Poet Alexander Korotko: When my grandson is asked what his grandfather does, he answers: Grandfather works as a Jew!

Mikhail Nazarenko

(is published in the reduction)

 I walked along a one-legged street to meet with the poet Alexander Korotko and looked at the world around me for the first time. People were like things scattered like horrible. Some led a life dreary, monotonous, without cases, others were satisfied with sensual pantomime, cherishing the illusory dust of understanding. And at others the soul calmed down, for them came the fifth season.

In the cage on the window I saw a dead parrot, and in the hand of a fortuneteller – the dead hand of a stranger. I heard: an old man with a face, like an interrupted story, uttered mysterious phrases, as if he had telegraphed to the Lord God: “We are all here on bird rights. We are living targets of our own goals. Time was cut into monks. The present is whimsical every day. We executed the epoch by insanity. ” Reply to the old man in a strange way sounded in me: “It is better to guess than to know. If you go straight, without folding, you will go to heaven. He who listens to reason does not know the faith. Do not touch the sky with your hands. “

The tired soul of the city took on the form of fog. I stopped in the middle of the street. Lord, what is wrong with me? Does the world only live in our imagination? A soothing thought came: “What happiness, that it is impossible to start anything from the beginning!”.

This miniature I created from poetic lines and images, wrote by the Kiev poet Alexander Korotko. He is also a prose writer (he wrote an amazing thing, out of the genre, “Lunar boy”, released this year), a playwright (at the Theater in Podol, a play based on his poetry “Quarter of the Celestials”), a songwriter (co-authored with the composer Inna Pushkar Released a CD “People are not Gods”). In addition, there was a CD “Along the Silence”, where the poet’s poetry was brilliantly performed by People’s Artist of Russia Sergei Yursky. The works of our fellow countryman have been translated into Ukrainian, English, Polish, Croatian, Greek, now the French edition is being prepared.

That’s how the poet appreciates famous creative personalities. Andrei Voznesensky about “The Dawn Meeting”: “The poem is written by an artist … And as richer your imagination is, as more you will understand and discover.” Andrei Bitov about the “Lunar boy”: “Prose of Korotko belongs to the poet … She refutes all talk about the loss of literature, as a civilization, as a culture.” Pavlo Zagrebelny: “Uncertainty, I’m telling you, the trip of Alexandr Korotko – in its almost boundary materiality”. Sergei Yursky: “He is a rare poet, of a high note … Best of all.”

I, after reading the book of Korotko, was struck by his “inaccessible for too many level of spiritual existence” (the expression of Joseph Brodsky).

I called him and said that he had added up to the genius that “The Dawn Meeting” is a masterpiece, and “The Lunar Boy” is something extraordinary. And he added that his poetry took me out of the state of gloomy spiritual neglect, in which I was staying in recent times, gave impetus to life.

– Today is actually Monday. It was possible to postpone the meeting for another day …

– No, it does not bother me. I’m not superstitious.

… I do not have a minute free; I’m in terrible time trouble. That is such a crazy stuff, such a crazy concentration! I do not wait for inspiration, I sit down and work. And if there is inspiration, then just speed faster. I lead a closed life. I still do not know where the Writers’ Union of Ukraine is, where this building is. I have never been there. A true artist should be outside this and live in a big city, like in the desert. To hear the rhythm, the pulse of this city, the heart of everyone moving in it. And if he is in the thick of events and not suspended, then the creation of the present, the big one will be problematic for him. It is necessary to go to mental self-isolation, that is, to return to one’s genetic roots. For me, this is Judaism. A vivid example of such creativity is Marc Chagall, who Hebrew and Yiddish emotionally transmitted with colors. He talked with colors! And he created the cosmos.

– You annoyed lots of people (as now – I am not sure).

– Probably, every person is annoying. But I think that now I irritate less. I almost do not appear anywhere.

– Anyway: impressive books, CDs, collections of poems published here and abroad – this undoubtedly evokes zealous feelings. Well, they do not want to admit it right away!

– We must realize that a little bit of a significant work is always ahead of time. Each has own, we name it so, ruler or meter, with which it measures this distance. But there is a creator and there are his works. Let’s talk about works, what’s with the fact that he’s annoying someone? So or not? Creative people have always been hard to live. But if you go on an occasion, you will not create anything.

– When we were young, I sometimes pulled back my wife: “Stop talking at someone’s address.” And she said: “In my kitchen, I can say whatever I want” …

– We are all in front of the Lord God as in the palm of a hand, and wherever we are, He sees everything. In addition, the word is material …

– That is, that a person who is mentioned by an evil word behind, all this feels at some level?

– Certainly. There are three victims of this process: the one who speaks, the one about whom they speak, and the one who listens. Since you touched on this topic, I want to quote the statement of the French philosopher Pascal: “There would be few friends in the world if each of them found out what his friend says about him when he is not around.” I do not want to postulate because I’m growing up and I do not have the right to be categorical, but it’s very simple. A person needs to learn: the first thing is not to cursive, the second is to move away from evil and the third is to do good. If you do not blaspheme, you will show this intellectual chivalry, intellectual nobility. Because, it seems to me, we are fighting, not with external circumstances, but with ourselves. Maximum to be demanding of yourself and look in others only for good. It treats you first of all.

– How do you overcome this in yourself? After all, sometimes you want to say something sharply about someone?

– Of course I do. And sometimes I tell. And then I’m sorry. Now I try to speak less and less. And I teach my children. I was offended a lot, I offended a lot. We are very serious and strongly sinful. But that’s the power of faith, that it allows you to repent and change the past and the present. This is an illusion when one thinks that time is moving from the past to the present and the future. In my opinion, it is moving in a circle …

And in general, we should not allow time to rob us. We have great spiritual values, accumulated in a past life. And as more we multiply and retain them, as better our living. Because life is movement!

Without overcoming, without resistance, I am convinced that it makes no sense. If you did not get better at this particular moment, you necessarily became worse! How Vysotsky sang: “The counter clicks”, yes? There is an interesting such thing. The artist actually keeps the dialogue inside himself horizontally. And on the vertical, he communicates with the Lord God. And if one of the creators says that he was an unbeliever, when he created something, then he deceives himself. He did not even know that he believed. If there is no God, nothing real will come out.

Do not sow illusions. We have freedom of choice. Fish are swimming downstream. And if among them there is a dead one, it swims with the same speed as the living one. Did not you pay attention? Everyone can swim in if there is a downstream.

The formula is very simple: just overcoming! And this is a struggle with yourself. The test of suffering. It exalts. It is easier to overcome than the test of happiness that makes our body and soul obese. We become narcissistic, arrogant, and at times cynical. We lose criticism.

– Once you said that when a poet is 50 years old, it is very difficult for him to create. You have already crossed this line (Alexander Shimonovich Korotko was born on August 29, 1952).

– I just said that, according to venerable artists, in 50 years the poets end. If I remember correctly, it was noted by Joseph Brodsky, Thomas Eliot, Wisten Oden … I have not finished poetry yet, but I did not accidentally start writing prose. This is not a tragedy, but a stage. You have to live up to your age.

– You look younger than you are.

– Thank God. But it happens in many ways. Sometimes I wake up, look at myself in the mirror and it looks like I’m all 70! But the whole point is that you say to yourself: you are not as good as you think, but the world is not so bad as you think about it. Do not be jealous. Do not compare yourself with someone. We lose a lot when we start comparing. Someone said to me: “You look at the world with one pair of eyes, and the world looks at you a hundred thousand. Do not be afraid of these searchlights. “

The most beautiful thing is to be yourself. Do not try to be taller. More beautiful. Tighten, muscular. There must be a constant wakefulness of the soul, it must not sleep. In the spiritual world, there are no final stops. This earthly life is very fleeting, we are mortal. At some point, all recall the words of King Shlomo, or, as they say in the world, King Solomon: “All is the vanity of vanities and the vain catch of the wind.”

– Have not you begun to indulge too early in such reflections?

– How is it “early”? I think not. I have a good poem about death, called “The Abandoned Garden”, it is nowhere printed:


На земле есть сад, заброшен он и пуст. Там давно никто

не обитает. Как узнать, насколько было сладким яблоко

на вкус в том далеком и забытом рае? На земле есть жизнь

с восхода до заката, разноцветными желаньями греша.

На земле есть смерть, она не виновата. Просто ходит

по земле, в затылок нам дыша.

 Are not you afraid of death?

– Outstanding zaddik (righteous man) Nachman said: “For me to die is like moving from one room to another.” Do not be afraid of death, it’s just a qualitative change. And how it happens will depend on how your soul worked, what it is full of.

– Have you ever imagined the afterlife?

  There also is life … There is such a parable in Judaism. One very rich man fell ill and was already dying. He was told that there is a righteous man who heals people. And then the rich man came to him with a caravan loaded with treasures. He sees: a righteous man is sitting in a simple hovel, poverty is complete! He healed him. “What to give you? Asked the rich man. “The palace?” Gold? Ask for whatever you want! “. The righteous man said calmly: “I do not need anything.” – “How not!” Cried the rich man. “You have nothing!”. And the righteous man says: “So I’m here temporarily. All my palaces, all my gold, all my happiness is there. «He pointed to the sky with his finger.

– Loneliness never bothers?

– I already said: for artist it is impossible not to be lonely. Because everything is inside, everything is from there. We must constantly sink into ourselves, only in ourselves, to be primarily interesting to ourselves. And if you, being alone with yourself, do not know where to run, what to do, it’s a little sentence for you: you are not yet a mature person.

… I do not know my reader. There is a circle of relatives and friends; I can name them by name. They need my poetry, they admire it. But this does not say anything, it can be subjective. If you like it – thank God. But somehow I do not care about rapturous sighs. The same applies to my songs, especially those written with the composer Inna Pushkar. Do you know how much we wrote? More than 60! And on the CD there were only 12.

Inna Pushkar is very talented. She is a very strong person and, I think, can serve as an example for many. How to overcome difficulties, how to deal with external and internal circumstances, with yourself. She lives a very complex, amazing life. In her work she is not a fake.

I believe that our songs are in no way inferior to what Billy Joel is doing in America. We are stronger than Sting. Our level is Elton John. The time will come, and it will be fashionable what we are doing now. I do not doubt it. It can be in two years, maybe, in seven and a half years, and maybe, in 100. Probably, I will not be any more. I’ll sit on the cloud; swinging my legs and watch my books are read. Something I’ll tell someone, I’ll explain.

– Your impressions of Sergei Yursky?

– I admire this man; he looks even younger near than in the distance. This is a great creative unit. He touched the giants – with Evstigneev, with the brilliant Smoktunovsky … We communicated very closely, I asked him questions: “But Evstigneev was tremulous?”. – “No”. – “And Smoktunovsky?”. “No,” he says, “he was a cynic.”

– Yursky was puzzled by your poems. He could not explain to himself – where did this come from? He asked if you had a tragic event in your life, a breakdown. You said: “No, I had not …”

– Yes, he said so. Yursky repelled from his own sensations and, perhaps, from the stereotype. How, for example, did he come to the theater? How does he express himself? And he was looking, and I did not give him an answer. I deliberately did not say. Something I, of course, could reveal, it’s just not the time yet. I can say that at the heart of all creativity is suffering. But I never hit my head in childhood, thank God.

– I quote your poem “From childhood”: “In that life, quiet and kind, there were two tales: a grandmother and a street … Then I did not yet know that death is true with a face suffering from suffering …”

– Childhood is a crazy energy state from which I do not go out. This is the strongest dope! We are all from childhood. I have a feeling that now I will wake up and it turns out that my whole life is a dream and it was not at all. There will again be a house in Korosten, where I was born and lived with my grandmother. And the logs will crack in the red-hot furnace. And for the New Year they will put a Christmas tree in the house and hang heavenly apples, Tuzik and Belochka candies on it, I will approach it and quietly tear them down.

For me, childhood is a yard where I and my friend Lev Krizhnev (our houses stood side by side) did a “secret”: we buried flowers in the summer under a glass, in order to open and find them in the winter.

I was little when I was learning to ride a bicycle. I did not get to the pedals; I climbed my foot under the frame. And I did not know how to get off him. What I did? I drove along the fence, rubbing against it, so stopped and fell on the sand.

… A very strong memory – when I went with my grandmother to the market. It was impossible to cut hens in the family, and we referred them to the Shoihed, who chopped off their heads. There is a queue. Mountains of chicken feathers …

– What for you is Kiev – the city in which you live, as in the desert?

–  And what about Kiev? The prayed place.

– It is prayed, but for some reason creative people at the slightest opportunity flee from here as damned. There are so many examples!

– Yes. I watched a TV show: Dmitry Gordon interviewed Roman Viktyuk. And Viktyuk says: “Who would I be if I did not leave Lviv?”. Many, of course, leave. If I’m not mistaken, Gogol said: “As further your desk from home, as better you’ll write.”

In my opinion, you become an exception …

– I have not thought about this lately. Correctly, they leave … By the way, in the “Lunar boy” the ending is not accidental: “And the country that was born as a native land passed like a cloud, aside” …

I already talked about my native Korosten. I often go there. I look at the dilapidated house near the market square, I walk along a narrow path to the river Uzh … And it all worries me. This is for me a homeland. The homeland is the air. I smear it on bread and eat it. Homeland – where you feel comfortable. But I think that this should not be much shouting. Patriotism cannot be transferred to paper, to banners, to presidiums.

– In Brodsky’s verses there are obscene words:

 A thing can be dropped, burned, pulled apart, or struck.

Thrown. But the thing, in turn, won’t yell loudly:

– Yes, he loved it. So what?

 And you do not admit it?

–  I rule it out, it just rejects by my interior. Whatever I said about him, Brodsky will stay Brodsky. I was addicted to it, read it hundreds of times. But for me he is not a genius poet, but a genius culturologist. For just one essay on the Tsvetaeva’s poem on the death of Rilke, he is worthy of three Nobel Prizes.

I know that you have two daughters, Zhenya and Anya. Which of them just said hello and passed by?

– Zhenya, the youngest.

– And what is your grandson’s name?

– It’s David. When he is asked what his grandfather does, he responds: “Grandpa works as a Jew.” He began to compose once. He comes up and says: “Wow, it is hard work to write poetry.”


It’s very difficult to write poetry, it’s a huge work. Poetry is a pure product, a substance, something that cannot be told in prose. Prose – this is when the infantry is going, and poetry – when supersonic aircraft are flying.

It is interesting to me to live. I consider myself as a happy person – with all my sufferings, experiences, emotions. Do not expect a miracle from life. For today our meeting is a miracle. The miracle is that we live on this earth …