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Interview of Jovica Tasevski Eternijan
|by Dr. Shamenaz Sheikh|
Dr Shamenaz: Tell me about your background, life and career?
Eternijan: I am a poet, literary critic, essayist, translator and editor. I have published six full-length poetry collections and two books of literary criticism; also I have compiled and edited two anthologies of contemporary Macedonian poetry. My poems have appeared in many literary magazines in Macedonia and abroad; they were selected for publication in a number of Macedonian and foreign poetry anthologies and have been translated into more than fifteen languages. Also, books of my selected poems have been translated into English and into Bulgarian, and previously, the book of my selected poems, named Syntax of the Light has been published as volume 91 in capital Macedonian literary project – Macedonian literature in 130 volumes (it contains selected works of the most significant authors from the Republic of Macedonia, from 9th century until the most prominent contemporary authors in all genres).
I have graduated from the Comparative Literature Department of Blazhe Koneski, Faculty of Philology in Skopje. I worked as a Director and Editor-in-Chief of Makavej Publishing House (2000) and as an Officer in Department for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia (2001), and since September 2001, I am working in St. Clement of Ohrid, National and University Library of Macedonia. Also I am a member of the Editorial Board of Stremezh, one of the oldest running Macedonian literary magazines (in print since 1954) and I am a consultant for Macedonian poetry on The Other Voices International Project, an anthology of world poetry, listed in the World Poetry Directory of UNESCO. I am a member of the Macedonian Writers' Association, The Poetry Society (London) and of the World Poets Society (Larissa). I have received The Enchanting Poet Award for excellent contribution in poetry writing, given by The Enchanting Verses Literary Review (in April 2010) and since March 2011 we have established collaboration between Stremezh and The Enchanting Verses, making it the first Indian magazine ever to collaborate with a Macedonian magazine.
I would like to accentuate that my experience of collaboration with Indian colleagues is great, so I have accepted with pleasure the offer to be appointed as Member of Editorial Advisory Committee of reputable Indian journal Cyber Literature: The International Online Journal, a highly respected scientific journal, which publishes peer reviewed research articles. Except that, I am a husband of award-winning Macedonian poetess and diplomat Maja Apostoloska, and a proud father of my wonderful daughter Bisera (her name in English would be Pearl).
Dr Shamenaz: How come you have developed interest in literature?
Eternijan: I focused on literature in a high school (gymnasium), when I felt a strong affinity to poetry. Previously, I was focused on mathematics and physics, but my interest evolved from those fields firstly to the philosophy, logic and epistemology, and, finally, I revealed a synthesis of the freedom of the creative spirit and of the eternal beauty in the poetry.
Dr Shamenaz: Your poetry seems to be inspired by a number of English poets like John Milton for its mystical attitude, John Donne for the use of metaphysical images, T. S. Eliot for mythical method, and also it establishes intertextual relations with poetry works of many other authors, in explicit and implicit way (citation, allusion etc.). Do u agree this?
Eternijan: Firstly, thank you very much for your wonderful and competent comments! I agree with you that my poetry establishes intertextual relations with poetry works of many great authors. I like very much the poetry of English poets, like John Milton (especially its mystical attitude), John Donne (the use of metaphysical images), William Blake, William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas etc., and also I adore the poetry of Indian poets Rabindranath Tagore and Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana 'Agyeya'.
Dr Shamenaz: Any special quality of Rabindranath Tagore's and Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana's poetry which you like?
Eternijan: I like fluent and vivid poetic images in Tagore's poems and I especially like that Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana's poetry is mystical, full of striking imagery and it is characterized by highly compressed language.
Dr Shamenaz: R u more inclined towards English Literature rather than Macedonian literature?
Eternijan: I am deeply rooted in Macedonian language when I write poetry and it is hard to translate my poetry in other languages because I am using very rare words and unusual expressions; there is not always good parallel for those words, and also the audio side of the poetry is very hard to translate. Regarding this, and also the fact that I live and work in Macedonia, I can say that it is wholly natural for me to be inclined in Macedonian literature, but concurrently I am paying much attention to the greatest achievements in English poetry; also my poems are mostly translated into English and they have appeared in many journals and magazines which are published in English (not only in Great Britain, USA and Canada, but also in India, Singapore, Egypt etc.), so that I can say that I am also inclined in English literature.
Dr Shamenaz: What quality of Macedonian literature u like most and what about English literature?
Eternijan: In the light of T. S. Eliot’s essay “Tradition and individual talent”, and of the poetic manifest written by two prominent Macedonian poets and academicians, Radovan Pavlovski and Bogomil Gjuzel, firstly I would like to accentuate that I am impressed by English literature because it has long and great tradition, and also, a big influence in the world literature, based on the high literary achievements of many great authors, but the main quality of Macedonian literature is the flourishing of many extraordinary individual talents. Both literatures, from diachronic and synchronic point of view, are characterized by wide variety of literary expression, so that there are a lot of brilliant poetical works. Generally, I like most the poems that are rich in imagery, polysemantic, characterized by use of figurative language, refined, or, in other words, I like the poetical works with high aesthetic values.
Dr Shamenaz: At the end, can you tell us a little bit more about your approach to poetry?
Eternijan: Well, I’m trying to elevate my poems to trans-temporal level, to correspond with the fundamentals of the human sensibility for all the times, so I am creating an inspiration in me by dipping inside the ontological essence of existence, to reveal the transcendental, metaphysical kernel in ephemeral occurrences and events. I have defined my poetry in my new book as wonderful passion. It is ascetic point of view of the life of the poet and of his poetic creation. I am trying to find the connections among the civilizations and the eternal things in all the civilizations until our contemporary situation. As I wrote once, the impetus toward expansion of the spiritual horizon is a basic assumption of any poetic creation, so I like to challenge my readers. My intent is to make a deep impression to the readers with my poems and I hope that my poetry has that kind of effect.
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