When all scores will be settled ...

Alexander Sakva, theater and literary critic, Kiev, 1998, a review article on the work of Alexander Korotko

Alexander Sakva

Entry into the poetry of Alexander Korotko sometimes difficult. As you know, the difficulty in mastering an artistic text is a prerequisite for a whole series of various figures of Russian culture from Velimir Khlebnikov to Andrei Tarkovsky. You can rely only on what is resisting. What is given easily, often goes in vain, like an untimely rain. Sometimes to think about - you have to stumble.

The poetic tongue-tie is a special kind of it. Its imaginary discomfort is productive. An occasion is necessary for a new view, the art form often becomes an occasion. Overcoming a certain barrier of perception, the goal is more likely. The author's way is more definite, the way of thinking is closer. The reader "by the stamped traces" of the poet goes not blindly, he has a chance to repeat the structure of the embodied emotion-thought.

This is also "the case of Korotko." But what is characteristic - our poet has no rational, pre-test line for the difficulty. It arises unconsciously, because of the very nature of his talent, the characteristics of poetics. The image in poetry of Korotko - not the code, and not the cipher, as it seems to some interpreters. The error comes from the semantic compactness of his verse, the willful mutual support of the parts, suggestive of a conscious complication. It is not, but there is a mystery.

The birth of a verse is incomprehensible. The poet tells: "Poetry is always inside, like the chicks of feelings, not hatched from their own subconscious." Clarifies: "And somewhere there, in the impenetrable depths of despair, creating peace, as the early butterfly the lost word was wandering about." Finally, he is decided to recognize - poetry arises then, "when there is a wind at the bottom of understanding your own height and with sensitive ears touches the strings of being." Here it is significant that: Alexander Korotko has already published the third book of non-random verses, and his attitude to writing is still sacred: "the religion of the word." Is the poet too aware? From what "invisible... movements", "beyond the bottom of the mind," "behind the scenes of being" is the mystery of the origin of the line, to treat it differently. How the connecting seam between conscious culture and the unconscious in the psyche of personality passes, nobody knows, although it is difficult to reconcile with it. An attempt to put the process under the control of daylight causes a mild irony to Korotko: "The mind was mastering the crossing." After all, if it is true that life is the gradual disappearance of the staggering, then the poet is given a different way - in finding and indestructible accumulation of the incomprehensible in being. For the poet, "reality is created temporarily, for every day." And when such a reality is offered to the public, it is not always ready to accept it.
The withdrawal from consumer goods requires sacrifice. What does the poet to himself when he "closes" himself to write? He inevitably loses the general reader. Elite varieties are first cultivated in small areas, "zoning" occurs much later. The circle of adherents of such poetry can be called narrow, or elected, but the reputation of a poetic name for such a reader is immeasurably more stable, and recognition is hard-won. Such a reader is worth a lot; he is looked for, educated, and waited. He, in part, determines the poetic fate.

But let's return directly to Alexander Korotko and to the structure of his verse. First of all, let's notice the obvious: when reading these texts, the author's comment involuntarily arises, as far as they are "collisions within oneself." After all, it is far from easy work: to find the material word, corresponding to the intellectual. There is always a gap or even an abyss. The conjugation of these plans - Heracles labor, especially for the Korotko, which does not have synonyms, the Word must be the only one. As a result, the semantic condensation of his speech for our wont seems excessive, but for him it is natural. And at most, what can an unquenched reader expect, to a focus line in which the poet, like a physicist, collects the laser focus of his statement. This line-aphorism, this flash of open meaning with back light illuminates the obscurity of this or that poetic period, is detonating the universal meaning of the verse. Such "wandering", but frequency flickers of meaning - a notable feature of his writing, a bright identity of the author's style.

According to the type of artistic imagery, the poetry of Alexander Korotko is closer to the conceptual than to the sensual concreteness. This trait is neither convenient for the reader nor for the poet. The writer must include in his work his intimate world, because only there is genuine suffering, even in a transformed form, keeping the original excitement. And the translation of deeply intimate feelings into intelligible formulas is a tempting way, but dangerous for the plasticity of the verse. The work of finishing and distinctness here is sometimes not enough, insights are required. In this case, benefits taste, scale of personality and intuition as a pre-emptor of the whole.

When reading poetry, our obliging imagination is accustomed to perceive "pictures". Korotko has, "pictures" in plenty, and his "pictures" are nobles. For example: "The terrain index ... is spreading his arms limply ...", "A lone lantern looks into a lane's pocket ...", etc.

But more often his metaphors are borderline, they are located between the visible and the invisible, they require more intensive development: "... Listen to the way the rain is falling, like a commodity, with injuries loaded," "The innocent thoughts of the offended resembled a collapsed fence", "A verbal glance, praying about nothing, like a rug, wishing the deceased warmth "," Your saved soul goes to you from afar "," Foyer in a worn coat ... ", etc.

The poet cherishes the reader's understanding, counts on him, but he does not yield a single comma from the living composition of his poetry, because he understands: the artist speaks with the world with the help of the whole. He constantly strives for the completeness of the spiritualization of the material, avoiding a given reasoning. And if there is an inconsistency in perception, it is more a sense error than a calculation error. The nature of understanding is another matter ... The poet sees his limits soberly, his "illusory dust", but does not simplify himself. "The secret hasn't any repetition."

Complexity in Korotko is the bearer of content; the semantic infinity of his poetic ideal reflects recognition of the semantic infinity of life itself. And the "amble" of the language embodies the structure of the author's worldview.
The macrocosm and microcosm of our poet are pushed into each other, inter-projected, they are not only equipollent, but they are also balanced. The reconciled image - "The private life of universe" has its meaning for Korotko, he is ambivalent due to the author's burning interest in both of its components. Mutual penetration is peculiar to people. "Destiny in destiny" is an inescapable sense of the poet, a "secret norm" of a number of his works. The place of action of these poems is always the mode of action. This is the biblical constraint of "Noah's Ark", and the viscosity of "the darkness of the soul," the September transparency of the "seashelf of the universe," and the spicy, unexpected alarm of "the book of eternal love of the Kamasutra." The lack of one-dimensionality, the departure from the trivial one, is not the result of the presumed choice, but the organic impossibility to see and express the world outside its eternal mystery and canvas. The conductor does not pave the way; he either knows or foresees it, because even a stalker goes about asking Someone. But the poet is not only a medium of invisible elements; he is a thinking prisoner of his time. However, is he always a prisoner?

The funnel of time tightens swiftly. And we need a "stop shock" so that we separate the merging streams with a special poetic separator and imagine things like that: the historical time lasts, and this is the plot of the genus, and already there is "a small gap" in it - the nearest knee. And everything happens simultaneously, the vertical is hierarchical only in the analytic ray, in reality everything is totally, lives one in the other, taking all levels and sections clean. Countering the flow is not easy.

Rushing to the poet is both uncommon and unpleasant. I'm not talking about life. The poet Korotko, I would say, is not in a hurry existentially. His time does not flow straight-forward, "it's our past, and it’s always behind us." After all, we all "move only in one direction. And this direction is memory. " That's why - "There is no beginning anywhere and everywhere". The poet's unrulyness is a condition of kinship to oneself and the world, a pause of solitude is a prologue to collecting feelings. Consequently, only "those who do not know are in a hurry."

Very remarkable in the poetry of Alexander Korotko also is the nature of historical consciousness. For him there is no big time and small time - separately. "Time has grown with moss and turned into an impenetrable swamp of existence", "In the square of the 20th century there is a heart of stone. One for all. «What happens to time and to us? Nothing special. Everything is familiar. But as long as anywhere in the world, at least in one "theoretically irritated heart" there is the concept of "Pale of Settlement" - "Dead hand in the hand of the fortune-teller" and "One-eyed crow is guarding time". The only thing that comforts: the redemption of the eyelids.

At the end of the topic one more quote from Korotko. "At the other end of the planet, Genius died. I'm orphaned. " It is not difficult to see that in these words, not only an intimate admission, but an attempt to measure. As you know, the size of the human personality is largely determined by the scale of its requests and claims to life. For Alexander Korotko - "nothing is too much." He believes that if not the time chose him, then he chose the time. The cells were prolonged. "The truth ... forgives us. But she knows - her time will come. " "Is there really no Apocalypse?". The reverse for mankind already seems annoying ... "Still a little bit - and we would have the best pages of history."

The bitterness of the last line is self-identifying. In the memory of each nation, two black, sad, or even shameful, appear on one proud page. But the poet should not let himself be carried away by old myths or simple-minded illusions. Truth is imputed to him as the Gift of Providence.

Alexander Korotko does not insist on the national style of his works. But over time, the soil, mental layers in his poetry acquire the power of the Gulf Stream. "The city of red brides. A small, resilient wind at a single sitting drinks all the water from puddles ... "," This is a cross, and carry it to us in the Jewish night to those places where we were happy, like the first petitioner ".

The cycle "The City of Red Brides" is hidden from the sources, its nurturing, and temperamental passion of an open word: "Mother, I'm afraid. I've always been afraid. The present is more whimsical with every new day. «This will be silently repeated by a sensitive son on any continent. "There is always sympathy for trouble". But the sons grow up, gaining confidence and calm strength, and therefore defiantly and almost programmatically it sounds: "Black laughter from the threshold of my birth breathes me to the back of my head. Come, I've been waiting for you for a long time. You are from all mankind. And I'm from all of us; I accept congratulations for Babiy Yar, the ghetto, for everything that happened to us. "
Passionate for courage challenge paid stoic all-understanding, curbed by the threads of culture, but the Old Testament, timeless opposition retains all the menacing of its incompleteness.

At the poet's works you will not see such a sense of diffusion, poetic rubbish, and his poetic membrane resonates in the register of few, but persistently beckoning themes: Home, Love, Fate, and Death. Needless to say, they receive from Alexander Korotko remarkably original, unassailable solution. On a special position are the concepts of Destiny and Death, and taken coherently and meaningfully quite unexpectedly.
"From whom did you learn about your death?". Everything begins with the blow of Destiny. "Too early came the others ... It was the fifth time of the year." It is ugly and can last forever, monotonously reproducing "life is dreary ... without cases." The world of outsiders is overpopulated; the author's voice now and then breaks off other people's voices. "I have not lived for a long time, there are symbols and sounds." There is a state of despair in everything, when "the soul is gone, and death did not come ...". And - "there is no faith." Only - "bad blood." And no less evil infinity: "There's one less uncertainty, but with the advent of the new everything repeats itself." Finally, the apotheosis of hopelessness, the metaphor for death in life: "Guard duty is poor. A parrot lives in a dead cage. «In such conditions, the attempt at author's consolation does not seem convincing: "Do not be sad. We are all here on bird rights. «However, even small participation returns to life. "The lost is recognized again. His soul does not wait for advice. «This is the paradigm of living in the character of A. Korotko. What does "this unpretentious hero?"

Neather a little,or a lot - a man with a seal of defeat on his face. Not a fighter. Not the author of his fate. The poet endowed him with the best, and the most sorrowful in himself. "Wings are only for the defenseless, otherwise they would appear among us." What to do with him? This was answered by Herzen: "We are not doctors, we are pain."

However, there is an indirect answer. He is in a deafening discovery: "Time with the eyes of a moneylender." That's who steals the priceless. "Do not believe that when you cross over to the other side, everything will start again. We all live on the shore of only one river. An hour comes, and we immerse ourselves in its waters with great reluctance, and it always takes us away from those places where everything started so well. "

Yes, life without catharsis is dull. And the poet, without simplifying human nature, testifies: we are alien in this world and the shakiness of personal foundations makes us hopelessly vulnerable. But is this a reason for surrender? Maybe life sometimes glows so brightly that it's so hard to keep it? After all, it is grace, the main spiritual adventure of man, and the theme of death should not be stronger than the theme of love.

"The death, what is it? - it huddles anywhere, it is taken out of the dwellings .... "Again the poet finds his own tone and questions in the taken theme. How to reconcile with the inevitable? How not to touch the "box of fear", but to say with the simplicity of the chorale: "No, I'm not tired. I'm just going on the road. All my friends are in the past. Soon I'll call you. Will you come? "And continue almost beyond the line of understanding:" Life is not here. Wait. I will certainly find you. " And thus promise Salvation.


At the end of the topic one more quote from Korotko. "At the other end of the planet, Genius died. I'm orphaned. " It is not difficult to see that in these words, not only an intimate admission, but an attempt to measure. As you know, the size of the human personality is largely determined by the scale of its requests and claims to life. For Alexander Korotko - "nothing is too much." He believes that if not the time chose him, then he chose the time.

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