Dmitri Bykov on Mayakovsky, MacDougall Arts 15 March

Dmitri Bykov

Dmitri Bykov

After a suitable delay, Dmitri Bykov appeared and said he was surprised to see so many people come to see him talk about Mayakovsky.  His book on the poet would be coming out towards the end of the year.  Mayakovsky’s life had been poisoned by a feeling of being out of place, guilt, and a need for vindication.  He had been great as a formulator of slogans, phrases that would immediately serve as newspaper headlines.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Mayakovsky should have become a visual artist rather than a literary one, but literature had been the fashionable career choice in his time rather like physics in the 1960s.  [Could Mayakovsky have become a physicist?–well he was drawn to scientists in any case.]  He had suffered and even rusted internally from not having contact with anything–not with nature nor with people nor eve with the texts of other authors.  He had along with Slutsky produced a method by which anything could be turned into poetry, and he was very keen on the Cheka.  Perhaps his best work was Conversation with a tax inspector about poetry, which showed the full extent of his Bazarov tendencies–he was simply not at home with other people.

All of which sounds very like Milan Kundera’s general denunciation of poets in Life is elsewhere

 

 

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