Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Zhytomyr - Terra Poetica Festival 3

Zhytomyr - Day 4 

Stamp of old Zhytomyr

The season rolls over, turns cold the next day, in Zhytomyr. The air is damp and icy, we have become frost-framed, edged and draped with chill, the autumn eternity is left behind in Ostroh and winter pours into our opened palms. Mutely, we let it in and walk quickly to heated buildings. At the University we are greeted by the Rector, then give readings to the students, who are alert, welcoming, curious.....Do you think that poetry cannot come from a state of happiness? (i.e. do you have to be miserable to write poems?) What inspires you? What is your favourite poem? Do you have a regular routine in your day?  Is your style different now from what it was when you started out writing? If you weren't a writer, what would you be? Have you read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master & Margarita?  (yes, I have)

Afterwards we walk to the restaurant on Mykhaylivska, the pedestrian area, the piano of freedom painted in blue and yellow.

Laughter in the Space Museum: photo credit Yaroslav Karpetz


 In the evening there is another reading, this time in the Cosmonaut Museum, the Aeronautical and Space Museum (I want to give it all the adjectives and more, because of its dim lighting, because the penumbra obscures the ceiling, which surely must be there). From this invisible ceiling hang enormous pieces of a spaceship engine, like a giant floating fish, and chairs too, are suspended, so you can lie back and swing and feel that you are weightless, near disembodied in the semi-darkness and the muted sounds and, in the dim regions beyond the stage and audience, the way that people move around like peaceful quiet shadows…. 

Writers & musicians after the performance in the Space Museum: photo credit Mariya Khimych

Your streets are wide and cold right now, in Zhytomyr, with the trees lining the streets, the trees losing their leaves, the bare patches, the splash of red among the yellow and the branches looking bare, looking bereft, in front of the gold dome of the cathedral. Façades in blue and green and rose, with your interiors of red embroidery, of red and white design and smell of coffee, warm warm people.....


And the reception afterwards, the plates piled high, short speeches, one toast followed by another, champagne, wine, cognac and clinking glasses.

The Chairman of the Writers' Union says: On the day the festival comes here to Zhytomyr, on the day that poetry sounds out, the guns fall silent. (no Ukrainian soldier was killed that day.) We raise our glasses.

Piled with presents, books, pens and notebooks, magnets of Zhytomyr, wall plaques with the symbol of Ukraine, and personal books from friends we've made, we climb into the bus, head back to Kyiv.


The Solitary Walker said...

So wonderful it sounds, Dritanje ... the whole experience.

dritanje said...

Thanks solitary walker, it certainly was. I'm in a warmer place now away from the bright lights doing some solitary walking myself, though nothing as ambitious as your amazing walk through France & Switzerland!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Exciting to have visited the Space Museum and strange to be in a country when half of it is at war.
Suddenly it's really cold today....quite a shock....I have to find some gloves!

dritanje said...

Thanks Ruby it was indeed strange to be there knowing that fighting was taking place in another part of the country but so many times they thanked us for coming and showing our support for them by taking part. Such warm & amazing people.
M xx