maintenant #40: sergej timofejev

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

I want to share simple truths with you” – an interview with Sergej Timofejev by SJ Fowler.

One of the most adventurous and groundbreaking poets in the Baltic, Latvia’s Sergej Timofejev is a fundamental part of the radical reconfiguration of his nation’s poetic culture and landscape in the last few decades. A urbane, grounded, naturalistic stylist, the power of his poetry has allowed him to implement numerous innovations in a region associated with formalism. Experiments with poetry and music / art installations / performance / video & even computer games, have seen his popularity soar in Latvia, though he remains a poet writing in Russian. In the 40th edition of Maintenant, Sergej Timofejev discusses the influence of Western culture, the healthy state of Latvian poetry and the reward of poetic collaborative innovation.

Pull Quotes: 

ST: When we started the Orbita, poetry readings were actually kind of gatherings of sad drinkers with beards who were dressed in big polo-neck sweaters. After or even during every poetry reading people got drunk and depressed. We didn’t like it this way. We never had a manifesto or something like a new poetical ideology. We just grow up in the tusovka where poets, artists and musicians were mixed. And that was quite natural to us – to make efforts to bring poetry into collaboration with other forms of culture, to find for poetry an equal position amongst these forms. But we just pushed some boundaries further, of course, not more. I think that poetry nowadays both in writing and performing can be also quite classically oriented. Poetry could be very different. We never said that every poet now has to record with trip-hop stars and to make videopoems. For some authors it suits well, for others – absolutely not. But if we are crossing boundaries we are getting new audiences which were not so “literature oriented” before, that’s for sure. When we were performing in the clubs some young people came after and said: “We are surprised, we never thought that modern poetry could be just about us and what we feel…”

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Natalia Fedorova