VIDEO: Poetry in the Garden: Michael Dumanis

VIDEO: Poetry in the Garden: Michael Dumanis



it's Thomas I'm already from cool cleveland.com and we're here today in downtown Cleveland and we're here with Michael do Montes you are a poet thank you for meeting with us Michael you you you run the CSU poetry center and are doing a great event with the Baker North Center for the Humanities poetry in the garden coming up here October you also spent the first how many years of your life in the Soviet Union in Russia where I was born I was born in Russia my father was a minor Soviet dissident in the 70s and we immigrated when I was five years old and 1981 in 1981 so did you inherit any of this Russian literary history because they have a very rich history of literature um I feel like at least my father would like to resolve disputes at home by quoting very loudly various problems from Russia and also poetry by english language writers like Robert Byrne your father saddles arguments by quoting Russian poetry in english poetry as when i was a little kid if i had a story to tell to tell him he'd often listen for a little while or pretend to listen and they go off on a tangent by saying hold on there's this poem i have to read you so in some ways i got this illusion i think as a kid the poetry was very vital to our family life because it ended up always popping up a dinner so yes I feel I feel there was always this tradition of valuing poetry and a reciting poetry when I when I was really young so you studied poetry so that you could argue back with your father Eman an ounce of arguments so I could prove them wrong yeah so what is going on in the poetry scene here in Cleveland because its head Cleveland has a very rich poetry backgrounds always had the poetry Center here Kent State a lot of the areas around here have really focused on literature and poetry what's it like today and then 21st century I think there's a lot of younger poets who who've come to the area through the various universities in the area there's an exciting poet at case western US air cos i'm only at oberlin cats ages hired a very interesting poet named katherine wing who actually be reading at Cleveland State in a few weeks and and i've been here since 2007 right and i feel like there's been a lot of just energy and vitality i am in the scene here for my particle even stay part of what I do at the poetry centers bring writers to campus so we brought as many as 24 writers around the country in a single year so as a result we have audiences about 40 to 100 coming to these readings real add as we've been happening since I've been here and it's pretty good for poetry it's quite good for poaching yeah yeah yeah and you guys are publishing as well correct and we publish an ad out of the poetry center we publish about five books of poems a year through natural contest yeah you guys are working on october third between one and four this poetry in the garden at the clean botanical center or the bacon nord Center for the Humanities the theme is globalism how how is poetry in the general sense affecting globalism we think of it as economic movement and having to do with the economy but what is poetry have to do with what my understanding is that that this part of the paper North symposium was thought of in terms of poetry bringing various cultures together in this group of poets that are reading on october third i'm reading obviously as a poet who grew up bilingual who was born born the Soviet Union whose book is called my Soviet Union I'm reading with Ilya Kaminski who's also Russian American poet from San Diego who is coming in as a professor at university of california at san diego state university and um Erica Meitner is a poet as a Jewish American poet who who writes about culture in a lot of ways coming from Virginia Tech and Kazem Ali is an American poet of Indian descent so there's an idea of poetry bridging cultures and also and also kind of globalism to the aesthetic diversity of the poets who are were eating and you're going to be actually reading in the japanese garden and the English Rose Garden and then you're going to switch and do them are they expecting that the context of of the different gardens will speak to the poetry that I did I didn't know about but something very interesting I think about this event that I've never seen before at a poetry event when I took this last year you have for poets in different gardens right I'm reading at the same time and the audience moves from guard in the garden hearing different poets when they want to hear them right I think that's a really neat idea the simultaneity of all these voices reading at the same time exactly are you bound by your cultural heritage when you write or are you first-generation immigrant that wants to sort of leave some of that behind that's sort of typically what the first generation does it's not till the second or third generation that they usually come back to that heritage I think we're all I think we're all products of our upbringing in the sense that i know i can tell that my bilingualism or my read having read poetry in Russian before reading poetry in english has had some impact on my poetry i think there's often a big international interest in my poetry but i would say that when i think in my poems i don't i don't write about Russia there's a quote that I really liked by John Ashbery who in a Paris Review interview many years ago said I don't write about experience I write from experience right and I feel that in some ways encapsulates my relationship to my cultural background ok so it's there but you're not necessarily but it's not literally that and it's not your subject matter and it's not my subject matter but i think is it's in every word that i use and all of the rhetoric right how about the language I mean is there is there some reference to echoes is there some something verbal something in the syntax throughout actually what do you when you bring up syntax that's a very interesting because in Russian in Russian I'm syntax as much freer you can move around you know saying you i love i love you I you love is basically the same thing there's slightly different emphasis but it makes as much sense and as a result i always felt very free in my syntax but for your license acts in english because i can feel where else you can position the I think I'm Russian poetry comes for a very formal culture with formal metrical culture and so my poems while my poems sort of straddle that line between between free verse and formal versus right part as a result properly and when you when you read your poetry when you speak it does that I assume it's very different than just reading it on the page I think that that's actually something that I think might like that my upbringing gave me on some level that I used to feel somewhat self-conscious about in Russia I think poetry it was always viewed the performative act oh yeah yeah you get you get up in front of people and used acclaim in the store in my child and my father reading poetry out loud would read it very dramatically and so there is a way that I always saw every poem that I wrote as a kind of mini performance Wow and I always expected it not necessarily be for me to read aloud but for somebody else for me out loud and to invest their voice in the motion so as you're reading it it your as you as you're writing it you are thinking about what this is gonna sound like being read I think about sound almost as much as I think about anything else you actually read it out loud as you're writing like out how about how the verses sound I I talk to myself a lot what I right yeah well speaking of talking to yourself do you mind reading a brief poem for us not at all be awesome if you could and all I'll say about the poem i'm going to read about 10 years ago i had a Fulbright fellowship to Bulgaria and this was during the this was during the conflict within the former Yugoslavia during the war in former Yugoslavia and I really wanted to go to Bosnia at that time and I didn't I got scared but I did buy a lonely plan at a tour book 1999 sir Bosnia and I opened it straight to the travel advisory section and some of the lines in this poem are directly taken from that in other words if you were going to trillions mornings this is a poem called travel advisory do not endeavor to snapshot the locals do not trust anything that could snap shot try to pass quickly through slipshod locals do not give arms make no eye contact do not confuse yourself with your reflection this span of ruins with a system this in with the place to come back to rein in the impulse to build a new city from these scattered twigs do not poke around in the abandoned houses of the damaged village do not get curious about shiny metal in the grass do not plant kisses on the blind accordion 'used leave the mermaid alone it is not meant to be you will cause a fence you will not hear the knob turn you will wake to find stones in your mouth and a lake in each I do not ring the concierge do not search for the consulates regard every centimeter of ground as suspicious trains are essentially useless the timetable lies each day you are bound to lose something each day you are bound to lose something do not be a drawer too far from a given road shoulder owning a car does not give you the clearance to drive Michael that is so 21st century thank you so much for talking with us we can't wait to see what poetry in the garden thanks for taking thanks very much thank you hey it's thomas from already from cool cleveland.com have a great week in cool Cleveland

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