Poets of Latvia: Marija Luīze Meļķe

Take note – story published 6 years and 4 months ago

The young poet and artist Marija Luīze Meļķa thinks it's important to reach her readers and listeners directly. She often reads to the public, and does it eloquently. When you hear her voice, it becomes clear why the place is packed with eager listeners. Her poems are not only amusing and intuitive--their intimacy is disarming. Listening to her perform, you want her self-assurance to overcome you and fill you. You want to become a little more like her. 

You can hear Marija read her poem in the original language at the Latvian Radio website. A translation is provided below. 


How many times can you say ‘R’?
Yesterday, I bruised my elbow bad. Still feels weird today. The way people are aligned in a space invites all sorts of suffering. It’s strange how you can have no intuition about the distance to the wall when taking your shirt off.
How many times can I say ‘R’?
How many times can you say ‘R’?
Try singing ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ using just ‘R’.
I fail.
Now try it like they do techno.
What’s that like?
You take some speed and rave it up to a quite monotonous tune. Like, a portal has opened inside your head and that same monotonous music is coming in through it, and it feels real good.
And for how long do you do that?
In Berlin, up to three days, but in Riga usually until five a.m.
How many times can I say, ‘R’?
How many times can you say, ‘R’?
R R R R R R R R (…)
None, I guess. I think I’ll pass on the techno thing.
Is now really the time to call a taxi? Do cabbies take a cab back home?
Who was the first to use their arm to write something down? What was it?
Have you ever been entirely without fear? How many times?

The poet speaks

There's a movie by Jean-Luc Godard, Une femme est une femme. There's a scene in there where a guy makes fun of a girl for mispronouncing the letter 'R'. For some reason it has stuck with me. It's not like the reader or listener should understand that it's a reference to Godard's film. It's rather for myself, to make the text coherent. It helps me that there's this uniting point, the letter 'R'. 

And then there's that what's still happening, just like in the 90s. It's techno music, which I find to be a very interesting facet of our local cultural life.

Kevin Goldsmith, in his Uncreative Writing, talks about that, what with the advent of the internet, people have started to perceive texts very differently. In order to sidestep this problem, posed by the fact that the meaning of the written word has changed, you have to use the spoken word, which is is irreplaceable. 

The way I see it is that when there are several people inside a single room, it's already magical. 


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