Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What is our place in the "Estonian Forest" | Tartu

Leonard Lapin: Estonian Forest, 1994/2017.
Virolaisen taiteilijan Leonard Lapinin vuoden 1994
teossarjaan kuuluva installaatio "Virolainen metsä"
on istutettu uudelleen Tarton
taidemuseoon (Vanemuise 26).

I should talk about the Nature poetry, but I find out thinking more about nature of  the Poetry. In English speaking countries, the word "poetry" would get the crowd scattered faster than a fire hose. They hate poetry, because it's like intellectual shit, something which we don't need anymore.

Who said so? It was Georg Orwell 1943. Seventy four years later, and after language- and digitalpoetry, problems of poetry are almost similiar, if we are talking about the crowd. But how is the world. Are the changes different today than in Orwell's time, just under the Second World War? Are the changes in the nature more affective than the war, if it's beginning in North Korea?

And how the poet should react for the changes? (And, have to remembered, may be: If you love George Orwell, never read his poems. Mr. Orwell may have been a brilliant essayist and novellist of course, but the poems, put it politely, are not terribly good.) May be it's easier to give good advices than make a poem about nature, for example. Or, how a finish guy can tell anything about nature poems to the nenetsian poet, who is living with the nature ‒ and in the very different nature than mine?
***
Today Nature poetry leads us to the fundamental complications of thinking, writing, and politics. At the end of the day, nature poetry is not about individual texts or the correct interpretation of art; instead, it is about our survival.
A writer who is a poet by nature has difficulties knowing what we are talking about when we broach the topic of “nature”. Where is the dividing line between nature and culture (if it ever existed) when current technology is able to create living organisms?
What is the nature that modern man is destroying?
Anthropocence means ecological and social state of emergency. So-called official narrative of the Anthropocence is characterised by powerfull images of dystopy as well unproblematised epistemic burdens.  F.eg. the scientific facts of global climate crisis has to been seen different, not as one way road to the light but many paths, which take care of different kind of human beings and archaic societies.1

And mostly out of this global moneylogic are minorities, just as nenetsies, saami people and all finnougrians on Russian side.

So, what is the poetry that we humans have thus far implemented and that is now also expected to take the future of our planet into consideration? Is the nature of an animal something else, something which can be reached by, for example, the Sami artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää more readily than by academic scientific knowledge?

While climate change is, for science and scientists, an undeniable fact, writing poetry about it is a greater challenge than ever. It is a question of more than basic facts ‒ it is a question of small details which make language enjoyable in the tsunami of societal, gender-polarized, racial, and geographical information.
Whose voice rings out as nature is destroyed? Are the poets who write their lines on wood and paper responsible for the ecocide of forests? Is it possible for a poet to write about nature, or anything else for that matter exclusively in the name of humans?
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In classical Chinese poetry, man and nature blend, the same way I try to blend words and images online. That is why the motto of my blog Word and Image ("Kuva ja sana | Word as Image") is a text by the Chinese 11th century artist Guo Xi:
A poem is a painting without form,
and a painting is a poem with form.
But my blog is more nostalgic than reality. My words and images are very far away what's really happening in western nature poetry. F. eg. American John Ashbery said it this way in the poem ”And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name”, which begins:

You can’t say it that way any more. 
Bothered about beauty you have to
Come out into the open, into a clearing,
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you
Is OK.

Since the 1980s poetry has effectively moved away from the printed page. From the early days of the minitel to the personal computer as a writing and reading environment, we have witnessed the development of new poetic languages. Video, holography, programming and the web have further expanded the possibilities and the reach of this new poetry.
Now, in a world of clones, chimeras, and transgenic creatures, it is time to consider new directions for poetry in vivo. F.eg. Brasilian Eduardo Kac and Canadian Christian Bök are using biotechnology and living organisms in poetry as a new realm of verbal, paraverbal and nonverbal creation.
As well as separating natural and artificial things based on human observational ability, it creates new opportunities for enjoyment. As Canadian Christian Bök's work The Xenotext (2014), where "DNA-poem" begins ”any style of life/ is prim” and organism gives an answer: "the faery is rosy/ of glow”.
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But in the poem of Valkeapää it's a question of the Sámi being part of nature, not just close to it. Poems of Valkeapää are not just descriptions of nature or the close relationship between man and nature, which Western Nature Poetry has attempted to describe.

And how it's going on with you? I like to test with one poem of Valkeapää. Pekka Sammallahti's translation of the poem "69" had published in the collection Aurinko, isäni, 1988.

askel askeleelta
vihreän, kevätvihannan tuoksu
liekovarpiot
         väinönputki
                  tunturihapero
                               ylängöillä tunturijärvet
         taivastavasten
huippu huipulta
         nämä maat
                       laaksot
                      laakio laakiolta
                                     vuoma vuomalta
                                                  jokilaaksoon
kermikkäkentät
vasakankaat
vasontamaat

This poem may be a reindeer observation or a reindeer and a human joint journey. But it is not a silent meditation in the face of natural phenomena, as has been the case in literature. It's about nature culture, a series of partnerships, continuos and breaks. People and non-human, both animals and plants, are interconnected.

Poem of Valkeapää tells us that man's daily relationship with other beings is something that can open paths to all kinds of encounters. Being in the world of humans is about connections, relationships, and their agreements to their living stream. I think, taking this into account today is a good ethical ground for the author of the nature poetry too.

1)
When I was speaking about "Nature poetry" in the XIV Congress of Finno-Ugrian authors Tartu 24.8.2017, poet, translator and producer Johanna Domokos gave me  Tzveta Sofronieva's collection of poems Anthoroszene (hochroth 2017). Sofronieva criticizes using word antropocene in nowadays discourse almost same way as in the paper Tiede &Edistys (1/2017) in Finland: "We do not need sediment layers to inspire us with what we want to preserve and yet destroy - insignificant to the planet as a planet, but essential to the earth as our home - and to take note of what we specify and how we do Self-portray."
2)
The first version of this text has been published in the web page paper Noesis (21.3.2017) here.

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