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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 67-68 | volume XII | July-October, 2009



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 67-68July-October, 2009

Digging out What is Live in Poetry

(Lidija Dimkovska: "pH Neutral for the Life and Death", Blesok, 2009)

p. 1
Goce Smilevski

“For those who are racked by melancholia, writing about it would have meaning only if writing sprang out of that very melancholia,”[1] writes Julia Kristeva at the very beginning of Black Sun. I believe if she were enquired about the meaning of poetic creation, Lidija Dimkovska would respond as follows: writing about poetry has meaning only if verses spring out of life experience. Each of her poems demonstrates and proves this claim, whereas those who are ars poetical emphasise it – for them life itself is worthy of living solely if it is – poetry. “Our life is in medias res – poetry[2],” says one of the lines in the poem “Lettre”, in her Bitten Nails (1998) collection. Today, eleven years later, in her new collection “pH Neutral for the Life and Death”, in “Ars-Poetica Ballad”, Dimkovska writes:
    To dig out what is live in my writing
    do I have to bury those living in the world,
    the worst of the dead are the best characters.
    but when my Gran says, ‘Child, don’t put us in a book,
    so folks won’t laugh at us,’
    I’m troubled by that angst of talent that gives birth to uniqueness
    and my fingers go numb before my eyes[3]
    The angst whether to write poetry stemming from life experience or not? is of Hamlet-like poignancy, for, within the framework of Dimkovska’s poetics, it means – whether to write at all. This is an issue which, on a poetic level, is identical to the choice between life and death at the level of existence – a choice between creating verses from life (that is, in the paraphrase of one of her lines: digging what is live in poetry), or a creative suicide. At the very beginning of The Myth of Sisyphus Albert Camus asserts that “[t]here is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide,” (Ками: 13)[4], and he reiterates this claim several times throughout this work. One who resorts to suicide, according to Camus, is the one who has dramatically confronted the absurdity of existence in the course of the quest for its meaning, the one who has felt “the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.” (15)[5]. This link between suicide and the quest for meaning finds its poetic expression in “National Soul” by Dimkovska:
    I too, like my brother, have been splitting hairs since


1. Julia Kristeva. Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia‎. Transl. Leon S. Roudiez. Columbia University Press: New York, 1989 (3). (transl. note) The English translations henceforth will be mine unless stated otherwise.
2. Translated by Zoran Ančevski. (transl. note)
3. Translated by Ljubica Arsovska and Margaret Reid. (transl. note)
4. Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays. Transl. Justin O’Brien. Vintage International: New York, 1955. (3) (transl. note)
5. Ibid (6) (transl. note)

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