Day one actually began the night before, as I travelled overnight to Manchester and met M in the early hours of the morning to catch our first flight to Frankfurt. When I think back to that morning, when we were both tired from lack of sleep, and excited to begin our adventure, it feels not so much a long time ago but of another order of time altogether; not so much then (compared to now) as - belonging to some other story, an excerpt from a different tale involving people who resemble us, but who are not us, in much the same way as a dream self is not the self we comfortably identify with though it may be a greater self a more expansive self, a self we recognize from some other time.
But if I continue in this vein the narrative will not be told, will it? The places the people the what happened next-ness of it all, which is what people like to hear or read about, is not there. But it is not easy to describe the sequentiality of it as if it was an almond to be placed between the teeth and crunched to extract the savour and the juice of it. I can only write from a place that has come to live inside me, that has become myself for all I know, at any rate something has changed in me as a result of the speeded up time spent in Ukraine, of the intensity of places and activities, of the compression of events, the interactions - in words in various languages, in gestures made as you get to know other people - and to try to talk about myself in the past becomes an unbridgeable paradox for how can the me of this moment talk about the me of the past as if it was the same which it clearly is not?
So we will resolve this by adopting another name for this person-in-the-past who is clearly now somewhat of a creation, as all memory is, though based on my own experience; it is a construct a creative imaginative - alter self. That's why it is hard to talk about it with authenticity. Poems are authentic, they arise from this moment. But the dates, the street names, the buildings, the facades and the furnishings, the lighting and the decor, the subtle or the swift movements towards or away from others, the numbers of people in theatres, the numbers of metres high, (looking up at the huge theatre in Rivne with its doric supportive columns outside, its marble columns inside, looking down on the Dnieper river from the 7th floor of the Hotel Salute in Kyiv), the way the sun came up above the flat horizon, misted like a mirror you have leaned too close to, in your desire to see more clearly - ah, all such concrete facts I am unlikely to be able to write about, and so you will learn nothing of the journey, nothing tangible of the experiences, there will be no smooth flow of this then that.
Unless I turn it into the story of an alter self, a 'character' bearing a different name, someone else's story. Yes I could do that, pick and choose from what's already there, select, create characters out of those glorious beautiful people who have drifted dream like through my life altering its sequences and its rhythms, the musicality the lightness, the mode of recognition, the reach of reception I can hear, of hands I can almost touch, of stars' reflections I can almost feel falling from the sky, almost feel the weight of them, and ....
...but if I let details become too specific, too close, I will have to hide behind this alter self, this character, and - for now, let's just say that...
M and I got to know Frankfurt airport rather well, because of our first flight delayed, and we missed the second one which involved a lot of waiting in queues and walking from one area to another, and trying to contact Anna who was to meet us, with the updated information.
But a feast of planes! Whatever the word is for an aggregate of planes...
And finally the arrival, met at the airport by Mila and driven to the reception at the Foundation of Culture in Kyiv, to drink and eat and meet the other participants, then back to our hotel.
The next morning, we were driven through Kyiv (so all photos were taken from the bus, with limited views!)
|Street in Kyiv|
|Opposite the Maidan|
to Taras Shevchenko University, glorious, soaring and colourful, to read there.
Followed by lunch, a meeting with the press. Evening readings took place in the grandeur of Kyiv's National Theatre.