Klub Literacki RUBIKON
Klub Literacki RUBIKON

Biting into the language. Crumbing words and expressions. - Interview with Bartosz Czarnotta (Translation: Agnieszka Depta)



It's just a sentence from your poems: biting into language.

You have released the poetry books: "Blind Windows" and "Form Farm". From the first one it was evident that you were interested in linguistic poetry, but "Form Farm" seems to be a special kind of linguistic experiment. To what extent are your poems thought out, or to what extent is it a wordplay of associations that come from the subconscious?


It depends on how you think of the language, what do you think it is and how it is thought, what the words are, how you can suit certain patterns, and what conclusions can be drawn from it. If we assume that the whole language, no matter what form: speach or internet entry wherever on the social networking site, is a form of a game, bumbing or crumbing the words together and thereby producing new meanings, new important things, in that sense they are thought out.


But associations seem to play some role?


Yes Yes. I pass over the fact, that supposedly when you read my earlier poems they seem so rigid, too intellectual ...


I liked them.


This is not a rebuke to my own poems. It is just a little different style. Some time ago I realised that I prefer to prompt a poem and leave the reaction of a kind of laughter in people, such a surprise, as those with fish or chickens, or with Jesus, etc., than to leave people asking question what? ...what?... When there is a reaction of people, there is also a communication with the public. I will not say that I care very much about what people, who have absolutely no contact with literature, think of my poems. However, it is nice to have interaction, non -poetical, non-literary, from some audience there.


I have the impression that a kind of manual would be useful to the book "Form Farm". When I show it to people, they do not understand this poetry and reject it as something too ambitious for them. When I explain them that this can be treated as a poetic game and they should try to play themselves, they suddenly have a lot of fun and enjoy the book. Do you think that not only the form of poetry is important, but also the way of its presentation to the public?


Yes Yes. This is sometimes fundamental. A poem does not have to be some sort of regulated poetic form on paper or computer. A poem can be a crossing of one woman to the other side of the street and fleeting contact with another woman. If only it was so unique that it could be called poetry. As long as you have cities and the cities are inhabited by people, so they are inhabited not only by them, but also by words. This is not a kind of an ardent talk of an exalted poet, but it is a fact. As much population there is in a city or in a country, as many billion times more words there are, that these people are generating.


Is "Form Farm" a sort of manifesto against today's reality, so much focused on productivity, reproducible products, duplication of news and feedback?


It really has to be something of this kind, because "Form Farm" was created in such a way that for about more or less two months I have regularly watched news on TV channel "Polsat" and every new edition of the news gave me the motive to subsequent poems. I wanted to use this "media chaff" against itself.


Your poetry flows directly from the language, and at the same time shows the language limitations in communication. Your second passion, beyond poetry, may be more important, is the cinema of India. I can hardly imagine translating your poems into another language, it would be very difficult for the translator. The picture is something that can be understood no matter what language one speaks. When, apart from passion for poetry, a passion for movie appeared? Was it related to the limitation of word?


Cinema helped me get through a hard time in life, it was more about that than about limitation of anything.


So it was more about life?




But was not it, that in order to overcome the tough period, poetry turned out to be insufficient and the film eventually helped here?


In part, because I was studying then. For the first two or three years of study, I did not write much, and just when I stopped studying it "hit the ground running" and unblocked. That's why I have an attitude towards studies on my own, quite reluctant. Studying is the formation of a man not as he wants to be formed.


Your poems are very laconic, and your movie reviews are completely different. Do you reveal a different side of your nature in them?


I partly agree, because most of my reviews are in English. For it is the cinema of India, I am getting to know it through English. In general, I have a problem with a whole range of movie terminology which is original to me in English but not in Polish. Never in my life have I written such a typical review in Polish, always in English. With my pietism to the language it is quite unpleasant. My attitude towards English is paradoxical, because on the one hand without language I would not be able to get around, and on the other hand I hate it. I've been told all the time that if I learned English better I would like it, but that's not true either. Unless we talk about poetic reviews written in Polish, but there is no film terminology. There are a number of movie terms that I can not translate into Polish. In Indian movie jargon, "story" is something else that "script". These are the subtleties that one would have to think about. In the south of India, when a director comes to an actor, and proposes a role in the film, he must first tell the story in detail, almost to play it. This is not the case in the west, in the west there is a script, and in the south of India there is the story adaptation first, later the script, sometimes not, but usually it is like this and only then they start to make a movie.


In your life, a wonderful thing happened, you managed to realize one of your dreams and met the stars of Indian cinema, you were invited to India and you had the opportunity to get in touch directly with what you had read about. How did you realize this dream and what Indian artists did you know?


We went to India in December 2015, thanks to the support of the sponsors, including the Świdnica municipality and several entrepreneurs from Świdnica, and the second trip was already "on our own" and it was in January this year. As for the artists I've been fortunate to meet, I met twice Kerala's icon, one of the the biggest stars of Malayalam cinema, Mohanlal himself. If I try to count how many famous personalities of Indian Film Inustry I was able to get to know, there will be about ten people. In addition, with some of them I was able to talk on the phone. I feel like I'm part of the film industry there. Thanks to the Internet I am here, and I interact and I am recognizable there.


But I meant the very beginning. Many people are fans of something and there is nothing that goes after it. Did someone notice you, wrote you an email after reading your text, or did you contact someone?


All that happenned thanks to Facebook properly. For almost two years, consistently from 2013 to 2015 I commented on the posts of various celebrities at their official Facebook profiles. I commented, commented, commented, and eventually got noticed. Vinod V Nair from "Reporter TV" made material about me and the things moved on.


What impressed you the most on these meetings?


The superstar Mohanlal is on the one hand a very straightforward man, and on the other hand, I suspect that he must be such an enigma for himself. In part perhaps he does not understand himself, just like every great artist does not either. In his personality there are both mixed; a genuine, sincere child and a cold-blooded businessman. When it comes to this film industry of Kerala as a whole, Mollywood, because it's not Bollywood after all, it's weird. Because it is on the one hand an industry that is very small, familiar, where everyone knows each other or has heard about them, and on the other hand, it is a very resilient, very original industry, which has much greater potential than a few years ago. Thanks to the fact that they have lots of fresh minds and talents and a very realistic approach to filmmaking, they have produced films that are much more enjoyable to European audiences. It is much easier for me to imagine a Pole who goes to the cinema for a Kerala film and wants to watch more of this type of film, than a Pole who goes for a Bollywood movie and seduced by its glitter and richness wants to continue watching. Intuition tells me that Pole would be more engaged in Mollywood.


What surprised you most in India?


In Kerala? I only was there. First of all, the Keralites have such a specific, very southern approach to time. In Kerala, if someone says that they will be there at a certain hour, you can calmly deduce that they will be there two or three hours later. You need to clash this European punctuality with a south-Indian free approach. It is said, that when you are bound with some place, in such a deeper way, it begins to annoy you as well. I suspect that this is what I am feeling right now. At the same time I am very connected and I am annoyed too, but in a very eastern sense, paradoxical.


Indian cinema is often filled with colors, music, dance. Are the people you met there equally colorful?


This saturation with dance and color is characteristic for Boollywood, not necessarily for the cinema of the south of India. This latter cinema is much more vital, realistic, more embedded in normal reality. It raises very human issues. Portraying such personal relationships works out very convincingly there. A few films that were big hits this and last year fit into this scheme of realistic cinema. Not only Kerala but also Tamil Nadu, as Tamil Nadu borders with Kerala. It is similar to Poland and Czech Republic, these two countries are quite culturally similar, and people have similar sensitivity when it comes to showing anything on screen.


Concerning the way people are shown in movies, are there people like these? I mean mentality.


If you take some well-done, realistic film, that's probably yes, because I've heard a couple of times about different movies of that kind such opinion: „ we live like that, it looks like that, somewhere in the Kerala countryside the ordinary people live like that. If you watch a series of such films, you can quite easily get into the way of thinking of the average Keralite or Tamil.


Have you experienced any adventure during your journey through this country?


Kerala is a well developed Indian state and it is quite prosperous. It is one of the few regions in the world where Communist Party is a part of local politics. There are plenty of Che Guevars, Fidels, sickles and hammers. When Fidel Castro died there were a great sorrow in Kerala for this reason. For most Poles it can be shocking, but in their understanding the communism is associated with democracy, progress, secularity and equality. Communism is associated with all of these. And with religiosity. The first time we met with the Cardinal and the second - with Archbishop Trivandrum. The young people there are going to church and to the communist youth at the same time, and if you ask them whether they see a contradiction between one and another, they would aswer that they do not. They are incredibly religious. It was an adventure to be there and to experience it all.


How do the people of this country perceive you or ask you about Poland?


The Indian approach to geography is wonderful, because they have already confused me with the Dutch, the Russian, the Scot, the American, the British, and God knows who else. Oh, yet with the Spaniard for example. They ask about Poland, because there was once such a classic political satire; "Sandeshsam", from 1991. There is a famous scene, where two brothers get into a quarrel, one is a communist and the other is an anti-communist. The film was shot at the time the Berlin Wall fell. One of the brothers who was anti-Communist asked, "What about Poland, Solidarity, Walesa?" The other responded: "Do not mention Poland to me". This is a very important dialogue. I do not know how many times this dialogue I heard. Contrary to appearances, there are quite strong links between Poland and Kerala.


In fact, you do so much traveling, now for example you are going to Geneva, you can also be called a traveler, more than a poet or reviewer who only watches movies and reads about them. Have you thought about writing down what you experienced in India in the form of a publication?


Yes, I thought about it. For some time, Radek Wiśniewski has offered me to do something like this. I hope that it will work out one day. When I told about this to my friend from Kerala, they were very excited about it. This book translated in English would be very useful.


Would it be published in Poland?


In Poland and in Kerala.


And so we went back to literature. Your poems are very short, in fact nobody can imagine anything shorter. However, I came up with something short, from that cultural area: the mantra. By shortening your verses you may be looking for that one proper syllable or word and your poetry will not be so distant from your other interests?


Well, maybe. I do not know whether you have ever wondered that, at least in two great religions: in Christianity and Islam, at the beginning of important religious texts there is some reference to language. In the Bible you have: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word." And in the Koran you have: „Recite in the Name of Your Lord Who Create". And here you have about a word and there you have about a word. There is a movie with Richard Gere, " Bee Season". He plays a linguist of Jewish origin who specializes in kabbalah. His daughter prepares for the competition and he slowly implements her into the secrets of the language and shows her how powerful the language is. I think there is something to know, in the sense that there is some very deep relationship between language or some words, and religion on a higher level. But not any determined religion as Christianity or else but the spirituality in the general sense. There is something very important in such seemingly insignificant words clusters and who knows maybe, language is something the most powerful that has ever existed, because everything is expressed in language and through language.


On July 5, 2007, Swidnica

Author: Maja Hypki-Grabowska

Translation: Agnieszka Depta

autor: Maja Hypki-Grabowska
ostatnia modyfikacja: 2017-07-23

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