Blesok no. 44, September-October, 2005
The Painful Shape of Truth
The first encounter I had with MTC Cronin’s poems was while I was preparing the Babylonia CD-ROM for publication, in April 2004. Tatjana Lukić approached me with the idea that MTC Cronin should be enlisted in Babylonia. Alas, the materials were already ready for replication and there was simply no time for the poems of Cronin to be translated and published in e-format. Nevertheless, Tatjana Lukić was persistent in the idea that Blesok should publish these poems. At the end of 2004 we received an official confirmation that the Australian Council for the Arts would participate in the publication of a book of new and selected poems by Cronin. In order to keep the Babylonian spirit, Tanja and I agreed on publishing the book in Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. That’s how it all started… Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of translation, Tatjana Lukić was forced – for reasons outside of her control – to quit the project. Every day since then I am deeply sorry for this. However, there is time before us and I am certain we will make more books together.
Meanwhile, I had translated some twenty of Cronin’s poems into Macedonian. The poems were complex, full with images, thoughts, syntagmas and metaphors that separated from each other and came back together – they seemed unlike any poems I had read and far from logic. For the first time in the fifteen years I have been translating, I was afraid that I would fail. So I sat down and started to read the poems over and over again. After some time, I realized that I am in some other surrounding, in a new mood, in fresh pictures that became completely logical and tightly connected. I am telling you this story as I wish to introduce you to MTC Cronin’s poetry slowly and carefully. These are not verses that should be read only once. It is a poetry that should be approached with cautious respect.
MTC Cronin is not inhibited in writing: maybe that is the reason why some lyrics might remind you of the automatic writing by the French surrealists. Cronin does not restrain herself from using words which are not particularly common for the canons of “belle lettres” (whatever that is supposed to mean!). She does not hold back to stigmatize, to curse, to shout. There is no life exclusively made of calm and kind words. We all shout, curse and swear, one way or another. Some of us do that honestly – the way Cronin writes her poetry. Each one of these 1699 verses in front of you is testimony to a constant quest for justice and truth:
For all the things I write
Even those which seem
To have no meaning
Somewhere inside me
(To What I Created, 2)
Verses sincere, clear, acquitting, painted over ‘God’s featureless landscape’, with firm strokes, by a steady hand. Patterns of behavior according to the established order of things, models that allow the conscience to be easily freed from the burden of guilt: Cronin does not subscribe to these. Ploughing the Soldiers, Tampa, The Constitution of Stars, The Law of Crimes, The Law of the Wound… – these are the proof. As she prescribes in one of her verses – ‘Describe it’. Cronin turns herself into the inscriber of all that passes through her in order that all of us might know, share, and conceive of the destiny of the world. To laugh at stupidities. To clench the fists when stupidity threatens to overcome us and become far from funny. As the wisdom of the heart sometimes may seem far from the mind, but yet, even then, is more true than what is served up to us as correct and right. This is the key for this poetry: in letting ourselves go within the abundant stream of the poet’s thoughts, in remembering and sharing, we may find the truth that lies in each and every one of us, no matter how painful it can sometimes be.
28 July 2005
Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
[from The Ridiculous Shape of Longing] | [order]