Teach me how to live, crazy dawn…

Irina Sotnikova, Candidate of Philology, poet, novelist, literary

The sense of the poet’s life. What is it? From the point of view of a mercantile society, the life of a creator is generally meaningless, because its values are of a different kind, they can only be seen from a distance. Not so long ago, in my environment, in connection with the death of Yalta poet Sergey Novikov, someone suggested that it is impossible to identify a person and a poet, that often a person as a being of a physical plan does not reach the poet, which he is. And immediately the question arose: is there any need in this case to strive for an acquaintance with the poet, is it not enough just to know his poems? A controversial issue. The only thing that is clear is that if you understand the poet, you will also accept a person in it, a suffering hypostasis, eating out your own and others’ sins and eternally crucifying its soul on the cross.


It’s difficult to talk about Alexander Korotko as a person; he’s too much in the public eye. Not free from all programming and social patterns, we usually judge such people superficially and attribute to them something that really is not. Alexander Korotko as a poet was until recently only familiar to me. And here I have in my hands a small, well-designed booklet with his photograph and poems. The photo does not say anything. But the poetry does.


I cannot call myself a brilliant connoisseur of world poetry; I’m much closer to the study of the sensations that give one or another poetic line. One-line poems are a very common poetic genre, especially loved by the poets of the Silver Age. Let’s recall Max Voloshin and his famous one-liners under the watercolors:


Одна луна луне другой глядится в мертвенные очи.


Как молоко свернувшееся, ряби жемчужных облаков.


И дышит утренняя свежесть на темной зелени лугов.


Берега рассказывают сумеречный сон.


But the “silver” did not come up with single-line poems, they borrowed them in Japanese culture, which at the beginning of the twentieth century, along with the works of Japanese artist Hokusai, exerted a powerful influence on many European artists and poets, and especially the French, where the creative hypostasis of Max Voloshin was formed. For example, here are some poems by the innovator of classical Japanese poetry Matsuo Basho, deliberately writing them down in one line (translation of Vera Markova):


Старый пруд. Прыгнула в воду лягушка. Плеск в тишине.


Шатая дощатую дверь, сметает к ней листья с чайных кустов Зимний холодный вихрь.



Пируют в дни расцвета вишен. Но мутное вино моё бело, но с шелухою рис мой черный.


Поник головой,  словно весь мир опрокинут, – под снегом бамбук.



It would seem what you can still come up with after the famous Japanese and long-known poets? Alexander Korotko does not invent anything new. The poet goes further: expanding and deepening the scope of his own vision of modern reality, he gives this genre a new flavor – the color of modernity with its sharpness of perception, mixed up with the usual expectation of the Apocalypse, and at the same time the wonder of the wisdom of the visible world. And here is the paradox! – knowing a little of Japanese poetry, I suddenly come to the conclusion that the present world has not changed in its fundamentals. Only its attributes have changed, as scenery on the stage. Judge for yourself, is not the philosopher Alexander Korotko in his one-liner “Better guessing than knowing” is not set in the understanding of the processes of Being with the philosopher Basho on the same wave, who just as calmly states: In sorrow you feel more strongly that wine is a great sage; In poverty for the first time you will know that money is a deity. To affirm means to know the truth. Maybe it is.


And then Alexander Korotko wrote completely modern things, literally knocking out of the usual ruts and making them stop.


Fear is my guardian angel.


What is it, the Freudian concept? Yes, let’s leave Freudon his own, it is possible to argue endlessly, but I see an ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail: the ellipsis, which assumes the beginning of any process in its end, the eternal symbol of perfection. Alexander Korotko is right, without fear a person is dead. 


I do not know if Alexander Korotko is familiar with Zen, but it’s not interesting to me, but his one-liner “Rid the star!” is the Zen koan. This is a task that the poet-teacher gives the student-reader that he knows himself, if, of course, he wants it. To rid the star is actually as easy as dancing with the rain, to distinguish the winds by character, to hear the rising grass rustle. All ingenious is extremely simple. I recently read somewhere that a real sense of humor appears in the person who carefully peered into the bottomless abyss and slowly walked back. Rid the star and you will not have any claims to the world around you. Indeed, it is simple.


And suddenly: “Disheveled colors of October”. Maybe the tousled leaves of October? I was reproached several times with the fact that I, as a poet, unite incompatible concepts in my poems, which, according to the logic of versification, cannot be. I do not want to know the logic of versification, I feel it. I meet the same illogicality with Alexander Korotko and I understand that the time has come for illogicalities, the time for finding new stylistic forms. Korotko transfers the actions from the leaves to their paint quality and receives a double impersonation in the nominative sentence – again the same elliptical design. The result of such, at first glance, a complex transfer is a real feeling of rustling leaves underfoot.

And then – a whole series of one-liners dynamic, breaking through space, like a flying core brake taut canvas: Birds are carrying the sun on the wings. Teach me to live, crazy dawn. And the nest, that hope is trying to make, will be ruined. Anxiety has its own lodgers … Here is rising something absolutely new, above-philosophical, over-contemplative. The author is in the center of the world, which is twisted around him in a galactic spiral, where the dawn is crazy, challenging, where anxiety is alive thinking creature devouring infantile people, where the abstract hope is compared to a bird, a free, symbolic wight and at the same time dependent on the evil will of people . Notice that people in this entire phantasmagoria are just people. Like the poet himself, standing in the center of the world. Again an ellipse, a paradox of perception, but is the life paradoxical itself, is it filled with mystery or not? And the poet makes his way to this secret tirelessly, as if to the last truth, and cannot comprehend it, but the echoes of it, like splashes from the seething wave of the sea on the stones, settle in lines and sound, exciting the imagination.


Alexander’s one-liners leave the feeling of being caught and frozen in the moment. It seems that the author cuts off the reality moving around him, neutralizes time as an entropic concept, and closes this instant into the boundaries of rhythm, a specially constructed phonetics and a paradoxical meaning. But it does not become static, because in the apparent deadlock of our three-dimensional space, where the dynamic, procedural time, which is the basis of everything, loses its significance, the Korotko’s image of the instant grows backwards, upwards, in breadth, opening up to consciousness other multidimensional spaces.


But to represent Alexander Korotko as the author of one trend in poetry is not entirely correct. I read his “full” poems, where, as expected, there is dynamics, and I feel a completely different character, a different quality of movement. In general, I would say that the poet masterfully knows the time. In one-liners, he pacifies him and often stops at all, and in “full” poems his time becomes so flying and almost uncontrollable, that you feel how the wind blows in your face the spaces that are disturbed by them. Again a breakthrough. But where? How is it carried out? 

Я тебе рассказывать не стану,

как кружился снег, как печаль была пьяна,

как во сне таинственно и странно,

в недоступные для сердца дали

вслед за сердцем улетали страны,

собирая пепел на заре.


At first glance, the author completely ignores such unshakable canons of versification as rhyme and rhythm. The number of syllables in the lines does not correspond to each other, there is no clear scheme, rhyme, like the first perceived стану-странно-страны suddenly gets lost and rests on a phonetically strong word заре, not rhymed with anything earlier. But already, a deep internal reading began to spin, began to spin up in a spiral, and we subconsciously begin to look for somewhere on the periphery of the verse continuation, the consonance of that very заре and suddenly find: 

Я тебе рассказывать не стану,

как смеялись волны в океане,

как под небом брошенным и ранним,

умирали тучи в декабре…


Moreover, the words заре and декабре are accentological, they break the line to take a breath. And in this irregularity of the Korotko’s versification is present that force that makes the poem alive, acting, and exciting. The action does not freeze for a moment, it seizes new and new boundaries of the author’s microcosm, involves them in phantasmagoric dance of meanings and … suddenly calms down. All this is like a powerful gust of wind: until it stops, you cannot relax. And the reader’s inner attention, captured by the author for a short time, becomes a captive of the author’s imagination. Somewhere there is an analogy with the dynamics of the Russian conspiracy, or rather with its concept. There is a certain magic of rhythm, and if there is a sense in this rhythm, the effect of the verse becomes inexpressibly strong. And the meaning in the verses of Alexander Korotko is so profound and diverse that at some stage he begins to deny his own profundity and smoothly flows into the eastern contemplation of reality without external awareness, which we already saw in his one-liners. 

In the poem Lost in the map of events, meanings and philosophical maxims are superimposed on each other, creating sensations of the stream of consciousness. The lyric hero of the poem – lives very hurry, he speeds up time, he “pulls” out of his own being memories of the real and imaginary events, and somewhere we begin to doubt: is this reality whatsoever? And like beacons, in its virtual space, built-in single-line utterances burn: my memory, I’m your celestial … time plays the ape on the shoulder … I’ll leave this sleepy land unnoticed and first… the timid one will take advantage of your name…

Meanings. Images. Hints. Attempts to understand himrself. Imaginary disorder with a well-organized internal structure (even unconsciously). Search. Motion. Stop…


Yes, move. Complacency. The inability to remain on the same summit is long seen in the verses of Alexander Korotko as clearly as his unique ability, without hesitation for a long time, to cast off the stiff canons and furiously seek new artistic means. And there is no question even whether it is good or bad. Because it is strong. Because this man found his truth.


 …The timid one will take advantage of his name …

The article was published on the “Contraband” portal: