- July 2, 2012
“Nowa Awangarda Wileńska” wants to reinvigorate poetry in Wilno
A new tome of poetry by Marzena Mackojć, the leader of a group of poets from Wilno, will soon be published… in Bulgarian, since the language of poetry is a universal one. ‘I do not know what the title will be, since I don’t know Bulgarian at all. They promised to send me several copies by mail,’ the informal leader of “Nowa Awangarda Wileńska” (New Vilinusian Avant-garde) group.
“Nowa Awangarda Wileńska” is a group gathering several young poets from Wilno district. The group is not a closed circle, and its members stress that they look forward to meeting new faces. Most members of NAW have met each other during various poetry festivals and declamation contest. At first there were ca. 10 members. Some of them have left, however, and a group of five or six poets has remained. Plus fans. ‘I don’t know if they can even be called that. They are our friends and fans of sung poetry,’ Marzena Mackojć is laughing as she says that. Together with the poets there are also people graphical design, editing and administration.
Innovative approach to poetry
Last year in May, during the traditional Poetry Day in Wilno, they decided to operate as a group. ‘The hardest part was coming up with a name; since so much depends upon it. It’s not like there are going to be four members and people will remember us by our names. I came up with the name and Tomasz (Tamosziunas – ed.) had to explain why do we call ourselves that. On the other hand, Kaplewski had said that avant-garde has to be something new. A mix of different styles, not a newly created one. There are representatives of Romanticism and those more interested in history. Our history is diverse in themes, and avant-garde is our way of accounting for it,’ said Marzena Mackojć explaining the origins of the name.
According to Daniel Krajczyński, another member of “Awangarda,” the name denotes their more innovative approach to poetry. ‘We have different styles. Different ideas in our heads. This could widen not so much the numbers of poets, as those of readers. As far as I know, not many people read poetry. I have few friends who look forward to reading my work.Others know that I write poems but their attitude is more “you write poems, good for you,”’ Krajczyński told PL DELFI. ‘Our goal is to revitalize the poetry in and around Wilno. We are not the kinds of classics that existed here before. This does not mean that poetry is dead. There are good poets – many of them – but we have to prepare the next generation,’ added Marzena Mackojć.
‘I’d met other members of “Awangarda” before and last year it was suggested that we form the association ; thus I became one of the founding members of NAW,” recounts Dariusz Kaplewski for PL DELFI. ‘I joined “Awangarda Wileńska” a year ago when I participated in a contest organized by Polish Writers’ Association (Stowarzyszenie Literatów Polskich) called “Głos mają młodzi” (The young have the voice), and Marzena suggested that us, young people with goals, dreams, and ambitions should organize ourselves in order to better express ourselves,’ Katarzyna Pieczuro, the youngest member of the group, confessed to PL DELFI.
The young poets found a supporter in Aleksander Sokołowski, the most famous poet from Wilno and the head of Republican Association of Polish Writers, who immediately took them under his wing. ‘They operate next to the association. We consult each other constantly. Together we plan events and joint trips, for example to Poland. More important, however, is creative cooperation. They are also very self-sufficient,’ Aleksander Sokołowski commented in an interview for PL DELFI.
Sokołowski also thinks quite highly of the name which, in his opinion, reflects the approach young poets have towards the art. ‘I like the name a lot. They were the ones who called themselves “Awangarda” and we approved it. Everything about them speaks of modernity. They have a very modern vision of the world.’
Raising stars of Polish poetry in Wilno
Members of “Awangarda” found their way to poetry the way many young poets do: first they wrote for themselves, then earned their stripes in various interschool and regional contests, until the time came for more serious things. For many, the first step was World Poetry Day, co-organized in Wilno by Aleksander Nawrocki, editor-in-chief of “Poezja Dzisia” (Poetry Today) magazine.
‘Somebody told me there was such a thing and that I should try, since they knew I was writing something or ther. So I tried last year,’ recounts Daniel Krajczyński.
Katarzyna Pieczuro became a poet “owing to” to her maths teacher who had asked her to draw something about maths. The poet herself admits she can’t draw at all, so she wrote a poem instead. ‘Afterwards there came praise from the parents, admiration of the teachers, and the support to keep me writing further.’
‘I wrote my poems as best as I could, and mostly how I felt. Obviously I knew nothing about how to properly structure a poem, and it wasn’t until Henryk Mażul, a poet, gave me several pointers how to write. Somewhat wiser, I began to have an inkling as to how a poem should look like, so since 2012 I can call myself a young poet,’ stated Katarzyna Pieczuro. ‘I tested myself in various poetry contest, not just in Lithuania but also abroad, including Kraków,’ recounts another member of the group Tomasz Tamosziunas.
According to the young poets it is not difficult to reach new readers in the present-day globalized world. All it takes is talent and a little luck. ‘The World Poetry Day was the first step. After that Mr Aleksander Nawrocki invited us to visit him. Every year he organises a Slavic poetry festival in Warsaw. For some, their road ends here. But if the poetry raises interest, you can be invited somewhere further,’ says Marzena Mackojć.
In spite of her young age, Marzena Mackojć already has already participated in and won numerous poetry contests. She has also published a tome of poetry “Pytasz kim jestem…” (You ask who I am…) and numerous publications in literary magazines from Poland, Russia, and… Bulgaria. This year her first tome of poetry will be published in Bulgaria. She was also invited to a poetry festival in Belgrade. ‘… she is the rising star of poetry in Wilno. She was the first one to break way from th 19th century tradition when it comes to language conventions and she uses contemporary language in a concise, convincing way. Her poems are short, powerful commentaries on the modern world,’ described her works Aleksander Nawrocki
Meanwhile, Russian poet Siergiej Głowiuk wrote that what makes the poetry of Marzena Mackojć stand out is its earnestness. ‘What immediately took me aback in Mackojć’s poetry is the earnestness, its individuality and original style, something not even many greats develop (and after all the beginners frequently imitate the greats). It shows a great talent,’ the Russian poet wrote in the literary magazine “Из Века в Век.”
‘Taking my sister’s poetry as an example, it goes hand in hand with the modern world, with modern technologies. There is something in it that has been neglected before,’ the twin sister of Marzena Mackojć, Agnieszka reflected in an interview with PL DELFI. Agnieszka is also the member of the group and she is usually the first person to read and review her sister’s work.
Marzena admits that she sometimes sends the poems to her sister via SMS and only afterwards knocks on the door of her sister’s room. Writing by night is rather common among the members of “Nowa Awangarda Wileńska.”’I usually write at night and alone. This is when inspiration arrives all by itself. I’m inspired by poetry, history, nature, paintings, evenings, and poetry meetings. Various poets from Wilno, commenting and criticizing my poems, have their influence as well,’ says Dariusz Kaplewski.
Other members of “Awangarda” also can boast numeorus successes. ‘My poems have been published in Polish-language Lithuanian press, in “Tygodnik Wielńszczyzny” and “Kurier Wileński,” as well as in Polish – in “Poezja dzisiaj” and “Nad Odrą,”’ said Tomasz Tamoszjunas. Members of “Nowa Awangarda Wileńska” cooperate with young Lithuanian poets, recently for example as a part of famous poetry festival “ Poezijos pavasaris” (The Spring of Poetry). They personally translate their poems into Lithuanian. They think that poems written by “Awangarda” have a different view on things compared to their Lithuanian colleagues. Marzena Mackojć thinks they are less brutal.
Poetry above all
To promote poetry “Awangarda” along with Polish Writer’s Association organizes meetings with schoolchildren which according to them are very beneficial. ‘At first they sit astounded. Everyone expects a poet to be a gentleman advanced in years. And here come young people, only several years older. Then they start viewing the whole thing differently. Then we introduce “Awangarda” and read our own poems. Some of them kind of stick,’ says Marzena Mackojć. There are often discussions among the pupils. ‘It’s hard to say what the reception is really like but it seems to me that it’s overall favourable,’ summed up the meetings Daniel Krajczyński.
The group has already organized several events including an evening of sung poetry, or an evening devoted to the memory of Sławomir Wołotyński, a poet from Wilno. Their first standalone event was “Wieczór Króla Ducha” devoted to Juliusz Słowacki. ‘We wanted to go to the cemetery but we didn’t manage it. Perhaps this year we will be able to,’ admitted Mackojć. A second edition of the event is planned for this autumn. An anthology of young poets is also slated to be published this year.
Young poets – drawing their inspiration numerous and varied sources, such as Wisława Szymborska, ks. Jan Twardowski or Stefan Jurkowski – unequivocally state that what is most important for them is poetry, rather tan an image of a poet. Unfortunately I have no image as a poet. My poetry is my own, so to say. Meaning that I do not refer to any poet in particular, I represent the “Awangarda,’ says Dariusz Kaplewski. To the members of the group content substance is more important than style. ‘I write about many things. Uusually the values that dominate my work are the ones that should be most important to any person, namely God, religion, love, and nature. I already have 300 poems to my name,’ said Katarzyna Pieczuro.
The members of “Awangarda” are rather ambivalent about the poetry concerned with politics or similar issues. ‘Mostly I do not address politics in my poems. Policies change, governments change, the poem remains and it only loses relevance. It does not mean that politically conscious poetry is worse, it simply loses its flavour over time,’ explains Daniel Krajczyński. He thinks of himself as a part of Romantic movement within “Awangarda.” He admires Russian poets, such as Lermontow or Jesienin. His first attempts at poetry were written in Russian. ‘I think we are permanently surrounded by Russian TV and press, and this is where the popularity of Russian language comes from,’ Krajczyńslo told PL DELFI.
Aleksander Sokołowski, patron of the group, is in favour of such an approach. He thinks that a poet should be down to earth and have a good job. ‘In most cases, poets currently publish their work at their own expense. In order to have “their own expense” they need a good job. After that you will either sell something or give it away,’ explained Sokołow.
Tłumaczenie Andrzej Rola w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Andrzej Rola within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.