Blesok no. 21, June-July, 2001
Macedonian Poetic Dialectics
Foreword to Anthology of Young Macedonian Poets
Jovica Tasevski - Eternijan
When analyzing the structural characteristics of this poetry one can easily discern that the lyrical subject is almost inevitably, explicitly present and exclusively active in the realm of meditation. However, the swift changes of the aspect regarding the subject matter create an illuminative effect in Madžirov’s poetry. At the same time, these characteristics are outlined by a communicative poetic discourse of a metonymic-narrative type.
The poetic output of Ivica Antevski has so far been appreciated for its wide thematic resourcefulness. The reflective element in his lyrical achievement stands as a priority, but it is placed in a symbiotic relationship with the aestheticised emotive tension. The ultimate effect of such poetic configuration is an emotionally impregnated thought.
It is common practice in Anteski’s poetry to modernize classical Greek mythology, i.e. to mythologize our time. This he obtains by inclusion of various fragments of our technological society in a well-known mythological framework.
The poetry of Ivica Antevski is characterized by unity of image and rhythm. It should also be noted that the imagery in his poetry is often engulfed by the unconscious flow of associations that are freely combined to give an ultimate effect of paradox. This poetic practice reveals an explicit and implicit intertextual relationship with surrealism.
Another element in the poetry of Ivica Antevski is his choice and use of words. One can say that his poetry is founded on a linguistic alloy composed by intellectual, technical and naturalistic elements, which the author skillfully and inventively blends together in order to create very original metaphorical constructions. The graphic experiments that the poet undertakes, the odd, unexpected line breaks, and the absence of punctuation also contribute to the semantic gravity of his poetry.
Among the dominant poetic principles that are put to work in the verse of Maja Apostoloska one can underline the principles of auto-referentiality and intertextuality. By stressing the fact that the poetry of Maja Apostoloska is characterized by auto-referentiality, one consequently reveals that she delves deep into the ground for her poetic endeavour and builds her lyrical concept and expression on solid foundations. At the same time, one can note that besides Apostoloska’s high fidelity to auto-referentiality, she also shows tendency and inclination to polemics that results in very intricate intellectual irony. Therefore, Maja Apostoloska’s poetry can be regarded as symbiosis between the intellectual and the creative.
Finally, when looking into the poetic work of Maja Apostoloska from the aspect of poetic ideas, motifs and themes, one should not avoid the fact that she largely uses metaphysics which, when combined with elements of ethics, acquire Biblical effect.
After analyzing the structure of Apostoloska’s poetic expression, it is clear that she possesses a very sharp sense for the use of language as a fundamental part of the poetic material. Her poetry is characterized by a high degree of figurative speech, i.e. by an extremely dense frequency of all kinds of stylistic figures. It is also important to underline that Apostoloska manages very successfully to give her linguistic discourse an aesthetic dimension although in the process of doing so she often uses scientific vocabulary. This can also be understood as a proof that the aesthetic dimension of Apostoloska’s lyrical messages is clearly outlined and that she can receive the epithet poeta doctus.
The poetry of Emil Kaleškovski presents its author as a very interesting, introverted but intense poet who possesses an exceptionally reach imagination. His specific sensibility, in correlation with his wide knowledge in old Hebraic mythology, leads Kaleškovski in the direction of creating a parodic attitude toward the Biblical themes. The ironical rendition of traditional values brings Kaleškovski’s poetry close to the realm of post-modern sensibility.
The poetic ideas and motifs in the lyrical achievement of Emil Kaleškovski enable us to detect this author’s endeavour to introduce the logic of the absurd by means of which he proves the existence of great distortion of the spiritual logic in reality. Kaleškovski’s seemingly infantile aspect of presentation of events underlies the antithetical placement of himself and reality.
It should also be noted that Kaleškovski’s poems are characterized by an emphasized narrative tone, which is again in accord with the most recent post-modernist tendencies in poetry. In addition, the semantic figuration of his verse is on a very high level, so its aesthetic quality exudes exactly from the abundant use of stylistic and semantic figures. The lyrical subject in the poetry of Emil Kaleškovski appears as both active and passive participant in the imaginary events, but very rarely as an implicit lyrical subject with descriptive function.
The poetic discourse of Violeta Bončanoska can be determined as rhetoric of colours and metamorphosis. Her lyrical achievement is characterized by very unusual imagery with symbolic contours. At the same time, the poetry of Violeta Bončanoska intertwines reality and dream, i.e. they are organically fused in her verse.
This, of course, is all in accord with the network of ideas and motifs in Bončanoska’s poetry, which corresponds with paganism or, to be more precise, with animism. The poems are full of absurd rituals during which objects become alive and animals and plants receive subjective, personal features.
From this and such Weltanschauung of Bončanoska’s is derived the esoteric orientation of her poetic expression. In the course of the creative process this poet mainly relies on metaphor and personification and does not try to avoid homophonic constructions. The lyrical subject is constantly and explicitly present in her poems.
The pivotal idea in Aleksandar Kirkovski’s poetry is the discrepancy within collectively determined entities. His lyrical achievement comprises various polemics in the field of culture where concepts are often undermined by daily pragmatism. This author, however, energetically discards the pressure put on him by his immediate and wider surrounding.
The poetry that results from such an effort is stylistically very heterogeneous. One can trace and classify the following types of poetic expression: a) metaphorical poetic discourse in which the lyrical subject is explicitly present; b) metonymical (narrative) poetic discourse which is also characterized by an explicit presence of the lyrical subject; c) disseminated text that leaves an impression of being redundant, associatively linked to the personal experience of the author (stored primarily in the unconscious), but where the lyrical subject predominantly appears in the role of a narrator; d) arbitrary lexical structures bearing onomatopoeic features or, to be more explicit, a Dadaist type of text written in a non-existent language (Witkatsi).
The creative process of Aleksandar Kirkovski includes a mannerist deconstruction of the semantic systems, i.e. an attempt to contaminate them with entropic sememes or, the poems (versified and verified results of that process), appear to be mere reflections of the current events. This allows the poet to adopt an ironic, and often a sarcastic attitude toward his surrounding and toward the events that happen to him and to others.
The scope and the radical character of the expressive and stylistic variety of Macedonian and international poetic experience do not prevent the youngest contemporary Macedonian poets to create an authentic lyrical expression. This fact makes us draw a conclusion that the seven authors presented in this selection, as bearers of the most inventive and most pregnant lyrical achievement, deserve wider recognition and presentation in a more comprehensive anthology of contemporary Macedonian poetry.
The two most significant thematic currents within the new poetic production in Macedonia that we can trace and isolate at the moment are the concern with the urban environment and the search for a transcendental outcome. It can be noted that the young Macedonian poets embrace an ironical attitude toward traditional values, often inspired by their dissatisfaction with the existing collective determinants. That is why these poets exhibit profound interest in mythology, both matriarchal and ancient Greek or Hebraic.
It can also be underlined that most of these poets have a seemingly infantile sensibility, characterized by narration imbued by a number of fantastic elements. This, of course, results in the creation of an unreal, extraordinary fable-like atmosphere. At the same time, this poetic procedure is not in collision with the explicit quality of reflectiveness in their verse, which is often manifested through auto-referentiality.
One of the most evident characteristics in the work of these poets is intertextuality, which can equally be found in both implicit and explicit form.
Almost all these authors possess a very refined sense for the use of language as basic poetic material. The lexical fund displayed in a number of poems is an alloy, a compound of intellectual, technical and naturalistic elements. These poets also show that they are capable of exploring and experimenting with semantic systems. This leads us to a generalization that the figurative value of their verse is on a very high level.
As for the types of poetic discourse embraced by the authors of this poetic generation one can conclude that there is not a dominant one and that they vary from author to author.
All this shows that the poetic tendency of the new poets in Macedonia manifests itself as an authentic literary mode, which deserves special attention both from the critics and from the readers.
Translated by: Zoran Ančevski
The impetus toward expansion of the spiritual horizon is a basic assumption of any poetic creation. In the light of this statement, the creative potential of young authors is primarily directed toward the reception of classical and current poetic forms in their poetic endeavour and, furthermore, toward their deconstruction. If the impulse of the poetic dialectics stops at one of these two phases, then the author did not manage to construct an authentic lyrical environment regarded as an essential contribution to the poetic fund as a whole. Or more precisely, if the process stops at the first phase, the young author will remain marginal and his work will be but a shadow of some other work. And if the process stops at the second phase, the author will become an anti-poet and his work will by no means be accepted as poetry. The only acceptable and therefore essential outcome of this dialectics can be the creation of poetic innovations with immanent spiritual zeal.
The recent poetic developments in the Republic of Macedonia have shown that most of the younger Macedonian poets have overcome the first two phases of poetic dialectics despite the fact that the Macedonian and the world poetic heritage have put an enormous pressure on them by means of their expressive and stylistic variety and scope. This is the main reason why the initiative to realize the project Anthology of Young Macedonian Poets must be understood and accepted. Consequently, the primary (literary) criterion for a poet to be included in this anthology was that he / she satisfied the principle of quality, i.e. that his / her poetry was actively probing the third phase of the poetic dialectics. The secondary criterion to be fulfilled was mostly chronological: the poet had to have a book published after 1995, i.e. to be active within the Macedonian poetic environment during the past five years and not to be older than thirty.
After a careful reading of the work that belonged to the most recent poetic publications in Macedonia there followed a stern selection and seven names of poets whose work carried innovative and pregnant lyrical achievement have been chosen to feature in this anthology: Natasha Bunteska, Nikola Madžirov, Ivica Anteski, Maja Apostoloska, Emil Kaleškovski, Violeta Bončanoska and Aleksandar Kirkovski. It should be noted that all of these authors, besides their earned presence in this representative selection of the most recent currents in contemporary Macedonian poetry, should also be represented in more comprehensive anthologies of Macedonian poetry, as the quality of their verse deserves more attention and allows such representation.
In order to be more perceptive of these poetic currents, the critical method must correspond to the lyrical innovations and become an appropriate evaluation of the work of the seven young Macedonian poets. Therefore we have decided to use an integral approach that enables us to elucidate the interior aspects of the aesthetic values of the poetry presented in this selection.
The poetry of Natasha Bunteska displays very subtle lyricism thematically preoccupied with femininity and divinity. The rendition of such subject matter is carried out through self-reflection built into the search for the transcendental. This is also evident in the fact that the poetry of Natasha Bunteska abounds with matriarchal mythological matrices.
Adequately, her poetic discourse, which approaches the fable or, to be more precise, the realm of the miraculous and the obscure, coincides with her motivational and thematic determination. Bunteska’s poetic narrative is interwoven with many fantastic elements, which create an effect of defamiliarisation and wonder.
Analyzing the intense imagery, one of the most impressive features of Bunteska’s poetry, one cannot help but underline its unusual structure. The lyrical expression of this poet, primarily by means of personification, imbues far-off events and phenomena with great immediacy and suddenness.
The poetry of Nikola Madžirov is characterized by urban thematic and it can be noted that this author has a Manichaean attitude towards the city.
In his poems Madžirov undertakes a vivisection of reality inspired by the urge to surpass material limitations. Pivotal in this work is the poet’s spiritual probing, i.e. his desire to reach new horizons. Parallel to this essential acumen of ideas and motifs in the poetry of Nikola Madžirov is the presence of an awareness of the transitory character of everything material in this world. Approaching it as homo ludens, he strips it bare and scrapes the tragic layer from it.