ABOUT TSVETAEVA’S POETRY AND ART CALVARY
The IGUMO held Days of Contemporary Art (DOCA) on April 22 and 23. This year’s theme of it was ‘muchworldfew’. Inga Farkhatova, a candidate of philological sciences, a professor, director of the Centre of Culture and Spiritual and Moral Development of the IGUMO, made a report about the works by Marina Tsvetaeva, a grand poet, within the framework of the DOCA program.
A journalist of the Eurasian Women’s Community had an interview with charming Inga Farkhatova and found out how to save the nation’s spirituality and why people should read over poems by Marina Tsvetaeva and remember Sergey Shnurov’s songs.
- Inga, how does lecture about Marina Tsvetaeva relate to ‘muchworldfew’, the DOCA’s name?
- I think that the whole Tsvetaeva’s biography proves that the world wasn’t enough for her. Any person who creates something tends to have little time or life. Creating doesn’t always mean writing poems, paintings or making music. A person who has a creative spark inside his or her soul creates things every day. I guess that we always have a lack of emotions we get. In my opinion, we should live like that.
- What do you think about the changes made in women’s poetry for the last one hundred years?
- I don’t think that there is men’s or women’s poetry at all. There is only true poetry or not poetry. Neither Akhmatova nor Tsvetaeva considered the word ‘poetess’ a suitable one. They used only the word ‘poet’. I never liked a ‘women’s poetry’ term myself. For example, can we say that Bella Akhmadulina is a women’s poet? She is just a poet. A grand one.
I think that whole poetry has changes because of time. Life became faster, new rhymes appeared. Yet, I think that true poetry will always remain. The issues poets mention in their works stay the same from one generation to another. A form may change, but the plot remains.
- One is always inspired by Tsvetaeva’s lexicon. One wants to imitate it. However, in our century with vocabulary full of ‘Internet’ and ‘website’ words, we consider it unsuitable. Can one write grand poems in times like these?
- Tsvetaeva’s poetry is completely modern. It’s no coincidence that singers use her poems as a basis for their works. There is a common language, a business language, and a language of poetry. These are the masks we wear. If we bring in an Internet language in our lives, we will probably lose such a treasure as the true Russian. I think that any changes should be timely. Yet, a true poet can insert an ‘Internet’ word in his works too. A big poet cares more about the meaning, not the words. It is only a question of a poem’s nerve, its presence or absence.
- Khodasevich thought that Tsvetaeva’s poetry aims to become a diary. Do you agree with that?
- Yes, I do. As you know, Tsvetaeva’s poetry is an absolutely intimate story. It is a reflection of her own stress and sufferings. Her most famous poems about love are almost always dedicated to a certain person. Yet, can you remember any poets whose poems aren’t an intimate diary? Actually, prose writer’s works also reflect their own selves. It is no coincidence that lyric is a narration about a soul’s feelings. Pushkin and Lermontov had the same attitude towards it.
- At the turn of the century people often feel the apocaleption of life. We can see it in the poetry of the Silver age. What do you think about the effect of the period between the XX and XXI centuries on our modern poetry?
- Every historical epoch is famous for something. The period between the XIX and XX centuries related to decadence philosophy and breakdown. Decadence features are completely obvious in our modern life. However, if we look at the legacy of Silver Age it’s difficult to believe that it is decadence. (Smiles.) Yet, it’s hard to decide whether our modern literature will be remembered in a century. For example, everybody knows Vera Polozkova now and I think that she is very talented but I can’t predict anything about her future art. I try to keep in touch with news in literature but I don’t have a favourite modern poet though.
Poetry isn’t demanded in Russia now. Unfortunately, we adopted a careless attitude towards the quality of literature works. Maybe it’s not related to the lack of talents, but the time itself, because we don’t pay much attention to literature nowadays. However, I know that it’ll change someday. As well as our body, a soul needs to recharge. I think that we’ll come to it soon.
- What is demanded now, if not literature? What kind of art would you call ‘an art of the first guild’?
- Maybe it’ll be a sad thing to say, but my answer is none. Unfortunately, we don’t pay much attention to the aesthetic side of education not only for ourselves, but the new generation too. Chasing the life and excitements, we forget about spirituality. Though we have huge queues to museums, which is impressive, we need to remember that they take place only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It isn’t a large amount of people, not to mention that many of them come to a museum only to say later that they were there, not to see the exhibitions. Here comes a great song about it by Sergey Shnurov.
We’ve spoken about the museums only, but literature is an imprinted story of our life. If we don’t know literature, we won’t know our past. A person without a past doesn’t have any future. He or she is like a tree without roots. Few adults understand that. Lately I was surprised when I found out that Yevgeny Yevtushenko was a lecturer at the university on petrochemicals in the USA. I asked myself: ‘How is it possible? There are thousands of people applying for courses of Russian literature at this institute on petrochemicals. What can we offer to that?’. I would imply courses of history of literature at all faculties to save our spirituality. It’s not because I’m some kind of fanatic, I just know that this is how we can keep it. I’m sure about that. For example, if we speak about the famous Tsarskoye Selo lyceum… We know that Pushkin was incredibly talented, but what can we say about his friends? They were meant to become civil servants and military men. What subjects did they study? They studied literature and poem writing. We can’t make it without these.
- Is poetry inspiration or drudgery?
- I think that there can be no talent if one doesn’t work hard for it. Actually, when someone says: ‘Oh, I just had these verses in my mind, I only wrote them on paper’, I think that he or she covers the truth. There is an art calvary. It is a hellish toil. I’m sure that you wrote verses some time ago. It can’t be that you didn’t. So you work, you manage to express everything, but suddenly you can’t think of a certain word. God, it is such a torture! You have everything but a single word. I think that poetry is a combination of inspiration and work. Any talent can be ruined if one doesn’t work hard.
- I often feel embarrassed when writing my verses. It’s like you write not for your contemporaries but for grand poets who died a long time ago, and you’re embarrassed in front of them.
- That’s not true. This is when we hide the truth. Every person who wrote something wants his contemporaries and descendants to value his or her works.
- It’s not true if we speak about Kafka, though.
- He hid the truth too! It is some kind of peacockery or a fear of disapproval. ‘What if you didn’t like my works? I didn’t write it for you only!’
I have verses too. Who doesn’t? Of course, I don’t show it to anybody but my close friends. Do you know why? It’s because I’m embarrassed. It seems like your works are silly and not needed at all in front of everything that has been done before. Here’s what I want to say. Firstly, if you don’t want to write, don’t do it. Secondly, I think that it’s normal. You should be extremely confident in your verses to say ‘these my poems, like precious wine, will have their time’. Tsvetaeva had such confidence. It is a feature of a true poet. If we are hesitating, we are not poets at all.
- Is it a poet’s special bravery?
- It’s comprehension. Why would Pushkin say such a thing? He knew the poetry so well that he could valuate himself. It is genius, he knew it. Tsvetaeva knew too. If we are embarrassed, it means that we can valuate ourselves and understand that we are not ready. It’s too early for us to act.
Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Irina Nikishina