The Week of the Festival: Goran's Spring, Croatia

On How To Start

/ by Marko Pogačar

It’s tepid Sunday, dim and grey, and it’s raining cats and dogs. One of those days when the world is looking down on you, showing your rightful place; Sunday that, as Bukowski – one of the most misused poets of all times – wrote, kills more people than bombs. Sunday in a city neither too big nor too small. Maybe not the one from Lou Reed and John Cale’s song dedicated to Warhol, one you hate and you'll know you have to leave, but definitely not Frank O’Hara’s roaring, flamboyant stock of images, either. What to do with this city, wet, smelling of ozone and sweat? How to make poems here? How to think out the box, write your way out, when the dark lid’s coming down upon you, and the cardboard walls, just about to dissolve, collapse with an uncanny rustle?


Well, get your cape, take an umbrella. Steal one if you need to. Dig that book out from under your bed, unfinished, in a language you can hardly read. Read it twice (dictionary to be used only occasionally), then tell someone you love about it. Play “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as loudly as possible, knowing that this is perfectly true, and there’s nothing in the world you can do to prevent it. Then play some more Joy Division. Dance to the radio. Think about Warsaw, the dirty snow that might still linger there (and a pair of pale blue eyes, sure), the bar you were forced to leave fifteen years ago by means of police teargas. Don’t fail to notice the Catholic-masked bat of fascism lurking through ticking clocks. Accept the water. Enter the shower, and whistle. Would you please put down that telephone? We’re under fifteen feet of pure white snow – the perfect tune to call it a night. Or to start one. Once you’re out of the shower, you are already used to water: Water’s your friend, and there’s nothing stopping you now. Only the door knob, that cold metal nose, hovers between you and the world – the wet one. Accept it: Getting wet is no sin, even in winter. Nothing’s a sin at all.


Now sit down, stretch out, relax. Make sure that you’re not too relaxed, though. The angle your fingers enter the keyboard should be akin to the one that your mind closes with the axes of what? and how? The dead angle you form when about to cope with the tradition which is your lure, your target, your enemy. Forget about Mr. Bloom. Harold, not Leopold. Don’t forget Molly, the queen of monologue. The other queens you’re free to forget; even obliged. Much obliged. Thank you; say to your shadow, that is your faithful friend, partner, conspiratorial colleague. Thank you; say to you cat, even more faithful than your shadow, but blind, restlessly blind. Caress the cat, as you would like the critics to caress the text that’s about to be born. Lie to yourself that you don’t give a dime about them bastards. Finally, believe it and act accordingly. Follow the exact procedure when the reader’s in question. Your reader, your precious. Forget your family. Forget your woman or man, forget both or whatsoever. Get up again. Play some more Joy Division, just because you can. Because you’re the king of your turntable, and because no one has admission to the holy quarters of your little room, well known to mice. Anchor in the shabby throne of your kitchen chair, which is soon to become your writing chair, because that is what’s meant to be. Nothing is meant to be, just death, but – common. Take a deep breath. Exhale.


Now write.

Marko Pogačar

(1984) was born in Split. He published four poetry collections, three books of essays and a short story collection. He is an editor of Quorum, a literary magazine, and Zarez, a bi-weekly for cultural and social issues. His texts appeared in more than thirty languages.