Poet Alexander Korotko: Empty-handed, tired of cares, I am like a warrior who fell and down the drain …

Mikhail Nazarenko

(is published in the reduction)

 In our excessively politicized time of total-teleserial mass deafening and monotonous-format show business, many are amazed, annoyed and even outraged by the fact that spiritual people have not yet died out. Moreover, they are still writing something and crying out to the high: do you know who needs it today? Who will buy their sublime creations?

The Kiev poet Alexander Korotko is one of those who have not yet extinguished the spark of poetry. The author of 14 books, a member of the Russian PEN club. Andrei Voznesensky called his poetry, translated into English, French, Hebrew, Greek, Ukrainian, Croatian and other languages, impressionistic.

And then Alexander Korotko published a book series entitled “Transcription of Thought”. This includes surprisingly diverse and different genre things: a book of miniatures “From A to Yafigizms”, a volume of lyrics “Silent Songs” with the attached disc of songs performed by Alexander Malinin, Philip Kirkorov, Joseph Kobzon, Tamara Gverdtsiteli, Taisiya Povaliy … Continues series of a collection of philosophical Poetry “I did not live on earth” complete with a disc of verses performed by Sergei Yursky to the music of Rachmaninov. And in conclusion – a dramatic poem on the biblical theme “Abraham and Isaac”, the plot of which is built in strict accordance with the text of the Torah, and the unique Jerusalem edition is decorated by Itela Mastbaum based on decorative miniatures in manuscript and first-printed Jewish books.

In the preface to the poem Abraham Abish Shor, the world-famous Kabbalist, writes that “like no other work, it is full of filial love and longing for our forefathers.” And Vitaly Korotich, preceded the “Silent Songs,” speaks of the “timelessness” of Alexander Korotko’s verses: “They could be read a hundred years ago and – I’m sure – will be interesting to re-read in the future. But at the same time, his poems are involved in our time, when everyone has to find their addresses in the universe. “

For an inexperienced reader, perhaps, the Korotko’s poems will seems too much difficult at first, but there will certainly be a line, a phrase, a verbal formula that will hook, touch, and stir the soul.

– Sasha, I open the collection “From A to Yafizisms” and read: “We got everything we did not want,” “Serving the people did not last long”, “The land did not give birth, the land treasured.” And this was written by a man who always claimed that he was absolutely far from politics …

– The way it is. But I stay inside the scene, live it, and it certainly cannot leave me careless. Our brains are dislocated by politics, and I would like to correct this dislocation. We live in an era of great disappointment. And if politicians gnaw, then people are also in conflict – a mirror image.

Everything happens in this world, as you know, not by accident. These are great tips from above, pushing for insight. In the depths of the people great suffering grows, the way out of it is only the way up, to light, to kindness. Should come some redemption, repentance. 


– “It’s never too late to make a fool of the people”, “If the people love someone, then for a little while.” Is it about someone specifically?

–No. It is like my general observations. In the work of creativity is very important affective memory, experience. Because if you just take pictures of life, it does not have artistic meaning. Pushkin, after listening to several chapters of the poem “Dead Souls,” exclaimed “God, how sad our Russia is! » Gogol was surprised: “This is my fiction, a caricature. And it turned out the soul truth».


– What did you mean when you were writing: “We are waiting for a schizophrenic wind of change”, “Unpleasant smell of change”?


– I simply view this as a process that has been so long that it falls under the clinical diagnosis of “sluggish schizophrenia.” I, by the way, continue to create “one-liners”, examples of which you brought.



– Why are you so enthusiastic by them?

– Time is very dynamic now. People do not want to watch smart films, read thick books, go to the theater – everything replaces the Internet. This is speed that I do not welcome – I know that poets should be read slowly. Therefore, “one-liners” – this is a reflection of the ongoing process. After the publication of the book “From A to Yafizhisms», more than three thousand phrases have been written.

– Can the one word be a poetry?

– In fact, a person, especially a poet, utters words not as we see it. He is inside the word and from there, from this cocoon, says. Moreover, this means that every word (especially two), when everything is built on a crazy dialectic of collisions, on paradoxes, can be poetic. It’s like a shot! It’s lika an exhale!

From the collection, “I did not live on earth”:


Бесноватое время. Посланники счастья незатейливой правдой вторгаются
в жизнь политически сытой, полунищей и полубогатой отчизны, отлученной
от здравого смысла, от основ бытия. Сколько надо ещё пережить войн,
погромов и голодоморов. Нескончаемый хор изможденных, убитых, 
униженных исторической страстью невзгод над страной в зазеркалье небес
молчаливые песни поет. Для кого? Неужели дано их услышать? 
Чуткий слух — это сердца тревога, неотступная память эпох, это боль, 
что живет у родного порога и которую мы не пускаем в свой дом.

– You call your book “I did not live on earth”. If you were only a poet, it would be justified …


– And today I am only engaged in creativity. You understand, any artist, as a rule, is naive. Moreover, in this naivete is the great secret truth of spiritual being.

Sometimes it seems to me that earthly life – the moment is so short that it even could hardly be fixed as a norm. Sometimes I think it is a dream. That I did not have any adult life. That I did not go to the big city of Odessa. I did not move to the Crimea, and thence to Kiev.

I will wake up and be back in my childhood. In Korosten, where I was born, in my own house. Again, I hear how the logs crack in the stove, as the cat that pushes at my feet purrs and heats them under the blanket. And a good-hearted grandmother will come …

In addition, when I say that “I did not live on Earth”, I mean that I live in the spiritual world, I know not only being, but first of all – non-existence. 

– “To live on earth as uninvited guest.” Again, the creative person will understand this, and the supervisor at the construction site will be stunned: “What kind of guest is this?”…

–  Oh! I often think about it. As higher is the poetry, as more the poet is called by God, as less he is understood, and as soon as he goes to the people in the Okhotny Ryad he immediately gets his fist in the face. Or a boot under the backside.

The poet is very concerned and upset that he is not read. But this is correct. Because his place is in silence, alone. In contemplation, in self-contemplation. He must live a completely different life, above all a spiritual order. This requires a huge work of the heart, the soul, which usually many are not ready to. It’s easier to watch “Smehopanorama” or some TV series. Listen to pop music “before the night.”

The poet has a fiery soul. He is called, in the words of Pushkin, “to burn the hearts of people with a verb”. As for the  supervisor , I know homeless people who have freedom of spirit. They say: “I have this choice.”

–And what about “stopping the beating of hearts”?

– It is very sad and hopeless to live only in the material world, if there is not this crazy energy called “spiritual life”. There is an inevitablity of devastation. The poet Khodasevich, living in France, has not written the last two years. He lamented: “I’m withered.” 

– What was the reason?

– Maybe he got bogged down financially. Was moving wrong from the spiritual point of view. Leo Tolstoy before his death took a staff not by accident too.


From the collection, “Silent songs”:

Уходящих следов предсказания,
многоточия миражи,
до свидания, до свидания,
я не вас, я себя пережил.
Мы еще не пришли, значит, мы не уходим,
на окраине ночи, в захолустье души,
постигая себя, я кричу что есть мочи
в самом центре вселенской глуши.

– Admit it; would you like to taste earthly glory?

– No, absolutely. This is the way to nowhere. Pushkin was the one who dreamed to taste the glory. And when he tasted, he said: “Where did I go? What did I strive for? “. There is nothing, a complete deception. And this is not coquetry. The more you glow, the less you write the right things. But these are your works which create you and change you. Have you seen at least one line from “I did not live on Earth”, full of some pathos? The word, if it is not suffered, will seal you to the pillory! I do not read from the stage, they do not applaud me, they do not carry flowers. And if they do, what will it change?

– “Another’s fame, like shoes are not in size, it’s very tight.” What is it?

– Envy! When a person does not find himself, he does not live his life. There was such an outstanding Rabbi Zusia. When he was already dying, he told his disciples: “When I go up to heaven, they will not ask me:” Why were you not Moses? They will ask me: “Why were you not Zusia?”. Each of us, coming into this life, carries a unique, single, special mission. This is happiness.

– Had you not be yourself?

– Many times in my life. This is the most terrible conflict. I am deeply convinced that if you do not live in harmony with your conscience, sooner or later you are dragged out by the forces of evil. What is a choice? He is one – between good and evil. Both that and another Lord has created. He created evil, so that, by overcoming it, you become kinder. One of the wise men said: “If I choose between the clever and the good, I will choose the good.” At the core lies only kindness, everything else is secondary, tertiary.

God just planted us at his desks and said: “Guys, I gave you the Commandments, do them. And I’ll give you a five; I’ll transfer to the next class. “It turns out that it is difficult to carry out. Khodasevich once said: “What are the 10 Commandments? Pah-pah – read in a minute. And when you start to perform – life is not enough. “

You conflict with yourself, then with the world around you. The question of happiness is the question of the balance of the internal state. Archimedes said: “Give me a point of support, and I will turn the whole world.” This point is found, it is! If you want to turn the world around and change it for the better, change yourself.

Loneliness is a cross-cutting theme of your creations. Is it unbearable?

– This is a test of your spiritual self-sufficiency. If your life is full, you will never be bored and unbearable. On the contrary!

When you are alone talking to yourself, the soul, like a well, is filled with clean water, which is constantly defended and does not go anywhere. And this is a dialogue, a confession. From this day begins, this ends. It is necessary to see what you did in a day. Did you lose one minute? What are these minutes? What are they made of?

Many of the things I came to are so simple and obvious that it’s not even clear why people do not see it. Therefore – only loneliness! Only in deep silence, sooner or later, something is revealed to you … The concentration of your inner attention is important. 

And you are not upset, that “did not know how friends, did not want the enemy to live in my neighborhood?”

– Of course they didn’t. It’s a conflict.

– What was their rejection from you?

– Mismatch, incompatibility, different attitudes. In my opinion, this is natural. It is important how to get out of this state, not aggravate. Do not approach, if you see some kind of aggressive environment.

– How many friends have you lost?

– I lost my friend Arkady Demidenko, the poem “Venice” is dedicated to him. God took Inna Pushkar, the composer I worked with.

– “Forgiving others everything is possible, but living from this is not easier.” Is it hard to forgive?

– Forgiving is necessary. Only through forgiveness it is possible to be in harmony with yourself. But you do not always cope: you assume such responsibility, but this pain is in yourself. That’s the problem. 

From the collection, “I did not live on earth”:

Несолоно хлебавши, уставший от забот,

я словно воин павший и пущенный в расход.

Лежу я бездыханно под небом тишины

и вижу, как ни странно, друзей смешные сны, 
где всё перемешалось — обиды и мечты,

и жизнь, такая малость, царица пустоты,

с присущей ей иронией несёт в своих ладонях 
потусторонний мир, где в мышеловке счастья

лежит вороний сыр.

– “The soul participates in a game, the name of which does not exist,” “until the end does not recognise the very mystery of the plot.” But there are books, the creators of which are thought out to heavenly secrets, to the meaning of being and non-being. Kabbalists, for example …

– Oh, how unclear! Kabbalah is a secret teaching, where there is a lot of coded information. Our sages prescribed that it cannot be studied alone: ​​one can go on the wrong path. Kabbalah is advised to study only from a certain age. In Judaism, there are books that can be read only after 50 years. It is said that the singer Madonna undertook the study of Kabbalah. It’s not even cynical and it’s not funny, it’s something obscene, smells cheap.

Unprepared in this teaching cannot go. Because the main thing in faith is not knowledge, but faith itself. What happened to Adam and Eve? They, having tasted from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, exchanged happiness for knowledge. And so they would live forever. Therefore, knowledge is a very dangerous thing. If people do not understand poetry, what can we say about some mysterious, esoteric things?

– “Ignorance,” as you wrote, “makes the heart glad” …

– Quite right! That is, I answered many questions for myself and for those who like it.

– And what does knowledge do with person?

– It is already said: “The multiplying knowledge multiplies sadness.” And the worst thing that is worse than sadness is boredom. This is categorically contraindicated for the believer and the spiritual. 


– Have you understood for yourself what is happening on Earth? What is the purpose of the Creator? Say in simple words…

– In the parables of Solomon it is said that one has to do only two things: to fear the Lord God and keep the Commandments. That’s the whole man. The Lord has conceived this world. There are many worlds, but they are all spiritual. And only our world is inferior, material. The soul in the sky “fools around”, does nothing. Here the Lord sends her on a business trip to the earth, settles in our body, that she works hard and tries to change the world for the better.

God wants to change a person so that you can transform this world and move on to eternal life.


–  But the person resists …

– Because it slips into the material, in the passion, into the animal instincts, wants to live only a carnal life. And at the end of the road he discovers that all this was vanity of vanities and a vain catch of the wind. He missed the main thing. The wrong program was started. Well, you can have 10 planes, 10 cars. And what to do with them? There’s nothing you can take there! Just as we feed and dress the body, we must constantly feed and dress the soul …



– What inspired you to write the poem “Abraham and Isaac”? Poem on this subject also was written by the winner of the Nobel Prize Joseph Brodsky …

– I was inspired only by the Torah, the Pentateuch of Moses, the Old Testament. Brodsky I also read. In my opinion, this is some digression from the Torah. I express only my judgment, without touching the ashes of Brodsky, to whom I treat with great piety.

I think that he received the Nobel Prize deservedly. Unlike me, who did not receive it. For me, it is no longer the goal. It was a joke, nothing more – once, a fool, blurted out, yes? Creativity is not a sport. But said – that is so.

I return to my poem. The first is why I decided to translate it into Hebrew. I really love Joseph Agnon, he is a brilliant writer, a Nobel Prize winner. By the way, was born in the town of Buchach, now Ternopil region. So we, it turns out, have our own Nobel laureate.

Somehow he meets with another writer, the future Nobel Prize laureate, Sol Bellow, an American of Jewish origin. He asks him: “Did they translate you into Hebrew?” – “I am translated into 40 languages of the world!”. – “And in Hebrew?”. – “No”. “Go and let you be translated. That all will be gone, but it will remain “…

I read about it and also decided to go so that they could translate me into Hebrew. The first translation was by Khava Korzakova. When it got to editing by the professor at the University of Jerusalem, Yigal Gameir, he said: “In this way none talk to the Lord God”. And together with his wife Raya, a poet, they created a new version. We translated the ten-page text for three years.

Why did I tackle this topic? I wanted to go through the so-called path of sacrifice, when God, wanting to test the righteous Abraham, told him to bring his only son Isaac for a burnt offering.

I was tormented by doubts when I wrote. Why so? If he is such a highly spiritual person, has a direct connection with God, he hears His voice, why should he not do what He asks? What is the feat?

It turns out that when Lord God sends such a test, you fall from all peaks, from all the steps of spiritual life – and you have to start all over again. This shocked me. Abraham passed the test, and God blessed him.

– An interesting explanation …

– Abraham believes in God more than himself. He is convinced that God knows us better than we do. And even when God’s purposes are incomprehensible, intentions are incomprehensible – all the same it is necessary to obey.

– “Sparrow tips can blow your mind.” And what did the wise people with whom you met told you?

– Once my friend – the chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, Jacob Bleich, brought me to his spiritual leader, who lives near Jerusalem. It was Saturday, Sabbath. December, terrible cold. It was raining. Five thousand people at once prayed in the open air. A tremendous feeling!

My wife with our friends, with whom we are friends for 30 years, comes to me from Tel Aviv. The Sabbath is already ending. And the rabbi is talking to me. I’m in hurry. He says: “Where are you hurrying?” – “At the concert in the Philharmonic, Kisin will play, the world pianist.” He exclaimed: “What Kisin?! Who is Kisin against faith?! We are talking about the main thing, but he is hurrying to Kishin. “And then every time at a meeting he remembered this episode. 

From the collection, “I did not live on earth”:

Нежные улицы, сны наизусть,

пьяные ветры, как псы дворовые, 
дом ностальгии заброшен и пуст,

прелюбодействуют звезды нагие. 
Улей растраченных слов на снегу,

словно скворечник в эпоху погромов, 
и слышно, как вера кричит – не могу! –

голосом грома.

– “The night of your eyes is unique” … Why do you have so little love lyrics?

– This life is not a show. I personally like: «Чернее черного чернила на черный лист ночей легло чистописание чудес. Ты рядом в снах моих служила, ты их сильней меня любила, не надо мной, над ними ты черным вороном кружила, и ворожила, ворожила…».  Chamber thing dedicated to my wife Luda.

– “Not everyone lives to death,” “Do not hurry to leave ahead of time, still will be late”, “The streets all lead to the cemetery” … How much would you like to live?
– Everything is in the hands of Lord God. I do not touch this topic, it is a mystery. Every minute you must ask for forgiveness, repent, because you do not know what this moment will end for you. We must always think about death. And nothing terrible here. It’s just a transition to another qualitative state. You, of course, can ask God to give you a long life. But if Moses asked him to let him go to the Promised Land, and God did not prolong his life, what to ask us, mortals for?

– You call yourself “Patriarch of irreclaimable debt” …

– We are all, while alive, debtors. Very big debtors! Do not always have time to return. People leave. We do not have time to give a smile, a kind word, happiness.

 And the last: “The seller of his own fate” …

– As they say in Ukraine, “on one.” I’m not only an actor in this life, but also a spectator. I myself look at myself, as I play. I take part in the play called “Day”, “Irritation”, “Delight” …I do not have popularity, fans. I’m not being fond of fans. Almost nobody in Kiev knows me. But here you called and said sincerely: “Sasha, I read it, and it surprised me.” So, I’m incredibly happy: I already have Misha. There is Maxim. There is a woman I did not see in my eyes. There are others… I am a happy person.