In the hall of the Academy of Knowledge organized by the National Library of Budva, the promotion of the first book of poems by the young poet Lejla Kasic was held, titled "My Red".
Lejla Kasic was born in 1996 in Prijepolje. She finished high school "Slobodan Skerovic" in Podgorica, after which she enrolled at the Faculty of Philology in Niksic. She studied at Karl-Frances University in Graz. She has been writing since elementary school when she read her texts in children's shows at the RTCG where she was a host and co-worker on the radio. She has written poetry intensely in recent years, and the first collection is a product of poetic growth and maturation. Her poetry is featured on many literary sites, and some of her poems are translated into Hungarian.
The collection "My Red" contains about 50 poems about love, life, passion, pain, death... The book came off the press in October 2018, and the publisher is Stampar Makarije.
At the promotion in Budva, the author read the verses from her collection "My Red" to the audience's delight and joy. With the author Lejla Kasic, Stanko Stanojevic, moderator of literary promotion, also spoke.
What is your symbolism of red, love and suffering and danger? This is, in a way, a growing up and artistic maturation, but also a little deeper?
"Red is simply the most lifelike color, the color of the base on which life creates and disappears. If I were a color, I would be very red, because it is so ambivalent and contradictory – it is a color of love and hate, and the struggles and surrenders, it is all-encompassing. On the other hand, red is tied to my sister who departed too early and tragically from the game of life, and her name Al-Hammbra means red in translation. There's also a part of the collection that includes poems that talk about death, pain, my survival of her death, so I think those poems and the book’s title are a nice way to give her eternity."
Poetry about love, pain, suffering, passion, death, life in general, about topics that, as you said, should be kept from clichés. These are eternal themes. How are you guarding them? What is the immortality of the subject and the poet?
"I guard them just as I speak and write about them, but primarily by allowing myself to feel, live and survive what I write about. The immortality of these themes is reflected in their presence in our lives, whoever we are and whatever we do we cannot and should not remain immune to them. The poet is, therefore, only someone who by playing with words, can touch the soul, and his immortality comes when, after him, his words, thoughts, ideas do not cease to live."
Should poetry necessarily have a foothold in the real, experienced poet's experience and what motivates you most?
"Literature itself is fictitious and so skillfully flirting with reality and with lies, and somewhere its point is not to be able to distinguish what really happened and what did not. Certainly, the impulses from reality are necessary, but this does not necessarily have to be a real experience, as long as we can identify with it. Life motivates me. Its predictable unpredictability, challenges, joys, fateful coincidences. Youth is driving me, those wild years when you're running the world, and you can hardly see, all those craziness that accompanies maturity. Love, that divine feeling and all the trivial feelings that accompany it, which are equally important.”
You're writing about a woman from a woman’s view. Among other things, one who fears "becoming a mother because I am too selfish", as well as one that "would give birth to a son with celestial eyes and a daughter with a gap between the teeth, if I could." What do you think of the position and freedom of women in a society in which someone gives birth to someone, and not to himself, as in creation?
"The topic of the position of a woman is always inspiring because as a woman I feel how much this position can make us suffer. Today, more than ever, we are full of stories about the rights and freedoms of women, and the struggle for the rights is reduced to the controversial continuation - the titles in the occupations and the celebration of March 8th with the appropriate music programs and perfumes at promotional prices. It's not the point. The problem is much deeper. For example, when a poet uses vulgarism in their creations, they will probably not be questioned about the quality of the written text nor will they be criticized. It will be praised; it will be compared with Bukowski. When a poet does the same, there will be comments like: "A woman is not fit for that!", "It's not ladylike!" Who determines what suits or does not suit a woman? We are not all born to be ladies, and that does not diminish our specialty and value, and we need to say what we feel loudly and clearly, and no one has the right to condemn us for doing so or adhere us with any labels.
The above verses are from poems between which there is a two-year difference. And now, when a couple of years has passed between the then and the present me, I say that a woman should not give birth to someone else, or herself, but when she decides to become a mother (if you ask me, the only person who is worthy of having a monument), she does it only because of the being she gives life, because no matter if she gave birth, she does not claim the right to another's life."
What is the position of a poet in the society and culture in which she is being accomplished? Should she also have luck and affection, to be in someone’s grace?
"Luck and affection are always nice to have, and I am grateful to the Universe that always keeps my back and that is always on my side, so I constantly meet people who instruct, support, and motivate me. So, this promotion in Budva reminded me of last year's poetry evening also in Budva, where I met people with whom I later collaborated and who turned my thoughts towards the serious idea of publishing a book. But that does not have to be decisive. Sometimes the adverse circumstances are good motivation, but it's easier and more beautiful to know that you are creating close to people who are willing to support you."
Are creative impulses always binding you on creation and when are they embedded into a poem?
"I often get these impulses from reality as small signs of inspiration. So a word comes down to me, comparison, sentence and when I write them, I do not force them, but I'm thinking about them, and I wait for the moment when they will grow up in a poem. Sometimes they are only waiting for a few hours to get the final shape, and sometimes much longer. Sometimes they do not wait at all, but the avalanche of words leak out of me. The inspiration is deceitful, and I simply adore its games."
When the poem gets its final shape, do you return to them, do you make them better?
"I don't come back to them. Not because I think there is no room for repairs, but because it's an expression of me at that moment and as such, it would not be worth or make sense if I would return to it to make it better."
Do you think that a poet can and should present what they do, therefore, without a publisher and a critic; do you consider it good for some future literary duration?
"For me, so far, this kind of approach exalts me. I held the first promotion all by myself, leading the audience through my creations with a certain story or an anecdote related to the poem. I think that, for someone who is only at the beginning of their literary work and who needs to be recognized in that area, I still have not earned so much respect and appreciation, so others would write reviews about my work. I prefer to see how the audience experiences the verses I read than someone interpreting what the poet wanted to say. Of course, I will be happy when one day I find someone writing criticisms about me, but I do not want to force it now and that this is done because it needs to be done, not because it wants."
Is the audience’s judgment decisive then? Whose is it?
"The audience is important, but I do not tie myself to their opinions and expectations. If they like me, that's good. If they do not like me, that's also ok. When they react to my words, it has the least connection with me and with those words. The reaction is related to what the words awaken in them. Therefore, it is a reaction in themselves, and the words are only an intermediary. An Indian poet said that our art is not how much others like what we do, but how much we like it, how honest we are in creating and how we must never sell sincerity to please somebody. And that is the point of art and creation."
What are the creators, writers, artists influencing your creating and poetic testimony and path (sometimes explicitly underlined in peoms)?
"Poetry has always been present in my life, so various influences have been precipitated, that I cannot even distinguish from where a thought in my head came from, and whether it's originally mine or someone's influence shapes it. And I love this intertextuality, because it provides a new life with already existing words, and on the other hand, some of the writers have so ingeniously said some things that it cannot go beyond it. This is in a way networking of old and new generations of writers, because, our essence is the same. There are many of them, from Miroslav Antic, Dis, Jesenjin, Ratkovic, to some musicians such as Damir Urban and the like."
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Text by CdM, on March 8th, 2019, read more at CdM