Poets of Latvia: Raimonds Ķirķis

Take note – story published 5 years ago

This is the first installment of LSM's week-long poetry festival showcasing modern Latvian poets which will be running on Latvian Radio as well as here on the LSM portal. Each day we will be speaking with a different poet and hearing them read their work.

Speaking with the poet Raimonds Ķirķis, all sorts of thoughts run through your head. What's happening behind the dark brown hair, and the clear blue eyes at times assuming an immeasurable distance? Maybe the answer's to be found in the writings of this young poet, budding literary critic and translator. 

Raimonds read LSM a poem that's part of a larger whole he wrote for the Punctum Festival which took place last year:


Like a thief, anxious of whether his catch won’t be too vulgar, I went into the room to ascertain the circumstances of the event, the ones making me reread old writings, and inscriptions, destined for oblivion, on the monuments–these overly treacherous calendars lacking an endearing poise. Here, objects collecting dust take on a spatial tingle in fear of verbosity or a misleading phrase. Godly will become the  one who’ll systematize the atmospheric conditions. Here, the eyeless plunderer enjoys an unremitting pleasure.

Coming upon rhymes like branches that exude sap, and having just left an alien flesh, I found that my actions were wanting in randomness, and my intentions–ripping apart like old clothing, like a summary of the sacred scriptures employing only punctuation marks–had been as worn out as utterances subdued by the passive voice.

And the feelings, still brimming with desire like the soil for the spring rain, – feelings are just information notices someone has forgotten to tear down from the decrepit wooden fences, the utility poles, the bridge abutments and the eyes of passersby trying, like radars, to seize upon the location of faded-out memories; feelings are but attenuating circumstances when the examiner discovers an alien body diverged from the axis inside the structure.

The poet speaks:

One of the reasons, of how I think about why I wrote such a thing, was self-reflection. It was a look back, and I don't want to use the word 'meditation', as it's become sort of a New Age word, but something to that effect.

All the great modernists, despite how incomprehensible and twisted they may be, included a lot from their own selves in their writing. It's not like it's something far away from them, as if they'd have been like two separate personas, with their individuality different from them as poets. They simply came up with poetic means to encrypt themselves away. 

I find the so-called metamodernism interesting. It's quite a new phenomenon. What they find interesting is condensing the literary tradition and finding the middle path between different extremes. In a way, it's maybe a therapeutic stage after postmodernism. 

One of the qualities of your poems, aside from being beautiful, is that they seem difficult to interpret in a single way. I find this difficulty interesting. Is it important for you to feel a challenge when you read?

What I often try to do in my poems is writing in a syntax I've never seen used before.

Speaking about difficulty, I do not at any rate think that my poems are exceptionally hard to read. Rather, what I find difficult are texts that have no structure, where the readers has been left to fend for themselves. 

Is reading one of the impulses for writing? 

After each poem where I've come up with something for myself, I inevitably come across a book which makes me understand, in a way, that the things I've written about have already been handled or worked into writing, albeit in a different way.

Or maybe I discover that the way I had thought about writing was preposterous. 

Raimonds Ķirķis' poem 'V'
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You can also hear the original Latvian-language reading HERE.



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