author of four poems in Sleipnir’s Issue One
Sleipnir: Which would you say are your most notable literary influences?
Daniel Marin: You ask if my poetic intuition has ever intersected that of others? I attended, in the year 2000, a meeting of a writers group led by Mircea Cărtărescu at the Literature Department at the University of Bucharest. It happened to be their last meeting, so it was somewhat festive. Marius Ianuş, the most talented young poet at the time, had his first book launch, so there were “fracturists” like him in the room, and it was the first time I was meeting such writers (fracturism is a type of poetry embracing rupture, anarchy, and rough, unpolished expression, n.ed.). There were a few points in their literary manifesto that so appealed to me that I ended by thinking at that very instance that I was a fracturist writer . I was wrong. Straightforwardness, shock value, when doubled by rhetoric, have no effect on me, because they become enclosed in the descriptive and in the implausible enumeration: they have no force coming from inside, or from the life-force of the originator, but only a force that comes from the momentary act of pointing a finger. I live more intensely when my characters are alive. At that time, I understood “fracture” differently than the way the fracturists ended up practicing it. You, as a writer, can mime it, but a character can’t. And fracture is not of the social or political type, but the kind we find at the level of the small entities that populate our inner horizons. These small entities swallow the large entities. I was mentioning two years ago, in an essay I haven’t published yet, that Ofelia Prodan, a poet who made her editorial debut in 2007, engenders, in her books, a sort of mutant combination between the something of the poet and the something of the reader, capable of triggering empathy, the direct, immediate connection, without a forced or programmatic mediation. Without placing herself at the center of things, she “stages” a personal history where her characters, hypnotic and palpable (even if this takes place in a collective imaginary), keep you at the edge of your seat with a neo-realism that had already been attempted at the very start of 2000 (with a bit of social meaning, a bit of political meaning), thus taking on a dimension that no one could have suspected before. My essay is titled “Reality in visions and the characters of neo-realism.” I would like, therefore, to be inspired, to have been inspired by the reality of poets like that.
Sleipnir: For what public do you write your poetry? Do you have a familiar public in mind, or an unknown entity? In other words, as a Romanian writer, do you write “Romanian” poems or “universal” ones? Do you try to write something the public expects, or do you want to surprise?
Daniel Marin: Is there such a public who asks if you had them in mind when you were writing? And if they ask, whatever your answer might be, isn’t your poetry all that they are given in the end? You can make yourself likeable to a public only insofar as your texts make you likeable to them. Otherwise there would only be an artificial relationship, a false seduction that would not last. I am my first public, familiar and unknown. When I write, I am my own reader, sitting by my side. If I feel that what I write interests me, keeps me involved, I keep going. If writing a poem puts me to sleep, it becomes clear to me that I can’t finish it, for how would I pass it down to another reader?! I asked myself how close to the public it would befit me to be. With my first book, too much closeness would not have been befitting (its poems can be read in a lonely space, only there), but with the second book I think the closeness to the public started to look better on me. Beginning with my second book, my poems can be read with an audience. I heard this from Horia Barna, the former director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Madrid – that what I had read in 2009 in Madrid sounded very “natural” in Spanish. It’s possible, then, that some of my poems could be assimilated to other literatures, but I haven’t had too many opportunities to find out: it hasn’t been that long since I started living in Sardegna, where I can feel the “pulse” of my poetry in other languages and other cultural contexts.
Sleipnir: There is a noticeable magical realism tendency in some of your poems. Do you think that magical realism and/or surrealism places you in a tradition (such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’), or do you consider it your own brand of surrealism? Characters such as Match or the speaker of “How I Killed Myself” seem to belong to a different reality. What draws you to such characters?
Daniel Marin: Ştefania Mincu once mentioned a type of inexpressive surrealism, in which “now we see pushed away from poetry both the illusion of metaphor, and the illusion of pulling away the dividing curtain between the real and the text, the minimalist and cinematic groping around for the-real-as-real.” The same writer mentions a poetry that “becomes oracular and descends into the layers of certain ‘terrorisms’ and apocalyptic catastrophes hidden in the smallest gestures, starting from the stage of absolute infantilism, which is perpetuated, however, as the only stage humanity goes through, where human beings are under threat from a type of precocious senescence and where violence and crime incubate in silence” (trans. ed.) – since you mentioned “Match” and “How I Killed Myself.” Of course, Ştefania Mincu was not referring to my book that is about to be published, but the poems in my latest published book. What could draw me to such characters that I create? Their “guilty innocence”? The dissipation of quietude that finds its way into everyone’s reality? I know it’s not a matter of rhetoric, since I never made room for it. I also know that the footprints of reality in my poems can be equally imaginary or hallucinatory and that monsters don’t always come from outside, but also from inside each person’s mythology. The “Magical microrealism” mentioned by Paul Cernat in my poem “I Took Him aside and Told Him” (2009) would indeed place me closer to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The “chimeric” biography in “As It Was” (2008), “closing in on certain ages and interior states rather than on rereadings – nostalgic, euphoric, or anxious ones – from memory” (Al Cistelecan, trans. ed.) would place me closer to myself. Miss O., the character in my “movie” of 16 poems, could be placed, as I see her, on an interior and initiatory road, even though apparently it doesn’t lead anywhere except into her own infantile and airy imagination. Therefore, I don’t know if the personal brand is mine or it belongs to my poems’ characters. I would opt for saying they have their own identity.
Sleipnir: How would you define poetry, now in the 21st century?
Daniel Marin: How was it defined before the 21st century? These non-encompassing definitions are both always in motion, and it is never clear exactly which one is a step ahead and which one several steps behind. Anyway, I think it’s the job of others to tell us. Ion Mureşan suggests that “poetry is a defense mechanism of an organism. When society is ill, just as when a body is ill, it secretes antibodies. The poetry explosion of 1990 is a sign that society is ill. The social organism has secreted poets, and these have the role of healing, anihilating the infection, through the things they write” (trans.ed.). I think he omits, unfairly, from the equation the tiny monsters that, I suggested, swallow the big ones. The human psyche can devour, I believe, even in the absence of external stimuli, or even more so at that time. We can test this by isolating ourselves, for longer and longer periods, from other people. In my relationship with myself, poetry sometimes shows itself, stays awhile, then moves on. And in the rare moments when we are very close, sometimes it lets me put it down in a book. Don’t think that it’s stuck up or unfaithful – it’s only faithful for as long as I can hold on.