11. 01. 2015. 12:14

My God, how many mistakes I've made

The 'Kukorelly' voice is sober, sparse, often playful... always at once personal and impersonal... Insensitive to the meddlesome point of alerting sensitivity. ─ Excerpts from the first collection of poems in English by Endre Kukorelly, published by Singing Bone Press.

Poems with the trade-mark 'Kukorelly,' even when shape and placement matters, are voiced, and their voice is unique. Every outstanding, or even good, poet has his/her particular and unmistakable voice, but the voice of Kukorelly's poems is very special. It is, so to speak, the stuff itself. A way of being (not in the universe), on earth, down to earth, and hovering off the ground, even if, often, by merely an inch. Sometimes, rarely, higher up. In one of his poems quite up to the firmament, where an invisible angel grabs his finger, with one of his feet hanging down.

The 'Kukorelly' voice is sober, sparse, often playful, most of the time awkward, rarely tongue-in-cheek. It is always at once personal and impersonal. This mixture, peculiar and unanalysable, as it is─sometimes more personal, at other times rather impersonal, with the ratio often shifting even in a single poem─is its unique property. Laconic, with a hint of emotions. Insensitive to the meddlesome point of alerting sensitivity. Undisturbed, when disturbed; calm when noticeably amazed.

I once compared this voice, its persona, to Buster Keaton. An unmoved face hiding, and yet somehow expressing feelings and thoughts (doing it, I believe, with the eyes in the context of his face, with his face in the context of his body, with his body moving in the context of a given surroundings and situation). A very sensitive poker-face. A stranger in a land of strange familiarity. Not really estranged: Strange cannot be estranged from strange, however familiar it is. The Kukorelly voice is of the same stuff and vibration as the field where it appears.

I am well aware that voice has been out, banished for many people, writing has been in; and, of course, people write poetry rather than voicing it. Kukorelly’s poems, however, must be heard; they are for the ear; and his sense of voice, of intonation, of kinds of speech is excellent. The poems, as a rule, and of some inscrutable conviction, are quite simplistic, they sound plain, matter of fact, although they are of great invention, and very well crafted. The mixture I mentioned is part matter of fact and part deception. Kukorelly, the source and the maker of the voice, is famous for re-writing (!) his poems, (his prose fiction, as well). The new version may or may not be an improvement over the previous one, but it certainly attests to an unflinching care and concern with which he approaches his creations, and feeds his intention to make the new version perfect, the previous one defective in a process that will only end when the source dries up.

Understatement would be an appropriate characterization if his poems were statements. But can you think a taste? Define a unique voice? Determine a fragrance?

A book of his poems An Herb Garden, published back in 1993, was a selection from his previous four books. He has published many more since, the last one in 2011, but the untitled introductory herb in that garden still smells convincing: "I sit down and hit the keys in a different way. / To play the piano in a great many ways. / If it's in a different way that it must played / well, then, let’s play it in a different way."

The Kukorelly voice, to use a metaphor from music, is a theme of which individual poems are the variations. It is a theme that only exists in variations, and the variations need to be translated.  If my claim is only half way reliable, if it is true that the voice of Kukorelly's poems is the stuff itself, I can only hope that readers-listeners in English of Kukorelly's poems will have a chance to hear what is so unique.

I certainly don’t know how we can overhear a poet's voice from whatever we hear: how our body and mind can be so exquisitely instrumental as to perceive the emergence of evanescent and yet uniquely recurring-resonating voice-sequences, such as, for instance, Kukorelly's. But I know that it's fun, serious fun, and funny that it can be so serious. (Sándor András)

Good God Who Gets to the Bottom of Everything

(1)

Demonstrator falling to the ground
referee with double vision
vehicle striking a mine
girls sentenced to burn at the stake
snowdrop sprouting from the snow
receiver who receives cash
cock made unnecessarily excited
terribly pruned grape vine
pipes that get rusty too fast
loudly rattling car
widow who grew very ugly
enamel that chips off immediately
penalty kick awarded second time
good god who gets to the bottom of everything
19 ex communist countries
woeful eyed
strict.

(2)

Wow how slowly I caught
that ball but I did catch it and
with my left I kicked it to the
middle which made it well curved
no doubt what resulted
what resulted was for now I have to sit down
quickly I should have sat down
I don’t sit I rather squat but
I should lie down from my right
ankle I weaved the ball backwards
nicely between two legs okay
but why did I catch what I caught
so slowly left right slowly a little
move  quickens the person who
breathes much faster and doesn’t
want to breathe so fast rather
he wants to run fast

(3)

The neighbor woman airs her room ventilates
the bedding that billows out flies out and lands
somewhere
a car goes backwards
in a one way street are you interested in
all that I like to do to you asks A to B
but gets no answer because
she’s sleeping reading not paying
attention because the neighbor
beats the dust too vehemently she watches
this fucking turbo mercedes with diplomatic
plates that should get lost already
there is a photo of a demonstrator who fell
to the ground he’ll get beaten up
someone is singing a hungarian folk song
a little girl is screaming her mother is silent
it is not the right thing to do
this is the right thing

Too Much

Like once with my father,
when winter came and winter always came,
I had to get fire wood,

if we had
time or not
I with my father and he with me

to the basement, to the tepid basement smell,
from the third floor running
a race, we’d go

Poetry produces a kind of
wild fiery feeling in the
gut while getting

down, like that, when I write.
Exactly.
Like when I write
a poem.
The feeling penetrates and

from there it goes up to the neck
well done, a bit roughly
running over me..

(2)

It’s too much what he sees,
clings to, clinging, keeps clinging to it or what it was
after all

There is a sea of things coming
from all that used to be,
it’s all the same, it might bore him.

Immense quantities swarming around.
He sees it, he sees out of it and sees inside
it’s too much of all that.

spins, gets tense, gets caught,
stiffens like the skin on a sausage, spins,
get caught. A scratched vinyl.

(3)

Once I measured, many years ago,
how many steps it took from my room across
from the icy-cold garden to the

dining room, but I forgot how many.
Kitchen, dining room, TV room.
Obviously that’s how I entertained myself.

Why I measured it, who knows.
I was bored and I was cold.
Because doing it came to my mind. Nothing

interesting came to my mind, dot, dot, dot, nothing else.
You make a note of it, forget it, don’t really know
where, how much, what happened, why everything is
the way it was, right then right there.

An Herb Garden

When the wind starts swaying
every loose little flower
that shines up front in all of the tiny
nooks or remain behind in deep
shadows of the garden and all
the hidden blades and floating-falling
leaves, the soil, the rocks too and the
red, yellow, scarlet or honey colored fruits

of the garden that burst open
on the rocks and the hard, moist,
springing, bursting seeds that slowly
withering turn faded brown,
and the nowhere to spin-nowhere to run
frightening skyey-earthy, wild and scared
buzzing entities,
dollhouse sheet size ripped wings,
little unstuck foot, the crack of

gentle oil-blue armors, the dripping,
still translucently sparkling,
softly-sharply-painfully torn and
just about or just previously
crushed bodies as well:
When the wind starts swaying
if only one single creamy or green
shining hair-canal is swayed
and if this diligent, drying up,

decaying, falling apart, mouldering and
ready to deteriorate  immense surface
is covered by the haze of a spirit
It is looking upward, the haze lifts up a little bit
in the wind to precipitate again.
The whole garden is listening, staring up.
Listening upwards.
But it has been looked down upon.

Endre Kukorelly: My God, How Many Mistakes I've Made
Translated by Michael Castro and Gábor G. Gyukics
Singing Bone Press, 2015

Translated by: Michael Castro and Gábor G. Gyukics

Tags: Endre Kukorelly