Vėjo žvilgesys / Wind Sheen  

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Dan Monceaux
© DANimations 2002

 

Antanas A. Jonynas , a Lithuanian poet in the foreword says:

Lidija Šimkute's poems, many are intimate miniatures, original and expressive with a philosophical spiritual tendency. The author, subtley and precisley creates an original "metaphysical landscape" with unexpected connections. Having a sound knowledge of both languages allows the author free reign to intergrate the original with the translation.

 

Imelda Vedrickaitė        

Embracing Emptiness. Lidija Šimkutė‘s Poetry Mandalas.  
Shortened from Review as shown in CV

Lidija Šimkutė“s poetry is renowned for its minimal accents, aestheticism and striving towards universal knowledge through personal experience. Šimkutė‘s work is homogenous, without major shifts in theme or form experimentation. It is virtually a reading of eternal signs.

      In the collection „Wind Sheen“ the poems gather around four symbolic centres – cosmogenic elements:- water (first ycle „Ocean Hum“, fire (third cycle:„Sun Doors“), air (fourth cycle „Wind Sheen“), tree/earth (second cycle Echo of Trees). These elements appear in most of the cycles.. . . . The whole collection is united by light – sheen. Šimkutė highlights a non-earthly shine, death‘s enticing threshold, and a tendancy to break through earthly forms. Similar parameters dominate the poet‘s feelings of space. She often introduces figures that can be clothed or figures that cover . Their concentration is centered around emptiness, death‘s nucleus (at the same time birth or the beginning). It‘s an original way of composing space via the mandala principal . The opening poem „Sheets of Rain“ is characteristic of Šimkutė‘s use of symbols. This peace rendering poem comes to terms with destiny and the laws of nature.

 

SHEETS OF RAIN

cover my world

silver birds glint

through light

a ripple in my white cloth

 

the stillness of sea-shell

washes out into sand

 

        In Rhodes, observing the everyday life of fishermen next to a cemetery by the small house of Lawrence Durrell inspired “The Old Man”.  This poem unfolds another variation of a clothed figure and the harmony of the beginnings of man and woman. Deep and subtle meanings are elucidated through the fisherman’s net (man) and curtain knitting (woman) images

 

THE OLD MAN

sits with his back

against the tomb

mending his nets

 

his wife

knits green sea

curtains in the shade

 

walking among the

stones I unravel

sleep

 

Šimkutė’s poems often merge world forms with the human form.

 

WHEN EYES

follow clouds

behind

the white ceiling

 

plaster and skin

memory

and pain

 

become one

white shadow

 

Many of the poems remind the reader of a quick sketch that encompasses the observation of “the present” and intuition of the eternal. Eastern poetry minimalism, at least in its formal sense characterizes Šimkutė’s poetry in part as her short poems only strive for a minimalist form. For example the poem “Red Bread” gathers its strength from Christian symbolism and could remind the reader of an erotic Haiku or Tanka form.

 

RED BREAD

 

blue wine

 

my love’s silent hair

 

     Small things which open to cosmic dimensions interest Šimkute. The reader can observe a Zen world outlook and traces of Buddhist teachings on sunyata, (in Sanskrit sūnya, means „emptiness“).

 

THE BLUE WOOL

 

hung entangled

in her hands

 

she followed the thread

to its end

 

she buried her hands

in the sand

 

her eyes entered clouds

her hair spread

dune grass

 

with lips of coral

she touched blue sand

 

and lost her fingers

                   to the sky

 

The forces of nature are important in Šimkutė’s poetry for her body and soul speech. They eliminate the difference between the “I”–world and soul-body. In her poetry the body merges into the universe, and the two worlds unite. In this poem Šimkutė shows a capacity of refining her personal experience to a mythical universality.

          However creativity, ability to cast spells and identify with the world’s ecstasy also reminds the reader of death’s existence. In the poem “My Father” the speaker, or more precisely the dreamer, intimately touches one of life’s greatest mysteries – the mystery of death.

 

MY FATHER

emerged from the coffin

and told me it could be

mine in the year to come

 

I’m bored

he said

 

below all is water

and above hungry dust

 

he tilted his head

 

by the light of his match

 

I saw neither myself

                     nor another
 

        This poem’s, as all the collection’s (and the earlier “Spaces of Silence”) principal is to omit the title and turn it into an integral part of the poem. In this way the author achieves an on-going mysterious effect which unfolds the poetry’s universal intimacy.On reading, the poem stirs the reader’s mysterious experience . . .with one’s own beginning and soul’s identity.. . .The living person is unable to have a meaningful conversation. . . .  According to Emanuel Levine “the closeness of a face is “the birth of meaning”. The father is not a participant in conversation, but one who reminds us of impending death. . . . .The promise of re-birth – the light of a match, blinds the living, and they, not the “deceased parent” depart from meaningful existence, unable to “see faces”, unable to become part of meaningful interaction. Perhaps here the need to call on the bird (angel) symbol renews connection with world harmony:
 

CLOSE MY LIPS

with your voice

seagull of

velvet eyes

 

let us become sky

                breathing

                       sun

According to one of Buddhist teachings of sunyata, the world is comprehended as a whole in which there is only ”emptiness”. Emptiness is compared with the mystical body of Buddha which is similar to nirvana. Canonical literature understands emptiness in two ways. Firstly, one doesn’t have substance or “real reality”, and secondly– emptiness is Absolute - the essence of all things.. . . From it comes a Voice that recognizes the Speaker through the help of intuition.
 

I KNEW YOUR VOICE

before your name

 

paper soaks up

the remains of an instant

 

in colours

                of ink

                       and blood
 

It seems that Šimkutė intuitively recognizes the Way of emerging world symbols through His voice, and thereby her poetry nears the Absolute.

 

S. Katkauskaite

Extract form review of bilingaul  poetry collection Wind Sheen by   (translated from a Lithuanian Canadian publication “Teviškes žiburiai” July 24, 2007.

Wind Sheen is the fourth bilingual poetry book. It is renowned for its succinct use of words, strength of feeling and suggestive thought. L.Šimkutė’s poetry is typical of the younger exile generation. The older generation of poets žemininkai (of the earth) who grew up in Lithuania, yearn for their lost homeland and suffer the painful adjustment of living in a new country. Their poetry is often filled with pain and tragedy. The poetry of the second generation who were born in Lithuania but live elsewhere, emerge from two cultures - their motherland and adopted country. Lidija Šimkutė’s poetry is essentially about life in the present. Occasionally she touches on the past.

Lidija Šimkutė has grown up influenced by two cultures and writes in Lithuanian and English, finding evocative words and images to express her inner world and creative thought. Antanas A. Jonynas appropriately writes in the forward: having a sound knowledge of both languages allows the author free reign to express herself in both languages, ‘intermixing’ the original with the translation.

 In Wind Sheen we find images and metaphors that mirror her life in two cultures which compliment each other. Pines, the green Baltic sea, the nightingale’s song or walks in dewy grass, is Lithuania. Palms, eucalyptus, the depth of the ocean and dolphins are images from her adopted homeland, Australia. There is little nostalgia, but an inner joy and understanding that both cultures can enrich a person’s life and art. . . .

Lidija Šimkutė’s poems like Anna Akhmatova’s are very personal, confirming the unity of nature and humanity in their connection, inner freedom and openness to the world.  We can obtain pure joy from reading these poems along with an understanding that the world surrounding us and within us is mysteriously from the same source with repetitions in the eternal life cycle.

Lidija Šimkutė’s poetry displays the author’s capacity to bring across universal feelings and experiences which overstep any one particular culture. 

 See The Poetry of Lidija Šimkutė (I.Poželaitė-Davis) www.slic.org.au – (Culture)


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