Poets’ message, by Vlada Uroshevikj
“When decades ago, in the summer of 1961, twelve Macedonian poets – one of whom was myself – gathered in Struga to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the publication of Miladinov brothers Miscellany, a collection of popular songs and tales, no one, except themselves, would even dare think that our modest gathering at that time would develop into a big international poetry festival whose name would become known and respected even in the furthermost countries of the world. The poets, evidently, managed to fulfill their vision. The festival constantly grew, surviving difficult times that endangered its existence, and today it stands out as, perhaps, the oldest poetry festival in the world which, as you may all witness, is still alive and flourishing.
In a world where poetry is shoved aside, where writing poems becomes an activity not adequately appreciated by the wider public, the celebration of poetry at a festival such as the Struga Poetry Evenings is a noble and highly moral act. We must admit that the poet nowadays is an individual who neither attracts much attention nor recieves much honour: the poet is no longer a shaman who has the power to call forth the rain, or a courtier who sings in honour of his ancestors’ or contemporaries’ heroism; he is no longer useful even as a people’s tribune, or as a political agitator. Then – what is it that keeps this strange creature still acting in a rather unusual way, by using verse, a form of expression, which today many people find oldfashioned and obsolete?
What maintains the life of poetry is – resistance. Every act of writing poetry in the world today is a kind of resitance. Until recently in these areas it was resistance against the attempts to make poetry a tool of the overexaggerated idelogization in service of the political elite. Today, the poem has become a kind of resistance against the more and more intense and merciless materialization of everything that exists. The world says: “Everything’s on sale!” The poem answers: “Everything but me!” Even the most amateurish love poems by a young poet-beginner are a reflection on the rebellion against the realization that everything might be reduced to the prosaic relaity, that human esistence has no other meaning but seeking for the easiest way to the cheapest comfort and false satisfaction. There is something more than the material benefit, the poem claims, no matter what kind of experience it is drawn on; there is something more, rising above the everyday common living. There is certainly much more than that, the poem says, no matter what its theme is about.
What is above the mercantile and utilitarian purposes that prevail in the the world and space we live in is the faith in higher values, the endeavour towards spirituality that enobles the human being as a creature, it is the faith in the ideal, the dream, faith in something that brings neither material profit, nor a significant position in the world where the direct material benefit is the precondition for existence.
Poetry has always been a kind of diagreement with what reality brings to us.
That is the reason why every poetry festival, not only this one that we have but also every other one, is a kind of an expression of public disagreement with what our world offers to us. “That is all I have to offer”, says that world. “That is not enough to me,” the poet replies. “I want something more – something higher, unreachable, deeper.”
And when poets from so many different countries come together to voice their disagrement in different languages – that is an extraordinary moment. A moment when, however briefly, sharing a however small, but free stronghold of poetry, the poets disregard politics, mercantilism, profit, material gain, and the respective privileges they bring, the greed for power and governance, then their main task is to overthrow the shackles of necessity and to reject the mundane – their main goal being to reach the unreachable.
The task the twelve Macedonian poets set to themselves back in 1961 was exactly to reach the unreachable. And today, this edition of the Struga festival confirms the fact that it is still possible.”