Nerijus Cibulskas

- Lithuania -

Nerijus Cibulskas was born in 1987 in Kaišiadorys. He graduated from Vilnius University where he studied Lithuanian language and literature. He worked in the library of Vilnius University, wrote articles to Lithuanian culture media: “Metai“, “Šiaurės Atėnai“,,,, still writes to the magazine „Valstybė“.  

First poetry publications appeared when in school. In 2012 he won the First Book competition organized by the Writers union, and his debut poetry collection Nutrinami was published. He was one of editors of Anthology of Poetry Spring Festival in 2016. His second book Archeologija was published in 2016 and was awarded the Young Yotvingian Prize, wich is the most important prize for young poets in Lithuania.

His poems were published in the main magazines and Anthologies: „Metai“, „Naujoji Romuva“, „Literatūra ir menas“, „Šiaurės Atėnai“, „Nemunas“, „Krantai“, „Gintaro lašai“, „Literatūrinės Vilniaus slinktys“, „Poezijos pavasaris“, „Poetinis Druskininkų ruduo“, „Vilnius Review“.

Time of a Melancholy Youngster

Nerijus Cibulskas, who has won the prestigious First Book Competition held by the Lithuanian Writer’s Union, debuted with the Nutrinami (The Deleted) poetry book in 2012 and in 2016 his second collection titled Archeologija (Archeology) was granted the Young Yotvingian Prize.

Therefore, Cibulskas is a popular poet beloved by readers and colleagues. Critics often describe his poems as calm, moderate, melancholic and somewhat close to (Neo)Classicism. Youth and classical forms, calmness and moderation might just look an unusual combination, do they not?

The poet himself claims that a detail, an image and their possibilities of meaning are of particular importance: “For instance, you take a detail and develop it. The most significant influence here is probably made to me by Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. I like the fact that he keeps spontaneity, invokes a detail and reveals it.” Therefore, neoclassicism is first of all relevant to Cibulskas as a world managed by vision. Images are used as the poetic language and the open expressions of feelings are rare. Shadows covering visible objects, landscapes or their fragments, light flashes highlighting sharp corners make the reader guess what is going on inside the observer, what is the relation between him and what surrounds him. For this reason, poems by Cibulskas remind of photographs or entire albums of images, places and events.

Landscapes by Cibulskas are slightly lacking vividness, they remind of a museum (“museum is a benchmark of dust”, Archeologija). However, it shall not be claimed that the passive statics is dominating: there is tension surrounded by action which, however, is mostly implicit and almost unfelt. The poetic world of Cibulskas slightly reminds of silence before the imaginary storm – thread (o changes, forgetfulness, loss) never come true completely. An occurrence reminds of a visible, horizon which is, however, unattainable, situated somewhere there in the future for good: “My curiosity is a transparent animal secretly / drinking from an empty neighbouring well. / All future summers are spending winters there” (Archeologija). A poem titled Trofėjus (Trophy) (Archeologija) is perfect as long as it is related with the unfulfilled expectation of life and revival. The attempt to revive “a dirty small world” which “is undermined and not raised by hands by anyone” is formed by means of the image of a stuffed roe deer symbolising non-revival, a former life frozen. Still, the stuffed animal is not revived, and its wet snout does not show up.

As suggested by their titles, both the first and the second books are focused on time as the dialectics of disappearance, loss and retention. Is everything deleted, which means, temporal? Does the past leave no trace once it becomes the past, or, on the contrary, turns into layers which we can uncover at any time? The most important time of the poems encompass childhood and adolescence, i.e. games for children, recollection fragments, friends and childhood as cinema. Past experiences and conditions are constantly twinkling in the present, they show up like phantoms: hours and days move towards different directions (“Keep my calendar, it / only includes hours not knowing / which direction to take”, Nutrinami).

“My texts embody the time of pasts, presents and futures in the most diverse ways possible. To be more precise, I try to embody it, to tighten by means of miniatures flywheels, gears of a poem. However, as it should be, time always liberates itself successfully, sometimes even without suffering. This is what I like best”. the poet claims.

The strategy of dissociation is often applied which is symbolised by second or third person narration. You or he stand or the same me, but he is distant in space and time and recognised as the Other: “Your empty space has become astonishment. / Your eyes seem to be made from the bone domino tile. / You listen more carefully than ever. As if you knew: / the bodies of those whom we dreamed of belong to us, too“ (Nutrinami).

Despite the alleged transparency and calmness, Cibulskas does not avoid risks. Monotony needs to be interrupted, the attention of the perceiver is intensified by means of complex multi-layered metaphors. In the successful cases, such structures reflect complex multi-layered experiences fixed in the images; however, the turn towards pretentious mannerism is also often taken. 

By Virginija Cibarauskė