Lina Buividavičiūtė

- Lithuania -

Lina Buividavičiūtė (born 1986 Kaunas) imė 1986 m. gegužės 14 d. Kaune. Lina studied and finished a baccalaureate in Lithuanian philology and advertising, a masters in Lithuanian literature, and a doctorate in the field of Lithuanian literature. Lina is a poet, literary scholar, critic and tutor of Lithuanian language and biology. Her poems have been published in numerous Lithuanian cultural publications. 

Her first book Helsinio sindromas was published in 2017. She participated in the festival European Literature night in Amsterdam, in the poetry festivali n London, her poems were published in Druskininkai Poetic Fall, the festival Poetry spring, Proverse prize and Matter anthologies.

Nightmares, Personal and Otherwise


I first heard about Lina Buividavičiūtė in 2017 while working at the editorial office of Literatūra ir menas – her submission was striking. I took note of her ruthlessly honest poetry and the very unpoetic, glamorous, somewhat audacious photograph of the author next to the text. Shortly, her first book Helsinkio sindromas was published by Kauko laiptai with a print run of 300 copies.
We had arranged for an interview for the occasion of her book launch. I invited her to my other workplace, a bookstore, and asked her to bring a few of her books so that we could sell them. Lina arrived carrying a little box full of Helsinki syndromes. She did not look like I had imagined her to from reading her poetry. Perhaps I’ve expected her to be rude and a little mad? Such is the case of confessional poetry; when one reads it, they begin to feel as if looking at the X-rays of the writer’s soul and have already found out something about them, like a priest or a psychotherapist, peering into the secrets that are withheld from others. Literary critic Dovilė Kuzminskaitė was accurate when she remarked that “Lina Buividavičiūtė knows what she wants to say and, it seems, has found a way to do it: she proceeds in a specific trajectory and pursues her objective all the while constructing a very awkward and slightly nightmarish world, one so convincing that it forces the readers to ask of themselves whether reading someone’s diary is a decent thing to do, while editing such material requires a lot of willpower”
(“Išrengtieji,” Metai, 2018, No. 1).
During our conversation Lina mentioned that sometimes she too is afraid or repulsed to write on such topics, but the text would otherwise cease being authentic and genuine: “I want to believe that people will recognize something in it. I do hope that my poetry outgrows its confessional confines and becomes
recognitional. My audience are those who have lived in the extremes, who have faced illness.” (“Apie didžiąją ir mažąją Linutę,” Literatūra ir menas, 2017-07-07). I then pondered whether her works will be read by those most detached from the literary field. Her texts are not merely exposed confessions; many of them are intertextually refined with refences to cultural, literary, and theological works, and they combine different realms of the mundane and metaphysical. The lyrical subject debates the definition of a poem. She reaches a conclusion that traumatic experiences by themselves and intimacy do not constitute poetry, by using ironic rhyme with “innocent” words and approaching nightmarish scenes: “Not anything
/ may be / a poem / it may be / a table / label / fable / chair / air / pair / but it cannot be / a pedophile / from your childhood / apartment complex / it cannot be / the fact / that you shat yourself / while giving birth / it cannot be / manic / depression – / for that isn’t enough / for a poem.” (p. 65)
In this book, which came out four years ago, the lyrical subject befriends the hangman – childhood traumas, birth traumas, mental illness – and, as it gradually seems, derives masochistic pleasure from it. Life at times seems too banal, caged in the prison of the body, which is defined by the author’s made-up word that stuck with me to this day – mesėjimas.[1] When things get difficult, the lyrical subject writes poems that are read by their psychotherapist, who becomes the first reader and appraiser of the work. Appraised are not the literary qualities of the poems but the conditions that the lyrical subject find themselves in. Traumatic and recurring childhood experiences make it possible to drag the “little Lina” out into the daylight and scold her as the one responsible for present “burdens.” The author juxtaposes the trauma of her grandmother, marked by war exile, with that of hers, stating that “everyone burdens us, but not all of us know who and how.” (p. 105).
This substantial poetry collection, which contains a total of 92 poems, echoes with the phrase “to be as it goes” without any shame of oneself, without any attempts at appearing more admirable or attractive: “Bathe / me, I shan’t be whiter than snow. But I will stink less. / I’ll be as it goes. as / the world stops, others race to their contests, their queues, and their lives, / I’ll just be as it goes – until the next swing.” (p. 23). Wading through the dark waters, left fragile, stuck between death, fear, sickness, and the end of yet another episode, the last poem “To myself” is concluded with a hopeful phrase: “Time to live, woman” (p. 132).
I mentioned earlier that Lina had brought a box of copies of Helsinkio sindromas – we believed we’d have a hard time selling them all, as Lithuanian authors, especially poets, are not particularly sought after in our bookstore. We couldn’t have been more wrong: Helsinkio sindromas disappeared from our shelves
faster than we had anticipated and we kept requesting more boxes until they ran out of copies to give. People not only bought her books, but sometimes wished to meet the author and discuss her poetry, patiently lingering in the bookstore while waiting for Lina. At one point it seemed that both Marijus Povilas Elijas Martynenko and Lina Buividavičiūtė (during a performance, they once read each other’s poetry dressed in clothing of the opposite gender) were the foremost representatives of Lithuanian confessional poetry, though I consider her poetry to be more subtle
and sophisticated. I once saw Lina on a lifestyle TV show that usually features celebrities and various successful characters. It looks like her wish to reach a wider readership has finally come true.

Jurga Tumasonytė