- December 17, 2012
Rożanowski: Today Mickiewicz would post his poems on Facebook and write in Vilnius language. New photos of “…because it is fun with us” campaign.
“If one can put photos of naked women on the Internet, then why we cannot put poems there?” says the poet Jan Rożanowski. His debut volume was presented on Saturday (15th of December) during the Christmas Charity Campaign “…because it is fun with us.”
You had the opportunity to present your work to the ‘real’ audience during the charity campaign organized by “Pulaki z Wilni” on Saturday. What is your impression after the first public performance?
You have to ask the audience about it. The impressions are different. It was my first public performance. It took place in a pub and there was also a rock band. It was such a fun. I think it was great! Maybe after some time, when I have new ideas and texts, it will be possible to organize a similar event. I think it is a really good idea.
Can we hope for the second volume of your poetry?
It depends. Everything depends on how many people will buy this volume and what they will think about it. When people read something on the Internet, they quickly forget it. But when they read it on paper, they receive in a different way. I hope that the first volume is not the last one.
What about the idea of putting your poems on the Internet, where did it come from?
I thought: why not? If you can – sorry for the unfortunate analogy – put photos of naked women on the Internet, why you cannot put poems there. It is something normal. These poems are written in the Vilnius dialect. Writing poetry in a dialect is still something uncommon, especially in post-war period. Only before war there were such poems and now it is a continuation of prewar tradition. Thanks to me, maybe other poets will also decide to write poetry in the dialect. To be honest, I know some people who have already started writing in the Vilnius dialect and publish their work on the Internet.
There are people who claim that you distort Polish language. What do you think of it?
They should read these poems in the first place. It is normal that there are some russicisms or lithuanisms. If we compare the prewar Vilnius and Warsaw dialect, they turn out to be two different varieties of Polish. I think that inhabitants of Warsaw have distorted the language more than we have. Language is living and constantly changes. Unfortunately, this is not a written language, nobody publishes texts in this dialect. In my opinion, if “Kurier Wileński” was published in the dialect, much more people would read it. My neighbour who is a farmer says: “I can’t understand anything in this newspaper.” “Kurier” states that it would be even more difficult for him to understand my volume. We have to realize that the Polish intelligentsia living in the Eastern Borderlands, and also the younger generation, lives outside Poland. Whether we want it or not, we use the dialect when we talk with friends and neighbours. This is our reality.
You speak Polish very well but you write in Vilnius dialect. Which one is your everyday language?
I will tell you a joke which I have told to many people. Actually it is not a joke but a real life situation. Once I wrote a poem in Polish in a classic literary style. It was a poem for a girl. She read it and said that it was a very good poem but unreal. It was artificial. The Vilnius language has always been different than a literary language. Even those who came here from Mazovia, after a hundred or two hundred years started speaking in the Vilnius dialect. They also used russicisms. Obviously they did not use such words as “mabiłka” because there were no mobile phones at that time. But if there were mobile phones, they would certainly call it like that. Personally, I try not to use russicisms in my poetry. I use only these ones which are needed for the poem to be understood. If I write in a ‘pure’ Polish, no one will read it. People prefer to read something that includes words which they use on everyday basis. I think that speaking in this dialect is a form of resistance towards Lithuanization. “Pulaki z Wilni” are accused of distorting the Polish language. After all, it is still Polish. If people do not read “Pulaki z Wilni”, they will look for the entertainment on the Russian or Lithuanian blogs. They will become a part of Lithuanian or Russian culture and identity. I think that if there was the “Pulaki z Wilni” television, lots of people would watch it. Unfortunately, most of them today watch Russian television due to the lack of any other alternative.
Is it possible to enchant a woman with a poem in the 21st century? If I understood it right you started writing poems in order to attract girls’ attention.
I think I was not the only one. You probably did the same. I met a few people on the Internet who write poems too. But they just are afraid of publishing them. I gave example and I hope that it will encourage them to take similar steps. Is it possible to enchant the woman with a poem? I think it is up to a woman or a girl.
When did you start writing poems?
It is something natural to have an interest in poetry and write poems if you were born in Lithuania and has read Mickiewicz’s poems since childhood. I think I was in the fourth or fifth grade of secondary school when wrote the first poem. I tried to imitate other poets. Now I do not want to write like other poets. I do not even think of myself as a poet. I prefer calling myself an artist because the artist is a person who is free and does not commit himself only to one thing. The artist can write poetry today and write prose tomorrow or do other things. I think everyone tries to write poems. For me it became something important after a few years break. In the past I published my poems in the press. They were written in correct Polish at that time. However, later it had changed till “Pulaki z Wilni” appeared.
Does new technology – Internet, Facebook – help in promoting art? What is your attitude towards these technologies?
It is a question connected with a technical aspect. There is no one answer. Technology can both help and be harmful. It depends how you use it. I think that if there had been the Internet in Mickiewicz’s times, he would have posted his poems on Facebook and written in the Vilnius dialect…
Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Kurowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Kurowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.