Andrey Voznesensky, Russian poet Foreword to a long poem To Meet the Dawn, 2003
Complex sentences in poetry are never indicative of poetic complexity. Alexander Korotko thinks in terms of words, rather than strophes. This is the main feature of modernity in his poetry. The plot in the poem is allegedly absent. However unidirectionality is substituted with organically common vision of the image. Its pieces are polyvalent so they are connected with each other, which results in multiple meanings and flashes of unexpected senses. How does a modern person perceive reality? With his eyes, his vision? but earlier only with his ears. Hunting instinct has been substituted with photographic one.
Nature was bluffing How risky the game seemed. A hunk of dawn is lying on a plank bed.
The poems by Alexander Korotko amazingly combine the West and the East regardless of a famous line by Rudyard Kipling for “School-desks are marching, Hitler-Jugend at school” represents western mentality, western world perception. “Roads cannot be seen. And we feel as if we are absent. It’s time to die”. This is the pure East. The strong point of the poem is that two mentalities came together, grasped each other, not fighting, but hugging, creating the art of the third, Eastwestern, or Westeastern mentality. The concept of circulation, approach to the doomsday, behind which the sun rises again and the new world begins. This new world moves westwards from the East, them eastwards from the West like a belting train in the night, with the lights in the windows of carriages flashing on and going down in the night, like falling dominoes. Such mixture of philosophies gives fantastic results. The poems by Alexander Korotko include both Russian humorous sayings, and Japanese haiku and tanka, dancing in the plains of the Central Europe. Dancing, but not pushing, not destroying each other. It’s not the matter of forms. The world itself is very formal and chaotic. But real artists are able to see, to stop and to depict the harmony of those seemingly incompatible principles on canvas or paper. This is what poetic talent is. This is what Alexander Korotko succeeded in when creating his new poem. The author’s personality was taken out of the context. Like a satyr he spies from behind the wings, having staged the play, which is sometimes foreign for him, and sometimes so beloved by him. He is waiting for the heroes to surprise him, for they, just like him, are free to create new performances. Seeming absence of plot and external incoherence of the poem’s lines, their fragmentariness reflect thinking process of a modern human precisely – internally they match each other, creating a very capacious sphere with an extensive associative array, bearing multiple meanings. Disruptiveness of thoughts turns out the basic principle of thinking process of a modern human. A new moral attitude to the world was also suggested.
Gasping from love, a prostitute is waiting for her client.
Moralists humiliated her at all times, while the poet lets her love, even if she loves like that. And that is true – love is anyway better than hate. Conscious mind is directly associated with spiritual syphilis.
The nose of conscious mind is falling off.
Works by Alexander Korotko are impressionistic for sure. For this reason Van Gogh, clearly loved by the author, appears as the morning with the mouth cut out. The strokes are roughish, substantial, you should step back to see the accuracy and multiple meanings in whole.
A new work always lures to compare, to seek similar, familiar.
The poem has nothing in common with any other works, except perhaps just one. It is “The Twelve”. The same abruptness. Steps. Gruffishness, not typical of a lyric poet. The main idea is inacceptability of revolutionism. At their time critics have read Blok incorrectly – too seriously. “The Twelve” was written in a mocking, sarcastic manner. The same is here. Beginning with exaggerated “Towards the Dawn”, the whole poem is an irony, sometimes rude irony when referring to the recent past, which means to the present. Irony is like parody. This is where innovation, refinement and stylistic delicacy lie: parody kills, while irony stimulates nostalgia. We all come from this time.
Empire of the nights… Confused, belonging to nobody, a sunset beyond the horizon … Desperation and light. Angels swirling. And crumbs of doubts from the table of victories…
And suddenly a totally unexpected metaphor, which can be called an artistic discovery.
Vertical happiness runs to the earth through celestial strings, like hordes of the Huns.
The way the barbarity represented by the Huns appears is not horizontal, as it has always been in the history. The enemies were waited for from the four sides, but not from the sky. Not from celestial time of the aliens. Hordes come like happiness – vertically, through celestial strings – downwards. The poet’s prediction came true and became a historic fact – almost all troubles in the 20th century and in the beginning of the 21st came from above, including bombardment of twin-towers in New-York.
The poem is written by an artist, not by a narrator. Alexander Korotko is drawing, and you are looking at his pictures. The richer is your own imagination, the more you understand and discover, for artists should not impose his opinion on the spectators, who is not just wandering along the galleries, stepping out, memorizing the poems of favorite poets. The only thing the author proclaims is freedom – freedom of expression, freedom of self-perception. This is the world of the poem by Alexander Korotko.more
PrefaceHillary Shears, translator and poet. December 2019, London