Nerijus Cibulskas was born in 1987 in Kaišiadorys. He graduated from Vilnius University, where he studied Lithuanian language and literature. He worked in the library of Vilnius University and wrote articles for the Lithuanian cultural media, including Metai, Šiaurės Atėnai,,, and He still writes book reviews for 370 magazine.

He published his first poems while still in school. In 2012 he won the First Book Competition organized by the Writers’ Union, and his debut poetry collection Nutrinami was published. He was an editor of the Poetry Spring Festival anthology in 2016. His second book, Archeologija, was published in 2016 and was awarded the Young Yotvingian Prize, which is the most important prize for young poets in Lithuania. Veneros was published in 2019 and epoché  in 2022.

His poems have been published in all the main Lithuanian magazines and anthologies: Metai, Naujoji Romuva, Literatūra ir menas, Šiaurės Atėnai, Nemunas, Krantai, Gintaro lašai, Literatūrinės Vilniaus slinktys, Poezijos pavasaris, Poetinis Druskininkų ruduo, and Vilnius Review. His poems have also appeared on the European poetry platform Versopolis.

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Nerijus Cibulskas

Ramūnas Čičelis



 Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas


Birute Grasyte review 02Nerijus Cibulskas, epoché. – V.: Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla, 2022

Western literary scholars usually divide poetry into two categories: poems dominated by nouns and poems dominated by verbs. In Lithuanian literature, the best-known representatives of the former are poets Tomas Venclova and Jonas Mekas. Both are émigré poets, having left their native country for the United States of America, yet both use nouns in their poetry in different ways. Mekas needs nouns to emphasize a childlike relationship to the world and to its things and objects. In the film Prarasta, prarasta, prarasta, the filmmaker speaks off-camera by repeating various nouns like “tree, tree, tree” or “sky, sky sky.” Such refrains reveal the primordial nature of the world and the narrator’s surprise at its phenomena.

Nouns in the works of Venclova serve as a way to describe reality in a frozen aesthetic state: static, inactive, non-combative, yet beautiful in the sense that nouns, deprived of verbal constructions, are stripped of their quality to slowly decay and disintegrate. These objects named with nouns in  Venclova’s poetry are akin to the ancient architectural heritage of Greece, which has become impervious to the rain, sunlight, and other natural phenomena that promote decomposition and oblivion.

Verb-dominated poetry signifies the active and often socially oriented state of a suffering individual. The poem’s subject is induced to act either by some external force or an especially strong feeling of inner anxiety. In the first case, this testifies to the subject surrendering to a force of the world (usually an ideological one); in the second – to the subject’s psychological trauma or their post-traumatic memory.

The poetry book epoché, written by Nerijus Cibulskas, a member of the younger generation of Lithuanian poets, is located at a point of balance between noun- and verb-dominated poetry. The subject of Cibulskas’s poems is not a naïve child exploring the world, surprised and confused – in epoché, the subject knows their way around and is not frightened by the impermanence of our reality. What is more, the book’s subject is a free individual, with freedom understood in the sense of emancipation from popular mass culture and the many opportunities offered by postmodern capitalism. Postmodern philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have nothing to say to Cibulskas, as he does not suffer from schizoid states or hypertrophied fears and complexes typical of the postmodern human. Thus, the speaker of epoché is neither child nor elder; their world is not a place of suffering, nor is the speaker suffering themselves.

When the number of nouns and verbs is balanced, Cibulskas creates poems that may be described as micronarrative storylines or stories located in a specific time and place. Such an approach allows the author to verge into poetic prose, as opposed to prose poems. In other words, we see a shift in how poetry becomes prosaic, but not the other way around. The book also has some poems that are very close to prosaic miniatures written in verse. The poetic subject of epoché is rendered unique precisely because of such balance between linguistics and genre. Therefore, the harmony of these texts is reminiscent of ancient Greek poetry.

Again, the voice of epoché is neither too contemplative nor emotional or spontaneous. Cibulskas connects these two opposites in his poems by relaying thoughts in an almost transparent manner, while feelings remain implied, left for the reader to reflect on. Generally, the voice of this book may be described as a speaker who is in control of their passions. Such an inner balance is also made possible through the decision to prioritize neither external reality nor self-reflection, the latter usually resulting in a mere registry of a person’s thoughts and feelings – autoreference, in semiotic terms. The speaker of epoché is not obsessed with conveying the world and is equally distanced from the desire for autoreference, which can be associated with excessive attention to the self, their personality, and the subconscious. Cibulskas finds no use for either postmodern or even classical psychoanalysis – the subject of these poems is at peace, aware of the course and intensity of their own thought, while their inner calmness is in no way associated with stagnation. The subject of these petite narratives is not only free from the dictate of the world but also free from themselves. The implied continuity of such a state, not expressed directly in the book but easily understood, is an openness for dialogue and for the different experience of another.

On the one hand, epoché is not a historical book. On the other, it is a collection of texts on contemporary history. epoché’s speaker does not shun the tradition of either Lithuanian or Western poetry; the subject is clearly aware of what they’re talking about and why. However, in the context of contemporary literature, the subject who has mastered the forces of a world both external and internal is a unique one, worthy of claims to historical actuality – which is manifested as a condition after the classical European eras, after psychoanalysis, after postmodernity, even after postcolonialism. epoché creates a new kind of individual, one who is equally interesting because of their especially bright recollections from earliest life and their unique maturity, which is not revolutionary anymore and not concerned with destroying something before filling the void in its place. The subject of Cibulskas’s poetry is historical as much as the present moment, continuously experienced by us in actuality; we may call it the sign of a new epoch. The revolution of epoché is a rebellion without struggle. In other words – a silent and calm action which results in a discussion about the contemporary human, one who avoids banal actuality. Cibulskas’s book is a serenely bold utopia in dystopian times. And it is truly a question worth asking whether after all the wars and calamities, after all the extremes and the crises there will be a possibility for the existence of such an individual that is given a voice in the book epoché. Cibulskas’s poems are not only statements but also predictions that a personality of balance and a poetry of balance are testimonies to an epoch that we are already living in; they soothe the reader not by means of a postmodern mental anesthesia or an overindulgence of the world, but by their perceptive gaze and language.




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