Victorious Dream of a Poet
21 Jun 2012 11:12
Poetry, in our land, has a strange story since the constitution up to now. In none of the historical periods, our poets haven't been influenced by the social crises to such an extent. According to scholars if the post- constitution poetry is divided into two parts- from the constitution up to 1978 and from 1978 till now - we can see that the poetry of the past three decades, which continued the currents of modern poetry belonging to the early years of the constitution, has achieved a new experience under the impacts of the two major social events namely Islamic Revolution and the Sacred Defense. The following is an interview with Abdul Jabbar Kakaie; the poet who –according to his words has turned towards poetry under the influence of war.
IBNA: La'ya Dorfasheh: Abdul Jabbar Kakaie was born on Friday, September 6, 1963; in Ilam. He spent his childhood including elementary education, junior and high school in his hometown and in 1981, he got the diploma in economics.
In 1982, he moved to Tehran and continued his studies in Persian language and literature. In 1994, he was graduated and got his MA and became at the same time a permanent employee in the Education Ministry, but he focused his activities mostly on singing poems and songs, performing literary programs on IRIB and writing in the press as well.
He has previously been responsible as a secretary, an executive manager or a faculty member in several National Congresses of poetry- but as he says- right now he has got no executive or managerial position and just serves as a permanent employee of Education Ministry, agent on the Institute for Compilation and Publication of the works of Imam Khomeini (RA).
Kakaie has already published 14 books among which the most important ones are, "Comparative Study on Iran & the World Resistance poetries", "Your Voice is Right", "A Rare Opportunity", "The Years Ever" and "Imaginary Garden".
- When did you exactly start your poetic activities, and was there any person or a current that affected you to do so?
My poetry was mainly affected by the war, in 1980-81, when indeed the murmurs of the war started and consequently our country was virtually engaged in the war, all the ideas I had before about the world collapsed suddenly. The war was the biggest exciting and emotional event that I witnessed during my life.
In such a situation, I think no one is able to be a poet! Before this, I thought the glob was safe, in the shadow of political systems of those who governed it, but when I saw my city being bombarded for six or seven months and my people were continuously killed I suddenly felt a strange insecure.
All those adventures I think were mainspring strong enough to motivate an individual to go towards poetry and I did so as well. Perhaps it can be said that the main issue I addressed, was the war martyrs. The first poem I read in a group was in 1982. When I had come to the Rey Teacher Training College, some of students had informed Mr. Afzali, the Dean of the Center, about my poetic initiative.
Mr. Afzali who was himself a literati, asked me to read a piece of my poetry, and some of the interpretations I had applied in it were interesting to him. For example I had said somewhere in the poetry:"-where the sea passed through the river-", referring the corps attended to "Fathulmobin Operations". There I had used a simile and had compared the body of soldiers as a sea waves passing through a river. This caused Mr. Afzali to talk about it for a while giving several examples quoted from the great early poets. In this way I continued to write poetry until the two or three mounts later when I met Alireza Qazveh who made me do the job more seriously.
- How you met Mr.Qazveh?
He was at that time in charge of the literary page in "Omid-e Enqelab Magazine" to which I sent a poem of mine, when I had been a student at Persian literature in Tehran Teacher Training College. After he had read the poem, he had come to the training college to invite me to join the magazine, but haphazardly I was absent and he had left me the address.
Eventually, several days later I went to the address, the head office of "Omid-e Enqelab Magazine". Mr. Qazveh was scheduled to go to a mission, thus I was replaced with him to work as the Literary Page Executive and from where I acquainted with Hozeh-ye Honari-e Sazmam-e Tabliqat-e Islami. After a while When Qazveh came back, we worked together in the magazine and on Thursdays, we joined the Hozeh-ye Honari Circle, I mean the late Seyed Hassan Husseini, Qeisar Aminpur and Salman Harati. Every Thursday, from 5 to 9 pm, they gathered there together to read poems and criticize literary works.
After the war, the literary atmosphere of the country gradually changed. The intellectual and liberal circles flourished; and especially since the early 1990s upward, under the leadership of some well-known poets the post-modern poetries were more welcomed and specifically many youths were attracted to the circles.
-What about you?
No, I had no relation with involved circles other than Hozeh. But those you mentioned were mostly the currents which were formed in 1990s, I mean after the 1980s' Social Literature; once again the 1970s' Formalists gathered together; well; not exactly the same persons, but those who inherited their theories any way.
Content-orientation in the poetry of 1980s annoyed the mind due to repetition. Thus there occurred a kind withdrawal towards form and language, particularly a tendency towards Technicalism existed among youths and naturally when there is an excess in a field of activity, it causes consequently a tendency of skimpy, but neither was so attractive.
The moderate form of this flow occurred probably in the decade of 2000, when both of them i.e. the form and content together are at the service of making a contact with the audience. Now some poems are made that are very simple, I mean: they are not so technical however being simple, they enjoy theme as well. It seems that once again the poets are saying sagacious words.
I think imagination minus wisdom and thinking is nothing but a stunt which cannot create a respectable status for the poet at all. Imagination should be backed by sagacious word and sage words come from knowledge and awareness. The poet hence must be aware of his environment and this awareness and knowledge should be transferred through his poetry to the audience. Fooling the audience he cannot take this burden from his shoulders and say: I do not have a duty to teach wisdom or transmit any idea to you, I only have to imagine!
-But the hegemony of modern thinking- specifically as we go ahead of the 1990s and 2000s- became more in the poets, that is, their point of view became more personal and the general attitude the ancients had about Man and the world, became gradually weak. In other words, those sage aspects –in a way that you are saying- are absent in the poetries of these two decades; aren't they?
By wisdom, I don't mean the divine wisdom, rather I mean the sort of concerns, attitude and worldview as well.
Yes, worldview is variable; I accept it. I think the sort of attitude the sages had may no longer be renewed, since man is going towards looking at the universe as detail he has made himself as a base of the universe and this is a reality and I believe, it doesn't contrast with saying wise words or talking based on knowledge and awareness.
The universe can also be interpreted based on human, but the question is whether poetry shoulders the responsibility to say and learn something to its addressee; or it must be without instruction, awareness, knowledge and sense at all? The question is that: a sensible poetry requires to be binding; or it is part of its nature? I agree with the later; or if not, at least let's say: knowledge and awareness just like motifs or arrays make poetry more sweet and beautiful.
- You mean then that any poetry should necessarily be of sense that is to say something wise?
Of, course! Any good poetry! I am trying to have no "obligation" or "must" in my words. My personal believe is that a good poetry, is the one that is of sense and say something wise. I mean; In addition to imagination and some acquisitive factors such as technique -that can be reached by every interested one-its sensibility and wisdom is very important, and mere imagination is by no means enough.
Last night I read a piece of an Indian style poet who had said: "No voice of attention perk from the table / a grave lip will probably open and says come here". The poet here expresses his attitude about the otherworld beautifully and that, nothing about the world after death has been said to us, unless from the open mouth of a grave which says: "come here"; and it seems that the only way through which I can make a dialogue with the world of existence is death.
This is a thoughtful way of poetry and I think even a modernist poet is unlikely to reach such an image that the Indian style poet from 11th century has reached. This idea is even audible and attractive for our generation as well. Anyway, poetry should give us something worthy of note.
- What about your poems? To what extend they burden this thoughtful aspect? Yet, your poems also seem to be mostly self-expressing!
Well, I worked little on Palladian (spiritual wisdom) principles, because I felt most of the time I have lacked the nest – egg (resource) needed to talk in this regards. Perhaps I mostly have been involved in social affairs. To me, people's everyday life and their common fate have always been very important, since we are located in a period that the people's social life and their fate has been the criterion, as a result, most of my poetries became social and I rarely get involved with spiritual or even romantic issues .
I confess that I have not invested much in the wisdom related issues, although I liked to be in such atmosphere. However, in almost all formats I have some poems by which I have tried to show sensibility in those areas. No doubt, you are required to be interested in a field before you commit to sing poetry in that area. It is impossible just to pretend to know and say something superficial like a slogan or better to say it is impossible to make yourself attached to the concepts of wisdom.
The rapture gained after grasping is very significant and requires a calm space, which wasn't created for my generation. We were unfortunately involved in sensational emotion of social events.
- Your first poetic collection entitled : "The last songs" published in 1989 is indeed in different formats including Sonnet, Couplet, quatrain and Masnavi; hadn't you still experienced blank verse at that time?
No. I have not yet practiced blank verse very seriously! Because I believe that if I want to compose blank verse, firstly, I shall change my mind completely. Anyone who says rhythmical poetry thinks rhythmically as well. And one whose poems are free, he or she must think freely. I am trying to say that: when you want to say non- rhythmic poems, you should change your inner attitude about poetry at all, since you are to delete the rhythm of poem and it is not so easy and you should think, talk and say poems based on prose, it cause you lose lots of your abilities.
But, in the book:" A Rare Opportunity" you have some blank verses as well!
These are indeed the proses I write. In fact, my energy for blank verses is spent for the proses I write.
-You mean then that you have no blank verse at all?
-No, in the book: "A Rare Opportunity" I have some, But I call them prose poems or literary pieces.
-You had said somewhere before that choosing a poetry format depends on the poet's intended content; i.e. it is the content which determines the format. Do you think that your intended content have not permitted you to choose blank-verse format?
Perhaps my worldview didn't permit me to do so. Due to the environment in which I have grown up and the instruction I had received; I have been acquainted with poems through those rhythmic and classic ones, I mean it has never happened to me to experience poetry in the environment other than rhythmic poem. And now I think also that if I want to say non- rhythmic poems, I will have to pass through a long -at least several years- writing and discarding process. I would like to work on short pieces of rhythm less poems, but I do work on proses a lot, however many consider them as free verses.
-So, it seems that you have nothing to do with Post-Modern poem!
I think rhythm is a wonderful energy that shouldn't be taken from the poem. Rhythm has a miraculous effect on poetry and can change the Word as much as wizardry.
However the capacity of non-rhythmic poem should not be ignored. For instance the blank verses of those like Shamlou if were to be rhythmic, then they might not become so beautiful, because no doubt rhythm causes some limitation as well.
I am ready walking along with you to shake the memory of our generation and compare the number of Shamlou poems remained in their minds vs. the number of classic ones! At last, everyone should see by oneself that which kind of poems is more pleasurable in his solitude. I read Shamlou's poetry and even cry with them and really get affected
I also do not mean to set the rhythm aside. No doubt that rhythmic poem has a lot of attraction, but I try to say that every format has its own specific capacity and you as a poet could make the best use of this format as well.
I can use, but no reason to replace them with the current format of my poems. I have always said that free verse can be considered as a new capacity in the rhythmic one, but it has not come to be replaced with it, rather it has come to be placed beside it.
Now, our generation has also proven this. If you leaf through the cahiers of poetry written in 1980's and 1990s, you see almost all the formats including free-verse, blank-verse , rhythmic , she'r-e Nimaei (Nimaic poetry), sonnet, quatrain, Qaside and etc. In my opinion the old war of 1970 finished when a group of extremist proponents of Nima or the extremist advocates of Shamlou believed that sonnet must be discarded and quatrain should be committed to the grave.
I believe-quoted from Dr. Shayegan-we have got a patchwork identity and all of them are beautiful and they all together makes our universe and I also like a person who has naturally different needs; sometimes need free-verse, sometimes need rhythmic and sometimes a song.
-One of the other new poetic current was the sort of sonnet started by Monzavi and Bahmani; how do you see the effect of this current on the contemporary poetry?
This process was also a step toward finding an audience. By the way, Monzavi and Bahmani helped today’s Persian poetry a lot.
Modern currents were issued in the literature and new concerns were also formed within our poets in a way that their looks were -from one hand-rooted in the traditional values which could not be ignored by them completely; and on the other hand- they were confronted with the modern world that imposed all its features on poet and the world of poet, so that this was appeared in the theme of many poems.
-Regarding that the more we go further, the more this paradox becomes obvious; the question is : to what extend you yourself have been involved in this issue and how much your poem have been affected by the this atmosphere ?
You mentioned a very good point, because it is exactly at a pinch where one owes the rest of his literary life to the passage of this critical period. Sometimes one may ruin within in such a condition i.e. he remains traditional orcuts his root and the wind will bring him everywhere it wants. At the beginning of his words Qeysar always said:" In the name the God whose tradition is innovation".
Qeysar, himself was the one who passed the pinch. He really resisted manly. I also tried to impact them together; I mean I tried not to lose the past completely, since I saw values in the past, like those who say: " I go,but look back with the envy of the past "; I had this envious look of the past, and frankly saying I have now as well.
I still think that Indian style has a specific nature which can be used. I haven't still become so much scared and suppressed by the atmosphere of the foreside. I see the forth space and its beauties, I see also the innovations of Modernity world, but it is not too attractive to make the past world scornful to me. I don't hate the past, but I am not so fond of the future. Rather I feel the resistance of this line depends on passing the transition point and connecting the two genres to get herintelligently. I want not to be attentive about the previous experiences and use them, while enjoying the future achievements at the same time.
-Referring to Indian style, you talked more about format and form, but by paradox I meant mostly the poet's conceptual involvement with the world. For example; regarding the form or format, Forough is a hundred percent modern poet, but we see this concern everywhere in her poems. As an example in her poem "Green Illusion" that says: "How the soul of desert grasped me and the magic of moon took me away from the faith of flock ... Give me a shelter Uh, you simple full women... ".My question is specifically about this mode of exposure.
Well, it depends on how we understand modernity. Understanding the world of modernity- in fact, interact personally with human being in a sense that to what extent do you accept it, how much you love to breathe in it, and how much you love to be along with the past. In spite of the analysis of those who say that the new world is a historical custody and an inevitable fate, or a punishment which is imposed to human being through existence. I consider it by no means a punishment; rather I see lots of beauty in it. For example, consider the visual space, the multimedia, the social networks and the interactive communication which they have provided for every one; if they were not existed, how much labor should one suffer to make people so much close to each other!
I see lots of beauties in modernity, while I see that the world of modernity has reached the world of post–modernity and I see the waves which are turning back to me , make me hopeful that even in my world are also something worthy to be brought in.
-In the ending pages of the book: "Even if you are a mirror" you have a Masnavi entitled "Qalaqiran". In a line of the Masnavi you said:" Be sure, your Esmaeil, will never come back to your tribe". What is the story of this line?
I prefer not to talk about it at all. I said the poem under a special condition, when I was subject to torment, and I am still so.
-It seems this is of those concerns that every individual has about tradition, isn't it?
It is better for you to get it so. I think your look is clearer, perhaps these words have already been in the bottom of my heart too, but if we get close to poetry, you may gain nothing interesting.
But within the previous lines of this Masnavi you apparently showed hatred of the modernity and its consequences:" our tribe was in the heart of wheat farm/unaware of any alley or wall/alley orders you topass this way/ alley orders you to pass that way/ alley orders you where to run/ alley orders you where to reach"
Yes! That's right! Then I was very engaged with this contrast. Those days I believed in tradition thoroughly and thought the world of modernity was a bad, savage and truculent world.
-Well; now, why Esmaeil will never come back to the tribe?
In this regard; I affected a personal feeling and I don't like to open it.
-The book:" Comparative Study of Resistance Topics" is amongst your research works in the field of resistance. Why did you choose to work on this issue?
I wanted to evaluate the situation of our war poetry versus the world's poetry of resistance. Those days, there were two different viewpoints in this regards seen among interviews and literatures: A group of them said; after war what we have created in the literature was less comparable or even unrivaled; and some said slightingly that in comparison to the German or French literature, ... it is nothing and is by no means comparable with them magnitude of the World War II literature.
In fact, there was a sort of self- losing in the generation that was gradually growing within the 1980s. I felt I should take a step. Then I decided to write an article on this issue that the same article was later turned into book.
To do so, searching within the available translations of the world resistance poems I mean those related to the wars occurred in the Middle East, Far East, or in somewhere like Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, and in the World War I & II, I gathered almost all the poetic translated works, then juxtaposed them with a collection of our blank-verses which were capable to be compared to those foreign ones and I reached some conclusions on resistance poetry.
For instance, I offered some evidence which proves that in the content field, our poetry has something to say similar to those said in the poetries of the world too, but with a difference- that is: our resistance poetry has deeper look on everything; for example "martyrdom" in our poetry is seen from two different aspects: the national or patriotic and religious ones as well. While, in the world wars, the issue of being killed is just seen nationally or patriotically and has no or pale religious dimension.
So, I found several evidences to show that our poetry has something more worthy to say. For instance; the large amount of religious prayers seen in our sacred defense poetry, and that, these prayers served as an immortal resource of religious concepts used by Iranian resistance poets. And that, perhaps lots of the world countries has no such a litany. These prayers are indeed a sort of chore which is sung to create and empower morale among people in War and non- War time.
There are lots of wise concepts and purports in the prayers most of which have entered in to our poems, so that our poetic worldview has been formed based on these prayers.
-How the addressees welcomed the book? What was their treatment?
This book is now unavailable, although it is taken by India and Pakistan to be translated and published there; but unfortunately, due to the problems occurred to the publisher; this book was not republished and now cannot be found in the market. I think we need such researches, since any way, we are to reach the borders of globalism in literature and we have to evaluate our scale in relation with the world poetry.
And this is very difficult task, of, course, when we are in relation with the world poetry just through translation; since there would be left nothing unless it's intended idea. The translator first of all, comes and unknots the rosary string, and then every bead goes here and there and other words are replaced with them perhaps with no congruity at all.
-Doing this research, did you get any impact from the foreign poets?
Yah, too much, for example I read a poem from Paul Valéry who said:" Uh My daughter/ send me your immaculate horselaughs/ I finished ammunition". This poem is wonderful! It makes an astonishing link between war and life. To wit, all we have done to say that; the War is our life and this war is not a governmental war; and all of this has been expressed beautifully in a line of a poem. Amongst the other poets who have impressed me I can refer to Nazem Hikmat, Moein Besiso, Mahmood Darvish, Sami' Al-gasem, Nazok Al-Malaekeh and Amhmad Motar. They have very beautiful poems.
-Please talk about "A Rare Opportunity"; How the poems of this collection were provided?
This book was first published in 2008 and is indeed a selective of my poems plus a series of my new poems. In general, I have published a selection of my poems two times since then. The first one is entitled: "Your Voice is Right"; and the second on is called "A Rare Opportunity" in selection both of which I considered some criteria. Perhaps, in "A Rare Opportunity" these criteria were more personal, but in "Your Voice is Right" others consultations were involved. In "A Rare Opportunity" I have also several new poems, but because they were not enough to be collected in a new book, so I attached them to this book as well.
The book:" With You These Songs Sound Sweet" is apparently the last book you have published. It seems- from your recent years ' activities- that during these years you have more focused on songs rather than poems, isn't it?
I have several pieces of poems, some of which have been uploaded in some of websites, but, in general, I have had a few numbers of poems- I have worked not more than 12 or 13 pieces of poem. In the field of song, in addition to the book" With You These Songs Sound Sweet"; two other one named " I talk with silence" and "Whatever I am, I am far from you" are amongst of my works in this field. Besides the book: "Without Umbrella but Rainy" which is also in the field of songs.
-Don't you think; you have been stricken in repetition in poems?
Why not, anyway, repetition or triviality is a danger in which any individual may be trapped at any time. To me, turning toward song, perhaps was in a way changing the rail in order to escape from repetition. To those like us that entered the world of poetry in 1980 decade, and were always in the heart of the society, tightly related to the public, perhaps it is psychologically very difficult to be in isolation and feel that we have lost all of our addresses; however I think changing the rail towards song led me to fall in to repetition trap.
Of course, I have paid the price that is, going towards song mixed with music; because I was not to do so, rather I was to work on conversational poetry, a sort of poem which is closer to the public speech, I mean to write according to my own style and taste rather than following the musician's taste or the music style.
The atmosphere of music, its excitement as well as its mass of addressees caused me to be so involved in it that suddenly I saw I had made Tens of songs, and now I have more than 300-400 songs gathered in several collections but unfortunately I scarcely can have a lyric to murmur.
-However, this repetition is also obvious in your songs, both in language and in content.
Well, in song I have reached at a level that I can talk comfortably, I mean I don’t need to replace the bases of sentences too much. May be, I don’t try to find new points, or to create innovative fresh concepts, but I verse a song easily and this is itself a style as well. However, if the style is being repeated, it does not necessarily mean that I am being repeated too. In contrast, I don't want to jump from this branch to that branch.
By repetition, I don't mean the words' simplicity; rather I mean the notion that enriches the language. Many a poem composed of the simplest words, but denotes the most original meaning. My question exactly is: don't you think that sometimes in your works this kind of notion is completely dismissed?
May be! But in my opinion, don't account on my songs while reviewing or evaluating my poetic works. Since my songs are often versed with consultation.
-You mean, being custom built, made them hurt?
Yes, that's very effective. It should be noted that order is not typically bad. Ferdowsi wrote his Shahnameh on an order; however getting order may lead to a good or bad event. For example: if the client says that talk in this or that way! Say it or don't say that!. . . Such a work will be very bad. I mean the amount of the client's interference is very crucial. Albeit, I have closed such a door, because I never accept such an order at all.
During the last 2 or 3 years, perhaps there were a few such cases on which I couldn't reach an agreement with the director, the producer or the singer. I usually ask them to give me the topic and put the rest on me, and often everything is finished in a best way as well. Albeit, there have been some cases in which, in addition to the initial work, I worked on another piece and then the combination of both have become the ideal work they intended. As the case of "Delnavazan" which had been worked in a pictorial style, while they preferred it to be more emotional.
Some of the musicians as well as singers are interested in sharing superficial sentimental plaintive wail with the addressee and I -following their order- sometimes change some of the interpretations! What should I do? Albeit after the singer sang the song, I always upload the original one on my weblog, and say: "this is the original version which is different from that sung by the singer." These differences sometimes reach to the roof of 50 – 60 Percent, or sometimes some clauses are deleted from the poems which are vital, but they are deleted because the musician and the singer didn't like them! Hence, try to see the output of my professional works within my books rather than in the performed songs.
The Last Songs, Poetry Collection, Nashre Hamrah, 1990
Elegy of the soul, Poetry Collection, Hozeh Honari, 1990
The Years of Up to now, Poetry Collection, Mehrab-e-Andisheh,1993
Even If you were a Mirror ,Poetry Collection, Ahl-e-Qalam, 1996
A Glance at Iran Contemporary Poem, an Critique and Review, Orouj,1997
A Selection of Contemporary Literature, Neyestan, 1999
Selected Poems, Neyestan, 1999
Red Generation Songs, Orouj, 2000
Comparative Study of Resistance Literature of the World, Palizan, 2001
A Basket of song, Selected Sonnet, Lowh-e-Zarin, 2002
A Rare Opportunity, Poem Collection, Poets Society of Iran, 2006
"Your Voice is Right", Teka, 2007
Imaginary Garden, Lowh-e-Zarin,2009
With You These Songs Sound Sweet, Fasl-e-Panjom.2010