sabato 22 agosto 2015

The Juris Kronbergs’ Human Comoedia by Piera Mattei

Trascrizione della presentazione del libro "Lupo Occhio-Solo" di Juris Kronbergs nella traduzione di Piera Mattei, pubblicata dalle edizioni Gattomerlino, 
che si è tenuta l'8 agosto 2015 nella Biblioteca Nazionale di Riga – Lettonia

Nella foto in alto: Juris Kronbergs e Piera Mattei
Foto al centro: nel pubblico a sinistra Janis Oga, l'organizzatore dell'incontro 
foto in basso: Piera Mattei con Knuts Skujenieks

The Juris Kronbergs’ Human Comoedia 
by Piera Mattei

Let me start saying thank you very much to Janis Oga, who so kindly invited us here  in Riga, giving us also the opportunity to better know this beautiful country and first of all to meet  personally Juris  Kronbergs  whom, till today, I’ve only met in his poetry.
I was also glad to meet Paolo Pantaleo and Pierpaolo Pregnolato of the Damocle edizioni and the author of "Un seme nella neve, poesie e lettere dal gulag", Knuts Skujenieks.  

Let’s now recollect how everything started. Antonio was visiting last year Riga, meeting here scientists, but I had provided him also with good literature addresses . We had from the very good Estonian poet and good friend Doris Kareva, the name and the address of Janis Oga, as one of the most interesting connection  in Riga. So Antonio came to meet him, telling that we will like to know Latvian poets and poetry collections to be eventually translated and published by our publishing house Gattomerlino  edizioni.

Finally Antonio came back to Rome with some books  from Janis, books in English translation with a fronte the original. I read all of them  but  from the very beginning I did not have any doubt about which was the book I will like to translate.  So I called Juris Kronbergs and Juris kindly accepted our proposition.

 This was the book I liked, since it really corresponds to the kind of poetry I prefer.  It is a book not only working on the language, but working on the language to say something, to put questions that are the questions that also science pose to itself.
Vilks Vienacis – Wolf One­- Eye in the English translation– is of a book by Juris Kronbergs about a very personal and tragic experience that opens universal questions and also scientific ones.

To translate a poet means for me living in this other poet’s sensibility and thoughts at least for the entire period of that work. It is a kind of essential and necessary integration of my activity as a poet. So I very carefully choose what I’m going to translate.
Of course when you translate from a foreign  language, even by means of a good translation– as, for many reasons, was the one I had – you really need to be in contact with the author, and Juris was always ready to reply to any question I would pose to him about the book. He also, on my demand, wrote me about the experience that had started the urgency of it.
I ‘ve found so important what he wrote to fully understand these poems, that I asked  him the permission to translate and put at the end of the book.

So I think I can also start to read it here:

Well, difficult to describe, but I´ll try. I had been a diplomat for 5 years, living a rather hectic life - embassy work, 6 children, writing and translating at nights. One day I suddenly discovered a dark spot in my left eye, the next day it had grown bigger (from the bottom, upwards), my field of vision was now quite small. I went to the hospital, they said I should lay down on my back, and they´ll operate next morning. Well, to my surprise, I had a retina detachment. It was my first visit ever to a hospital as a patient. After the operation the doctor said that it went well. I couldn´t see anything with my left eye so I asked if I would regain my sight as it was before. He answered: That you can only dream of. That was a shock! It felt like death had begun to take a part of me.

Well, after the operation I had to stay at home for 6 weeks. All my hectic life had came to a stop. And I was confronted with myself and my half-sight. I had the feeling that my life as it had been, had ended, and that I now had to create for myself a new life. A sort of "mid-life crises", I guess. I wanted to write about my experience, but it didn´t go well until I invented this protagonist, Wolf One-Eye (Vilks Vienacis in Latvian, I liked the sound of it, it seemed also folkloristic), which gave me the opportunity to be very "personal" and "universal" at the same time.”

So the book is the story of how Wolf and his human corresponding figure lost their binocular sight. But, for what concern the human, he finds the way to accept his life in the new condition. In fact the poem put at the end of this volume recalls the one in the beginning and this make us understand that what was dreadful and frightful in the beginning has became more and more bearable and accepted at the end.
Of course the book is beautiful and interesting as a all. There is a particular construction given by a particular consequentiality of the poems, based also on semantic recalls or on sequence of thoughts. But in this collection there are poems that I particularly like, and I would like to read my Italian translation of some of them with Juris, if he likes, reading the original, after this short speech of mine.

I will like to note that, from a structural point of view, this poems collection is similar to the “Divina Commedia”. In fact it starts, not in a symbolic but in a physical sense of the expression, “in una selva oscura”, and in the last poems speaks of having found again not of the same sense of freedom as before, but a new one, may be also a larger sense of freedom and a new special sight. It is as a personal descend to Hell, may be necessary to acquire the real Vision.

I will distinguish here two different kind of visionariness: the first is done by the physical feeling of being part of the Universe, in an infinite Space–Time dimension, the other one is different, out of the Space-Time coordinate, put inwardly. For what concern the first one, in that same email I have cited before, Juris  wrote to me that, obliged to stay home lying in his bed for a while, he read a lot of books about astronomy and scientific studies and definition of  the time dimension.  For what concerns  not the intellectual , but, say, the spiritual Vision, with a certain irony in Vilks Viens Kronbergs writes that at a certain point he understood that he could escape his condition by the window or by the door or, finally, inwardly,  and this was he decided to do. So, as the Agostino  first and then Petrarca affirmed, may be Juris want to confirm that ”In interiore homine stat Veritas”.
But I do not want to go too far away or backward away.

What this book , that I will call an “existential novel in lines”, says is that ”Sight is cast not only in the eye”.
But  coming back to what poetry is able to speak about that also science says, I must here  underling that I was reading, while translating this book, a scientific book written some years after Juris’s. It is The Mind’s eye by the very well known  neurologist Oliver Sacks, that also recalls in that essay the personal experience of losing what is so precious:   a eye – there is an Italian idiomatic expression that is difficult to translate in English “luce dei miei occhi” to speak about something you like as much as your own life. After terrible panic, Sacks understands in his own experience and others’ that mind is  so strong that will make you see: mind can give you the idea of space, but also can create images, or make you recall images of the past, even if you have lost that open window of the mind  that is a eye.

Finding that, using different language, poetry truth corresponds to the science’s, made me love even more this book, that is, as I said, not about lyric sensitivity but about what is in the same time physic and psychic, I will say, what speaks at the same time the language of the body and of the spirit. All is spiritual goes through the body and its modifications. And modification is not necessarily  a loss, it must be taken as an occasion of extending his own humanity and experience. This is also what this book –through its poetry– want to say.

I hope with this short speech to have indicate how interesting, strong, real and human is “Lupo Occhi-Solo”, that I hope others will love as I really do.