Agda Bavi Pain

- Slovakia -

Agda Bavi Pain is a Slovakian author from Košice. He is a poet, writer, screenwriter and a frontman of the banned music band Liter Gena. Under several artistic names and brands Pain has published works in the press, radio and television in Slovakia as well as abroad. Apart from literature, he also writes for television, film and theatre and has created various TV series, shows and advertising campaigns. His acclaimed provocative debut poetry book Skin & Bone (Kosť & Koža, 2002) was labelled as satanic while his first novel debut, gory gangster novel The End Of The World (Koniec sveta, 2006) was awarded with prestigious The Big Prize for Literature from Eastern Europe Bank Austria Literaris 2008. Two editions of the novel were published in German translation titled Am Ende Der Welt in 2008 and 2014 while the feature film Babie leto based on the book story was the third most attended feature films in Slovakia in 2013. Among other works, Agda published books of poetry Knight without fame and Shame (Rytier bez básne a Hany 2010), Europain (2013), short story books More. Love. Chicks (More. Love. Čajky, 2014), Exit from Eden (Východ z raja, 2016) and theatre plays book Lútkohry (with Gejza Dezorz, 2018). His latest book of poems Pästiarsky list (Fist List) was published in September 2017. The re-edition of his debut poetry book Skin & Bone will be released later this year.

For Agda Bavi Pain's lyrics, contradiction is the driving force of his poetics. There are several literary ways to compensate for the shortcomings of unrestricted individual freedom and Pain finds himself in various viewpoints during his authorship.

In his first three published works he gives vent to the accumulated negative energy that deforms basic human values and such a way of overcoming dark powers naturally includes a certain radical form of expression. By focusing on the most valuable places in the text with value-opposing tools, he is able to turn the real (language) world inside out.

In his poetic Bone & Skin debut /Kosť & koža/, Pain presented the most universal form of his poetic style, as it meaningfully throws away the absolute basis of a person's life — his corporeality, by fatally excluding the flesh through various forms of death. As said before, this variation occurs in the heat of passion. It is irrelevant to raise the question whether such a state is the author's experience or opinion base and attribute to him the sympathy for Satanism, Anarchism, etc. At the level of literature, it is an a priori stylization. And thanks to the choice of such a stylization, Pain was able to develop his creative potential to such an extent.

After a few years, the author shows his fascination with corporeality and death in his prose debut The End of the World /Koniec sveta/, mostly in two stories - Jesoskero Nilaj and And what if someone’s looking at me /A čo keď sa na mňa niekto díva/. The narrative form of expression gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his temperament in a more tangible and explicit way. The holders of meanings are characters themselves (mobsters, drop-outs, and sex offenders), representing the corporeality in its lowest stages and in absolute union with death. The radical form of expression is enriched by religious associations which are developed in quality and quantity in such a way that they create the framework and axes of the narrative — his language, episodes, and storyline. In the case of Jesoskero Nilaj, it is the return of the last judge coming from eternity to usher in the apocalyptic end of the world. And what if someone is looking at me /A čo keď sa na mňa niekto díva/ is a free allusion of purgatory.

The end of the world theme is also presented in the second collection of poems The Knight without a poem or (dis-)Grace /Rytier bez básne a Hany/. At the same time, however, it is the creation of a new world. A new world built on ruins where the inventory of the technological wealth of mankind mixes with the historically purest human virtues - represented by the knighthood - and the most primitive instincts of mankind. The choice of these stylistic devices and especially, the ability to combine them together adds a unique value to the work. Any culturally conventional language form is violated here.

Every twist of meaning, that applies to both previous books, is sharp. However, the meaning is visible to the naked eye. The result of such an approach is the use of so-called puns that are attributed to the author repeatedly. One could say that they are redundant shallow or even narcissistic glosses highlighting the topic if we extracted the selected twists of meaning and used it separately. In the context of Pain's work, however, it is quite the opposite. Transient verbal twists are part of his gesture. They are a condition for the irony in his texts, a condition for absolute fictional freedom to create anything. They are an expression of his distance attitude towards the literal validity of extreme meanings. On the other hand, the choice of sensitive topics is not just Pain’s taste for juicy stories. His authorial project is motivated by the real feelings of individual oppression. And the fascination with death, corporeality, and sex in its hyper-dimensions is a literary expression of this feeling. Finally, where the radicalism of meaning is lost, so does the irony. In this way, Pain's work develops the topic and goes further.

Europain arrives shortly after his work The Knight without a poem or (dis-)Grace /Rytier bez básne a Hany/. The world is falling apart again and putting itself back together. This time, however, it is not a cosmic, unhistorical, or historical world dating back to ancient times. It reflects the present times (or the recent past) and it is more explicit. Here a single word has more delicate quality, it does not long for immediate association, by which it would manifest its decay. On the contrary, it wants to stay in the norm and express its meaning within the context. The poems are subject to consistency within themselves and, probably because of this tendency, there seems to be less consistency of the collection itself.  Two other prose works published shortly after each other are characterized by the changes of a similar nature.

In the book More. Love. Chicks /More. Love. Čajky/, Agda Bavi Pain followed his debut through instinctively driven dropouts or sexual perverts. However, the degree of extravagance in his language has decreased. On the contrary, the sensitivity has increased. This manifests itself on several levels - the author focuses on the detailed description, especially, on the detailed aspect of the situation. While the relevance of words was conditioned by the possibility of their radicalization in the prosaic debut, here the perceptiveness to the essence of what is said intensifies. The observed object is also less manipulated in terms of storytelling. This time, the individual situations follow each other freely.

The consistency of the Pain's concept is remarkable for his authorship. The reader always more or less knows what he can get. The material base consists of a package of themes and motifs, all of which can be found in each of his works. The only difference is the degree of what is accentuated and comes to the foreground and what, on the contrary, remains on the edge and is tangible only through the details.

All his creative starting points — death, sex, corporeality, intimacy, but also social mechanisms, or the manifestation of his own creativity — are elaborated in another Pain’s book of prose, Exit from Paradise /Východ z raja/. Once he uses quasi-realistic optics, second time he uses the principle of allegory, and sometimes more carelessly, it is produced by associating the psychological fantasies. However, even these texts do not reach the highly cadence of the playfulness that characterizes Pain's earlier work. In terms of setting value criteria for the author, this may seem to be a step backwards. However, from the point of view of the author himself, it is the opposite. Pain still innovates his poetic and prosaic style. The invention is not just about finding more complex forms, it is rather about the searching process itself.

The latest poem collection Fistoral Letter /Pästiarsky list/ is an example of this. It is a compromise, finding a balance between the single viewpoints of the previous poetic works. The end of the world rather turns into the end of the regime, politics, the system of a specific time and place, or a person in a specific situation. However, in its positive sense, by finding a suitable way of framing the theme of pseudo-nationalism, to which the individual poems are subject, the inconsistency of the poems inside increases. And the level of the irony and playful twists of meanings increase as well.

Agda Bavi Pain's literary work includes his most recent dramatic texts from the publication Puppets – Phantoms /Lútkohry – Fantomas/, the Zombie Hunter /Lovec zombíkov/ and Panoptikum Frankenstein which he wrote together with Gejza Dezorz, and the work JÁN OŠÍK and The Fujara Avenger /JÁN OŠÍK a Pomstiteľ s fujaru/, of which he is an independent author. The author's literary nature combined with the poetics of Dezorz's puppet theater is reflected in literary texts through the poetics that works uncensored with pop culture and historical backgrounds. This is a productive fusion, mainly because they emphasize the intensity of incorrect humor that has characterized Pain's work from the very beginning. It is a kind of humor that arises in tension, where the most sacred (religious, national, human) aspects of life are put through the optics of the extreme vulgarity, with the knowledge that nothing happens. This is not an incitement to aggression. On the contrary. Agda Bavi Pain's lyrics help to ventilate the feelings and thus, to maintain common sense. After all, in the non-literary reality, we can best enjoy such humor only in the company of our best friends.

Daniel Domorák, 2019