:: Maintenant archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

Maintenant #98 – Volodymyr Bilyk published 20/02/2014

It was phase I – at first there were two Maidans. One on Independence Square – non-political scene. One on European Square – political scene. Then two Maidans were united. It happened on November 26. Big non-political Maidan full of hipsters lasted until the summit – then nothing happened. And then on November 29-30 night – violent dispersal happened. If this never happened – protesters would go home and the story would end but this attack changed everything. December 1 riots started Phase II – “this time it’s personal”.

In the 98th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Bilyk.

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Maintenant #97 – Tadeusz Różewicz published 24/05/2013

It was as if I had two different men living inside me then. One was full of admiration and respect for ‘fine’ arts – music, literature, poetry; the other was full of mistrust of all the arts. The site for this struggle inside me, between those two personae, was my poetic practice. I felt admiration, reverence, for works of art – the aesthetic experience replaced the religious experience – but at the same time I felt a growing disdain for those ‘aesthetic’ values. I felt something had ended forever – for me, for humanity – and it was something that religion or science or art hadn’t protected.

In the 97th interview of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler speaks to the legendary Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz.

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Maintenant #96 – George Szirtes published 07/05/2013

The poet is personal: the language is impersonal. Language is not a stable or static entity – it moves and crumbles and grows at the same time. The poet’s art lies in listening intently to the micro-movements of language while never forgetting the sense of the world as the pre-language – as instinct, apprehension, desire – that drove him or her to the threshold of language in the first place. Of course there are subjects and themes but that’s about as far as intention can go. As I see it is not a matter of wanting to say something, then finding the words to say it. You discover what you and the language have to say by entering the process of saying. The ethical power of poetry lies in its precise tension with language not in any broadly stated programme of doing good. The programme is advertisement. Technique, suggested Pound, is the test of sincerity. I think he was on to something.

In the 96th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Hungarian poet George Szirtes.

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48 & other poems published

on the ground, the black hand flapping
the brown hand spread as if to grasp
grasp what?    a paving slab   a street   a sweep
of air    then some cruddy music    and leaf
leaf flattens, is pressed    is what?   is the body
as flat as this as brittle as surrendered   to what?
and some you burn and watch fly   and this
is    what?  an analogy as the mind makes it
of war perhaps    which war? dare we answer? dare
the body be its own dialogue? dare the
long, shall we say? rain beat down on us
and our music    is that the music? that cruddy
music you make in your bones and teeth?

By George Szirtes.

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Maintenant #95 – Ivan Hristov published 08/01/2013

Modernism in Bulgaria contradicted the totalitarian doctrine known as “socialist realism.” Even though some scholars claim that socialist realism began as an avant garde offshoot of modernism, the two approaches conflict. This led to repression against many modernist writers by both extremely left-wing and extremely right-wing regimes. Modernism means “freedom” above all, followed by “individualism.” The first stage in Bulgarian modernism is called “individualism.” Freedom and individualism are the two things totalitarianism hates the most. Modernism was marginalised after the Second World War. During the 1960s, due to the partial liberalisation of the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria, some modernist writers were rehabilitated and interest in their work was revived. But true interest in modernism began at the end of the totalitarian epoch, when new postmodern literature used the foundation of modernism as its stepping stone.

In the 95th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Bulgarian poet Ivan Hristov.

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Poetry Room published

Then he asked me
how things were with us.
I told him
that our
Christianity
was more conservative
and more mystical,
and that we don’t
talk much
about our problems.
He was amazed.
I didn’t dare
tell him
that for 45 years
we didn’t have God at all

By Ivan Hristov.

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Maintenant #94 – Pierre Joris published 01/10/2012

My core sense here is to defeat the old chestnut of “inspiration” — a romantic reliance on the muse, whoever she, he or it is meant to be. I tell my students: poetry is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Thinking on this (& trying to find a way of putting it I haven’t already used, as this is something that comes up again & again) & not finding one immediately, I turn away from the work under hand & pick up a book— I’m writing this on the TGV between Paris and Bordeaux — the “light reading” I picked up in Paris yesterday after getting in from New York, this year’s Philippe Sollers’ “novel” called L’éclaircie, which I started reading into during the past night’s jet-lag insomnia hours, & this is what I immediately come across now, here, on the train: “Mallarmé tells how in the morning Manet would throw himself with fury upon his canvases, ‘as if he had never painted.’ A capital notation: one has never written anything, painted anything, composed anything, the spontaneous act belongs to the pure present, always new, without past.”

In the 94th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Luxembourger poet Pierre Joris.

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Notes on Solon & other poems published

“this is happening” she said
in the muddle purge
oratory. can
Ned, not I, in
fuse the middle
stand. ground. class.

a container trans-
parent sentences.

the two you. The to
you. The us of
things, the rex of
things no rex.
unqueened anorexia.

By Pierre Joris.

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Maintenant #93 – Charles Simic published 13/05/2012

When I’m writing, I’m as oblivious as a dog digging a hole in the ground with his paws. There may be a bone there or nothing at all, but while I’m doing it… that is all I know. After decades of reading and listening to debates about tradition versus avant-garde, I’m frankly bored. Good poetry has been written in all sorts of ways since the days of Rimbaud as everyone ought to admit. If someone can get away today by writing poems that sound like Byron or Emily Dickinson, poems that one can’t stop reading, let’s not worry about what the disciples of Gertrude Stein will say.

In the 93rd of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Serbian / American poet Charles Simic.

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Ghost Cinema published

And act like sweethearts
On a bare mattress laid out for their use
On a warehouse floor
Under the bright spotlights.

Standing afterwards
With their foreheads touching
As if about to be hung
By a single rope
From the high ceiling,

By Charles Simic.

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