make the difference between a poem and a simple personal note in a diary.
P.Z.: How do your family members feel about your writing, and what makes them most proud of you? .
V.B.: You may smile, but to answer this question I asked my wife, my daughter and my son about their feelings related to this issue. They said that they appreciated that I didn’t give up writing despite the difficulties both in our country and in our life, that I have offered them the opportunity to have discussions about books and ideas in our own house. Not so bad, I guess… They are my life.
P.Z.: Are there any other writers in your family?
V.B.: My father wrote his memories after he returned from Siberia. He survived the Gulag, those ten years of war prison, and he had the impressive courage to write, in a very dangerous time, in 1952, after he miraculously came back home, about his terrific experience as a prisoner in the Soviet Union. He discovered, step by step, page by page, his own consciousness of writing and of what it means to be a writer. He was not properly a writer, but he did succeed to write a book that is appreciated now by critics and readers. After he died in 1974 (when I was eight), I discovered the manuscript, and since then I kept it secretly till the fall of the dictatorial regime. I published it eventually with many difficulties.
I also see that my son writes short stories. He publishes them in the high school’s magazine.
P.Z.: What specific things have you learned at the Open Mike Café? .
V.B.: I admire and enjoy the friendly attitude of all the poets here. I have learned that there are places in the world, real or virtual either, where people really want to communicate with each other. Open Mike Café is such a place. I simply learn here how to write poems in English. It’s a school. I am lucky to be here, and I am grateful to all of you for accepting me as a member. My regret is that I have not too much time to be more active in the café as I wished in the last time.
P.Z.: You recently encouraged the members to write poetry about economics. Have you succeeded in writing any poetry on that subject yet? .
V.B.: I tend to be experimental in my writing from time to time. Among my works, there are four long poems using scientific themes and scientific words. It’s a challenge. Now, I try to take economics as a territory of poetry. Why not? I have written one poem of this kind, under the title Money’s Language, and I was very encouraged to see it received so many feedbacks. Also, I am working on a Power Point presentation which tries to show that there might be a link between poetry and economics, even in the day to day life.
P.Z.: If you could choose any spot in the world to sit and write for one day, where would it be? .
V.B.: Capri Island, Italy. I was there with my family in 2006, but we stayed just for a couple of hours. I could do this due to the grant I had received (and saved for that very purpose) in Scotland. By the way, Scotland could be such a place. There are also many others, including some in the USA, but Capri is a magic place of inspiration. Paris, of course… I also think to Venice sometimes, a place where poetry breathes in each and every stone, in each and every song, in each and every sunset. God gives us so many good things in this lifetime!
P.Z.: Thank you, Vasile, for sharing your answers with our members. It is a pleasure to know you and to work with you.