Jun 16, 2014

NICOLAE COANDE--My Writing Process--Blog Tour

Many thanks to poet Page Hill Starzinger for inviting me to the Writing Process blog tour.  You can read her own response here.

1.      What am I working on?

I am working on a poetry book that I hope will be published in 2015, and its first verse is the motor of the entire book; perhaps it will even become its title: “They didn’t let me rule the world”. I know, without emphasis, what the last verse of the book will be as well – “I don’t know how to tell stories”, even though I have got a few stories caught there in the book. However, as Mircea Ivănescu said in one of his early poems, where he was also quoting a maestro: “you don’t have to narrate in poetry…/ poetry mustn’t be a representation, a series of images…” Indeed, we should leave this to the novelists and journalists. Still, what does a poet do in poetry? Alchemy, of course. I am also being haunted by an essay book, half written, about... God. I realize the three suspension points before the “main subject” can seem frivolous, but they are rather about my hesitation before a book of this kind. In recent years, I have read multiple books and essays about the returning of the religious, especially in the West – because in the East, it is just the people who are leaving, not God -, and after I have meditated over them, I believe I could contour a booklet with Alfred N. Whitehead’s formula, about “God, poet and protector of the world.” The fact that God is a Poet gives me an indescribable state, which I also explain through the fact that I am a poet – yet when I awake from my reverie I realize it is not exactly the same thing. God has infinitely greater responsibilities than a miserable poet faced with the world they are making and rewriting incessantly. That being said, He is a long term Author, and His Critic is not yet born. This is what I should talk about and don’t know how to without becoming another one beating about the bush in the Elysian Fields.

2.      How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Through “signature”. But who can say that a simple signature can differentiate you as an unmistakable mark, or footprint? The question forces me to a kind of self-analysis that an author is continuously aware of, except now I must do it expresis verbis. I write with a feeling that the olden ones remarked, undoubtedly better than me, “wholly thrown over his prey”, except this “prey” must be maintained alive – it feeds me and, I hope, the random reader of my books. In general, my poetry books have been received by the critics in the tonality given by a certain furor of expression, a poetry with “maximum existential stakes”. To quote a Romanian poet, Romulus Bucur, who wrote about some of my books, when reading my poetry you could detach a few “hard notions: the impossibility of indifference, lucidity, the inadequacy between him (the poet) and the world, hence the proudly assumed marginality”. Well, I subscribe to this taxonomy of a poet who has read well in the heart of my poetry, but I would also add something I believe about what I write: the beauty I work at – each poet owes it to discover a new beauty – is crossed by that “caritas” to which I aspire in all my literature. I deny everything because I embrace everything. I hope there are a minimal authenticity and innovation in my poetry, otherwise I am just another Pierre Ménard writing endlessly about Don Quijote.

3.      Why do I write what I do?

Probably thanks to a genetic footprint, which I continuously reformulate in the alternative exercise of writing. What did people look like when writing hadn’t been invented? Thoth knows. When I watch the “Game of Thrones” series, I notice that, despite the continuous slaughter, people have discovered writing. I wonder what’s the use? How does it look today, when the great majority of people doesn’t write and doesn’t even want to hear about writing? Only they know. I know that I need to write, even though I don’t make it the cause of my life. Life has a single cause, which is life itself. You can live without writing, but not without oxygen. Life, however, in all its splendid indifference, needs literature in order to be refined in the infinite polyphonic discourse of the human voice. The voice, this is what was man’s gift among speechless beings. I don’t write as I breathe, but I breathe as I write (with a septum deviation). I believe there is a genetic mark in every author, which has been trained of course, by his/her education and what they've read, as well as by their part as a unique observer in the world. To use an Ancient expression, there exist “words of power”. Sure, the initiated will laugh in my face: you’re not Solomon to know the secret name of God! But I don’t want that; all I know as an initiate in my own writing is that I can discover my true name, and with it, the name of the world we live in. The secret name of God can remain hidden forever – or just in the care of those preoccupied with occult sciences. Poetry must be for all, even if we are not all for poetry.

4.      How does your writing process work?

Writing, decantation, simplification. I write after I don’t think anymore. {Like Milton said, “after the Muse visits me and inspires unthought-of verses”}. After that, I think with the unencumbered freedom of that whom has nothing to do anymore and remembers the alphabet again: in principio erat Verbum.

Nicolae Coande

(Translated from the Romanian by Lia Boangiu)

Nicolae Coande (born 1962 in Osica de Sus, Romania) has published eight collections of poetry in Romanian: On the Edge (1995); Fincler (1997); The Dead-End Road Named Homer (2002); Folfa (2003); Wind, Tobacco & Alcohol (2008); The Woman that I Write About (2010); VorbaIago (2012; Persona (2013). He has also published four collections of essays, the most recent of which is Romanian Intellectuals and the King's Court (2011). He has received several awards for his poetry from the Writers' Union of Romania. His work has been included in the anthologies Gefährliche Serpentinen – Rumänische Lyrik der Gegenwart (Druckhaus Verlag, Berlin, 1998), edited by Dieter Schlesak; Of Gentle Wolves (Calypso Editions, New York, 2011), translated and edited by Martin Woodside; The Vanishing Point that Whistles (Talisman Press, USA, 2011), edited by Paul-Doru Mugur, Adam Sorkin, and Claudia Serea.

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