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Ramūnas Liutkevičius (b. 1982) studied Lithuanian philology and semiotics at Vilnius University. He has published his work in literary journals and on personal platforms. Liutkevičius is a participant of poetic and interdisciplinary artistic events; he often reads his works in a performative style, approaching poetry from the audiovisual and choreographic perspectives. He has stated that poetry is truly a dance. Ramūnas Liutkevičius’s recently published poetry debut Šokis įsuka šviesą (“The Dance Turns In the Light”) was received as a striking and alluringly dark book.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Lina Buividavičiūtė

by
Marius Burokas

Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas

 

Valdas Papievis Echo review 02Ramūnas Liutkevičius, šokis įsuka šviesą. – V.: Bazilisko ambasada, 2021

“my name is ramūnas, i roam the mazes of the old city looking for an emergency exit in life”. Thus Ramūnas Liutkevičius introduces himself in his debut poetry book šokis įsuka šviesą (The Dance that Turns in the Light). Despite thus debut, Ramūnas Liutkevičius was already well-known to those who frequent slam poetry and spoken poetry evenings. He combines poetry with music and video works and is perhaps the only author in Lithuania who performs his texts by dancing. Ramūnas’s work, intense and pulsating with reiteration, runs along the lines of classical confessional poetry but is more open to playing with the poetic form and speaks on certain themes that haven’t been explored much by other Lithuanian poets, namely social inequality, psychological trauma, or autism.

In my opinion, the book is consistent, as if it were written in one breath, bound like a song with its chorus of recurrent texts and themes that may, to some, appear too frequent or even irritating but only serve to strengthen the sensation of confinement in a cursed loop of the city and an individual’s own personal space.

This consistency, however, is woven from several threads. The first to be mentioned are the poems children of the white swan, the body remembers it all, this life is about nothing but, so dismal was barthes, and once i had met – I consider these poems to make up the principal axis of the whole collection. These poems knock the wind out of you like a blow to the abdomen. They are sharp, intense, and very moving, each one a compelling recitative about an individual’s capacity for pain, indifference, and weakness. I even consider children of the white swan to be a manifesto of contemporary Lithuanian poetry – a particularly clear and painful reflection of the hierarchical nature of our society, an inherent desire to humiliate and belittle, which, as the poem implies, arises from broken self-esteem and ignorance of a person’s own trauma. These broken people and the outsider – the lyrical subject who relates to these people yet is completely unlike them – act like two powerful magnetic poles that continually pull and push each other apart. The tension and the pain arising from this dynamic is what makes the poem especially powerful: “i believed i was becoming / one of you. i believed the ink of fortified wine that runs in my veins / that we all soaked our feathers in / is mine too. / i still do.”

Another theme, or thread, in Liutkevičius’s book is the city of Vilnius – from its unkempt apartment buildings, shopping malls, and various bureaucratic establishments to Vingis Park and some of the more fashionable bars and nightclubs. There are no radiant church towers or baroque skies in Liutkevičius’s poems; instead, we see a horizontal cross section of the city’s depths and gutters.

Finally, the third thread, which separates this book from the genre of traditional poetry, is comprised of “diaristic” passages, poetry written in prose: short, hasty sketches of people and places or Beckettian dialogues between the subject and individuals typically in the employ of various institutions. Liutkevičius has an ear for speech and dialogue and a particularly accurate grasp of the absurd in daily life, skillfully describing the alienation and eeriness that hide in plain sight. These poems expose the coglike existence of those living in the innards of the city.

The Dance that Turns in the Light is nevertheless a rare example of a book wherein the fringe and autistic experiences of the lyrical subject do not appear to be demonstrative and hysterical acts of misery, as the naked authenticity of these poems is equalized by self-irony and an awareness of the absurd.

However, this poetry is most effective and best delivered to the reader by means of live performance, using speech, dance, and music. Those looking for the full experience should scan the QR code printed on the book’s cover to access the voice of the author himself as well as the somber music composed by Dominykas Niaura especially for these verses.

 

 

 

 

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