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Poetry's demise

Mircea Pricăjan

Publicat Duminică, 17 Decembrie 2006, ora 11:38

      An interesting idea has been emitted in the last couple of years concerning the future of the Romanian literature, but, unfortunately, there are few those who have deemed it with the proper importance. Many have worried pointlessly, seeing in its utterance a kind of malevolence. Judging things soberly, it really seems a potent idea, with many chances of becoming reality.

      I’m speaking of a certain demise of poetry. The critic who spoke first about this is Ion Simuţ, in an article published maybe two years ago in “Familia” (The Family) Cultural Magazine from Oradea. The fabric of this idea is based on a mathematic calculation every keen book-store goer can verify by himself: poetry collections no longer have the same large amount of buyers they had in the days of the communist regime. Why so? Simply because the metaphorical language it once used is now obsolete. The double-meaning expressions it was once almost fully based on have no longer any meaning.

      The times have changed, that’s a fact! Freedom of speech is now a certainty and no one thinks appropriate anymore the use of a bombastic double-faced language to imply a generally acknowledged truth. The once more too famous poets couldn’t adapt to the new phenomenon, continued to produce the same pure lyrical social philosophies or considerations and saw themselves outsold by the new prose (which is not even prose in the true sense of the term, but memories, diaries and accounts of the traumas lived in the past regime—but that’s another subject for, maybe, another editorial!). New poets have appeared, of course.—It’s almost proverbial that every Romanian is born with a poetic bone in his/her body.—But they soon realized that what they wrote was not much different from what the gang hip-hop bands were singing, and that their intended buyers were more inclined to buy CDs than their poetry collections. (Here we stumble again over another sensible matter—the lack of interest the common people show towards literature—which will surely be the starting point for a future editorial…) The new poets also noticed that their post-modern forefathers, which they had looked up to, also abandoned the lyrical form and adopted prose. Let’s mention only one case: Mircea Cărtărescu. After being the lieder of the 80s generation and linking his name especially to poetry, he turned towards prose, becoming now perhaps the most appreciated author in the Romanian literature. And not without any merit, let me add…

      There’s talk now about a new breed of poets. The Millennium Generation, they could be called. Adrian Urmanov is thought to be its lieder. The goal should be the so-called “utilitarian poem”.

      I have my reserves about its power. Judging from the few excerpts I could lay my eyes on, I couldn’t sense a dramatic change in tone or substance from everything that has already been experimented without any success before. The only novelty would be the young spirit which springs through some of these poems. Which is, sometimes, enough, one might admonish me. Yes, I agree—it is enough for a limited amount of time, for as long as the poets are young and angry (a propos: should this be the Romanian Beat Generation?), but once that’s gone too, nothing potent will remain of it. The kind of spirit surging from the Urmanov generation (of which, chronologically, I am also a part of, but ideologically I am NOT, I’m sorry to shout!) is a contextual spirit, like a Pavlovian reaction that passes as soon as the bells stop chiming.

      What would be the conclusion?

      That poetry is indeed in peril of demise!

      Poets will still exist, of course, they will still fight for a new voice, for a new mind, but their product will be un-sellable.

      The battle that’s being fought right now in Romania is between the reign of fiction and the reign of memoirism, both prose-based literary categories.

      I’m sorry to report that there’s no place for poetry in this battle.

      Not for now, at least.


© Copyright Mircea Pricăjan
Sursa :   Imagikon
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