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“Those Years” – the sensation of the past

May 2, 2009 by · No comments

Velina Vateva

In every poem lie the histories of its birth.

Roger Craik

I enter the room where Roger Craik will read his poems and am being welcomed by his smile. Everyone is welcomed by his smile. I now have his volume of poetry “Those Years” and the sensation of the remembering in the stories these pages tell and keep envelopes me.

He is standing in front of us telling us about the stories of the birth of those poems, which have come to him in the past two years, giving us the chance not only for a glance towards their world, but what is more, if we only would do the effort, to stay in their enchantment and to feel it as if it is the enchantment of our own world.

By these stories Roger Craik paints a world, which is given the everyday life nonsense and at the same time a world, which has the strength to lead you far beyond the ordinary. While telling us them, he laughs and his laughter shows his willingness to see the world through the mirror of irony and self-irony.

And maybe irony could never exist as passion that heals our feelings towards the world if first it had not been self-irony. After all, how could you possibly look at the world with laughter if first of all you had not seen yourself through the laughter, which can break the absurdity of life, meaning the absurdity of everything’s end?

You might not remember poems word-for-word which have had impressed you profoundly, but you remember the rhythms of them. I recite my poems at my recorder and then play them back, so I could suggest where the poem is going. If you write something and then read it out to yourself that is pretty good but you have to make the effort to do the reading. If you have a recorder, you can hear what you’ve written, and have time to let the poem’s music sink in.

The poem is always more important than the poet himself. I think that a poem produced is far more important than the person who wrote it. Sometimes you feel as if it is not you who is writing, and I think that this is a very marvellous state to be in.

You can write a poem about anything, the theme is not tremendously important. The British poet Philip Larkin says, “A good poem about failure is a success”. The opposite, although he didn’t say it, is also true, “A bad poem about success is a failure”.

The sense of humour is not essential for writing, besides there are all kinds of different humours. I do not think consciously about bringing it in. I am certainly not good at commenting my own things; I leave this to other people. When you write something, it does not belong to you anymore – it now belongs to other people. And that is really fine!

Professor Roger Craik teaches literature and creative writing at Kent State University Ashtabula, in north-east Ohio, USA. He has published four volumes of poetry. He is also an author of studies on English authors of the Renaissance. He is a compiler and editor of a volume of John Dun’s poetry. In the year 2007 he was a Fulbright lecturer in the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

His volume of poetry “Those Years” was published in the present year by the publishing house “Altera” and was translated in Bulgarian by Evgenia Pancheva.

Photos by Nikolai Nikolov

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