Why do people fucking say
The poet Petr Hruška
What the fuck we wanted here
Strength and vulnerability in Petr Hruška's new poems
Right in the first poem of Petr Hruška's fifth volume of poetry, which has the mysterious title Darmata carries, we are talking about a “neat piece of fish”, which with its holy, darkened silver is supposed to bring us back to our original astonishment in the face of the world. So breathlessly, unabashedly and impatiently, reference is made here to an initial “contract” to which we have to stir ourselves up again: What are we damn well looking for in this world? This appeal is underlined by the fact that the poem is dedicated to a deceased friend: the writer Jan Balabán. Someone with whom we shared the adventurous pact with the world and life, but with whom we will no longer bring it to an end.
The eternally glowing silver of the fish
"Nen proper tuna / so that it shakes us up / the eternally glowing silver of the fish" The first verses of the introductory poem evoke a memory, perhaps of a trip where we had smeared fingers with a friend, slapped the fish directly into a newspaper, let the world be the world for a while, along with its strict surveillance. The concrete vision is also full of overarching thoughts that sound almost like proclamations. Back to the elementary experiences when we still knew who we were without having to think about it much; the “heavy silver of the world”, which magically makes you freeze and dazzles, again boldly affirmative; Definitely remember "what the hell we wanted here".
What is important about Hruška's poetry is the way in which it draws from reality, from real situations, feelings or relationships; sometimes an impression is enough. Hruška is not interested in the poetic “superstructure”; he is not interested in a poetic refinement of reality, its lyrical transcription. Quite the opposite: He tries to sense what an otherwise ordinary reality is special and wonderfully powerful, what makes our everyday life extraordinary from the inside out. Another strength of Hruška's poetry becomes apparent here: the poet has the ability to see and bring to light essential moments and values in life. Either he names them or he just shows them to us.
Power and persistent pathos
The undertone in Hruška's poetry is subtle, persistent, sober pathos. This may bother one or the other. You might think that the poet - despite the rough surface of his texts, his feelings - got a little too close and he exposed them too much. To be emotional means to surrender yourself to be vulnerable. If a poet opens up in this way, he tries to express things that are primarily common to all of us and which, paradoxically, can therefore seem downright banal to us. In addition, the poet's vulnerability “threatens” to be transferred to us; that's not necessarily comforting for everyone.
Here, however, Hruška also shows his strength. He is able to open up emotionally while remaining firm and convincing. He communicates something that we all experience and is still able to say it in surprising images. Hruška's civil pathos is a sign that the poet is serious about his things, play or exaggeration are only detours. Reading his poetry, we can be relieved to be serious, by which we mean anything but gloomy brooding. Without further ado, we are left alone with our lives.
It is precisely his vulnerability that is a powerful weapon for the poet. In the end, we want to share it, want to expose ourselves to these pensive insecurities, these fragile, delicate but elementary insights that often come along in inconspicuous disguise. In the room, the daughter puts on an evening gown, and the poet understands: “I will never see my daughter's breasts again…” Elsewhere, there is tension in the slacking couple relationship, the fear of the growing up of the children who are exposed to unfortunate times . Uncertainty about oneself as to whether one has lived properly: "I wanted to have all of this somehow, / not owe anything, / to finish things off well."
However, Hruška's poems also contain a whole lot of clenched fist and underlying anger. The human world is nothing world-changing, but rather a disappointment. We are not even able to blind ourselves, and a lot of what we could or would have wanted has slipped through our fingers. The silver has turned gray. Hruška always takes stock of everyday existence, suggesting what he has to reproach himself for in his couple and parenting relationships. Usually the first impulse is intimate, then the confidentially speaking poem usually expands further and in the end results testifies to what we all experience, what our time is like.
A poem that begins with astonishment at the singing of one's own wife in the early morning after a night of partying immediately turns into a sigh in the face of a world in which "decent people sleep through ruin" and the clear, simple singing of the Woman will soon be drowned out by the howling of the heap. If we don't listen to one another, if we don't pay attention to the inner simplicity and purity of ourselves and others, we will soon hear nothing at all in this world.
The world a confused gift
"Boy (...) / Today at the river / did you yell something at me / over the shallow rapids / and you couldn't be understood / it sounded like / Darmata! / Pissed Darmata! ”The cry that gave rise to the enigmatic title of the collection is incomprehensible. However, here father and son are in one situation together. As if their joint participation in this strangely tense, mysteriously significant moment was more essential than the actual communication. In the collection, Hruška consistently unfolds the essential, but slowly but surely, a bit worn-out topic of disrupted interpersonal communication. However, it does not offer simple “starting points”. In vivid, haunting, sometimes downright painful images, he comes to the realization that human togetherness has to bridge the broken down communication. The river rushes, the scream is incomprehensible, but we are here, it is given to us to walk through this moment together, its secret defines us.
The child's motif is important for Hruška. Children mean that we are at the mercy of the world. It is our children that we protect and are responsible for. At the same time, however, we are also children ourselves who did not come here of our own will. We are being held hostage - and we are responsible; Many of Hruška's verses revolve around this axis. Don't lose yourself, but don't disappoint either. To be armed with the ability to observe and understand, but at the same time preserve the valuable, fragile defenselessness, like a beggar keeps his most precious alms: “You pressed and caressed your hat / when your mother asked me / whether love tells me something. "
The riddle word Darmata appears as an anagram. Little ones play each other all the time dramata - Dramas - from, somewhere in the background, knots of misunderstandings, errors, inadequacies. But there are other hidden meanings as well. Above all, the gesture itself, the picture: the boy's incomprehensible call across the river. Perhaps one could also understand it this way: What did you give me there? What kind of tangled gift is that? What to do so that I don't - bowel - get stuck in it? Hruška's seemingly simple poetry brings up disturbing, surprising questions, it harbors an unusual, but very human insight into the secret of the “everyday” world and our stay in it.
Jan Štolba is a poetry and prose writer and a musician.
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