- April 16, 2013
Venclova: Polish – Lithuanian problem is stupid and unfortunate
Distinguished Lithuanian poet, translator of literature and essayist Tomas Venclova said in an interview for ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ that Polish-Lithuanian conflict is exploited in both countries by various political forces. Poet also added that in his opinion the situation changes recently for the better.
„Polish-Lithuanian problem is stupid and unfortunate. There are mental stereotypes and anachronisms on both sides and, sadly they are very strong. And political forces exploit it and play mind games in both countries.” Venclova said.
Venclova thinks that each nation should first apologise for their own sins and offences. „So if you are Lithuanian – beat your Lithuanian breast and talk about your sins, and if you are Polish – beat your Polish breast. Only an attitude like that helps with solving problems and easing tensions. I try to write a lot about this matter. These days we are hoping that the deadlock will be broken soon, but how it will all end – we have no idea. There are strong political circles in both countries that would mind such an agreement.” Tomas Venclova pointed out.
Poet thinks that there will be different kind of mutual grievances but that they won’t have much of an impact on the reality. „But, thank God, they won’t cause an open war. In the European Union there are some mechanism preventing that to happen. I will repeat what I have written in the past: I personally find the antagonism between our nations enormously stupid. I would like to consider them overcome. We are in such an age that the problems of the past seem insignificant.” Venclova claims.
Lithuanian author believes that it is necessery to understand each other. „Either way, what we need during talks about our two countries, Poland and Lithuania, is delicacy and empathy – Polish person should try to understand a Lithuanian person, and the other way around. When I was talking to Miłosz about the different views on Poland and Lithuania – he saw both countries as Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, I considered them as two separate countries – despite our different opinions we have always treated each other with diplomatic manner. For example, when Miłosz was talking to me about the city of Vilnius, he always used the Lithuanian name. I, on the other hand, always used the Polish name Wilno.” Poet confessed.
Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian poet, essayist, scholar and translator of literature. Today he is considered a classic of Lithuanian literature. The writer was born in Klaipeda in 1937. He was associated with Lithuanian and Russian anti-Communist opposition since the young age. He was a member of Lithuanian Movement for Defense of Human and Civic Rights in the 1970’s, he also worked for ‘the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania’.
He lived in Vilnius until 1977. Then, he emmigrated to the USA threaten with repressions. Because of that, he was deprived of citizenship by USSR. At first, he lectured at University of California in Berkeley as a visiting professor. After moving to America, he became friends with Czesław Miłosz and Josif Brodski whom he met before. Venclova is associated with Polish culture and literature. Since 1983, he is a part of editorial staff of quarterly magazine ‘Literary Notebooks’ (Zeszyty Literackie). He also translated Polish poetry into Lithuanian.
Tłumaczenie Justyna Kaczmarek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Justyna Kaczmarek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.