Black Flag Poetry

Black Flag Poetry (Part 2/2)

Black Flag Poetry

 

Read the second part of Bogomil’s interview on Spotlight Europe and discover this young poet’s thoughts on the future. For his poems, have a look at Bogomil’s blog ‘Black Flag Poetry‘.
1. Is poetry  only a hobby of yours or eager ambition to start a career as a poet?
Both ambition and career imply a desire to reach a final destination. I can’t say the same is true of the art of poetry. To be a poet, one has to already be where he wants and ought to be which excludes the possibility of him trying to elevate himself and to reach some kind of an ideal. I don’t think you can learn that art much more than you can learn how to laugh at jokes. You can’t really get much better but you can stop being as bad at it as before i.e. you can manage to say more in less words and thus increasing the presence of the only known to humanity weapon of truth – silence. I’d like to enclose a poem by Basil Bunting right after this sentence:

WHAT THE CHAIRMAN TOLD TOM
Basil Bunting, 1900-1985

Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You don’t sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory–
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week–
married, aren’t you?–
you’ve got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it’s poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I’m an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it’s unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They’re Reds, addicts, all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr. Hines says so, and he’s a schoolteacher, he ought to know.
Go and find work.

2. From you view: Will books still be read in 2030 or will everyone read via digital devices like smartphones, tablets etc.?
Whether people will read their favourite novels enclosed in hardcover books or from digital devices remains a trivial subject as long as the content of the book in question remains in the Gutenberg era i.e. a static immutable printed text with fixed positioning on paper or screen. A more important question regarding the future of literature is not how the mediums of reading will change or how the visual representation of a text will evolve, but rather how would the enormous capabilities of our machines affect the way we “encode” and create literary texts. I’d like to think of the future of poetry through an allegory which I’d name “Poetry as a constellation observed in the night sky”.

Poetry can be seen and researched as a natural phenomenon instead of as a dusty artefact in a museum.

The idea is that future literature will have dynamic representation instead of static one, it’s shape will shift and morph with time. Imagine a text which changes everyday because it relies on external input (let’s say on the content of ten different online magazines). In that way poetry can be seen and researched as a natural phenomenon instead of as a dusty artefact in a museum.

 

3. What advice could you give to other young writers?
I won’t give any advices, but I’d say what I will never do myself and that is I won’t get obsessed with the question of creativity. I consider the very word obscene and preposterous. I believe it’s a meaningless term whose place is in the same category as free will, freedom, the meaning of life and so on. It is an unsuccessful and arrogant attempt by our simple-mindedness to break the intense complexity of human thought into simplistic categories that we like to believe we control, into squares and circles, equators and meridians. Striving for creativity in your writing is like trying to paint a mathematical equation. By desperately trying to match the people’s evaluation of a work and studying how to appease them by fitting into the accepted ideas of originality leads to infertility and disappointment. A much better process, in my opinion, is to instead divert your attention towards deep comprehension, appreciation and contemplation of the world driven by what moves you around. Every time I was advised to read an article on creativity, I’d take my dog for a walk and let it lead me on my own leash.

 

About the interview partner:
Bogomil Gospodinov - Author at Spotlight Europe
Bogomil Gospodinov – Author at Spotlight Europe

Bogomil (20) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2012. He currently studies Computer Science at the University of Southampton in England. He loves poetry and playing football.

Black Flag Poetry (Part 1/2)

Picture Bogomil Todorov Gospodinov

Bogomil is a young Bulgarian poet studying in England. He publishes his work on his own blog ‘Black Flag Poetry‘. For Spotlight Europe, he gives an interview on his work and inspiration.

1. Why did you choose this specific name for your blog and poetry work?

The black flag is the infamous insignia of the pirates, the symbol of the rebels during the German Peasant’s War and the Black Guards during the Russian Revolution. Ironically, it is also the flag raised in front of a prison signifying an upcoming execution. It is a flag standing for the absence of a flag, the Mare Liberum of the fleets of national identity. Ultimately, it represents the No Man’s land populated by the minds in exile, by those most unwilling to surrender.

What actually made me choose this title is a quote from the Bulgarian new wave musician Dimitar Voev which goes roughly like this: “Wave a black flag on which it is written without words “It’s filthy inside me”.”

2. What made you want to start a blog about poetry?

My blog is private and not indexed on the Internet. It’s purpose is bibliographical. It is a convenient way of having a holistic view on your work, as one is able to follow his progress through time summarised on a computer screen.

3. All of your poems are in English. That is quite remarkable as your mother tongue is Bulgarian – Why did you choose English as language for your poems?

Most of my poems are not initially written in English, but in Bulgarian. I am gradually translating them into English (following the steps of Brodsky and Nabokov), obviously because it is a lingua franca and because, in my opinion, the successful transition of a poem between several languages is a litmus test of its well-craftedness. It is not a novelty in the scientific or the philosophical world that human thought speaks in an universal language and I believe, ultimately, human languages are an important but trivial matter when it comes to fine literature. Such literature always speaks in strictly humanistic terms and stands on a higher abstraction level then let’s say what we call German or English.

4. What are the main topics of your poems?

Every time you had something on the tip of your tongue but couldn’t find the right words to express or the people to talk to – that is my topic.

As Adrian Mitchell once said:

“We must speak

instead of the poor,

instead of the deranged,

instead of the dying from hunger,

instead of the fighting for freedom,

instead of all children,

instead of all thrown into jail,

instead of the senile,

instead of the unborn, instead of the dead,

instead of the animals and the birds,

instead of the earth, the water and the sky.

These are our brothers and sisters. Every day one of them is being ridiculed. They are being destroyed, oppressed and murdered. The revolution, which could set them free, has just begun. In order to succeed, this revolution must be a revolution of empathy, which will bring us closer to a more peaceful and less vulgar world.

5. Is there something that especially inspires you?

Strangeness. I always fall in love with bizarre people and circumstances slightly (but not too much) detached from reality – people whose shadows are not copycats

6. How much time does it take you to write a poem?

A poem is not meant to be written. It is to be edited. For a long time. And then either the author and/or the poem dies. People then gather and mourn for a while and start reading it aloud. And then they get some ideas and start writing themselves expanding on the previous one. The original poem has started a long time ago with the first heartbeat of the first broken heart.

7. What do your friends and family think about your hobby?

If life is an exam, my poetry is my private notes. You can look at them on your own risk of being expelled.

8. Do you follow other poetry blogs? (Is there something like a poet network in the internet?)

I don’t follow blogs or magazines or newspapers. I follow my eyes. 21st gives us an unprecedented opportunity to choose and pick in an extremely fast pace. We have at hand the luxury to filter our information based on the quality of the content and form instead of blindly following blog X or magazine Y.

 

About the interview partner:
Bogomil Gospodinov - Author at Spotlight Europe
Bogomil Gospodinov – Author at Spotlight Europe

Bogomil (20) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2012. He currently studies Computer Science at the University of Southampton in England. He loves poetry and playing football.

Unemployment in Switzerland

A girl talking to a HR woman at a career fair, Spotlight Europe
“Only one out of five enterprises provides apprenticeships.” (Flickr: Mays Business School/licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In a  new series on Spotlight Europe three young Europeans depict the employment situation in their home countries. You´ll find the intro here or go to First part, Second Part.

In August 2014 Switzerland had a 3 % unemployment rate. That means that compared to December 2013 the unemployment rate decreased from 3.5 % to 3 %. After the world economic crisis in 2008, the unemployment rate reached its peak in December 2009 at 4.4 %. After decreasing in 2011 to 2.6 % the rate is now rather high again. Those numbers seem really small compared to other countries. Yet the youth unemployment rate differs a lot. In 2013 10.4 % of young persons were unemployed. And as many as 16 % of foreign adolescents were unemployed. That is more than in Germany (8.8 %) or Austria (9.4 %) in the same year. What are the reasons for Switzerland youth unemployment and what are the attempts to improve this rate?

Although the educational level of the youth is high, the standards for jobs are often even higher. In Switzerland the retirement age is 64 for women and 65 for men. Because of the global economic crisis, the growth of jobs stagnated, and because the Swiss work up to a high age, the rate of youth unemployment grew during the last years.

HR staff checking applications, Spotlight Europe
Only few positions are being offered. Enterprises can pick their candidates freely. (Flickr: Alan Cleaver/licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Switzerland has a binary education system. But only one out of five enterprises provides apprenticeships. Given that the offer of apprenticeships should be 15 – 20 % more than the need, this is not enough. But those factors do not explain the even higher number of foreign unemployed adolescents. Due to many applications the director of an enterprise can chose who he wants to hire. Unfortunately many Swiss are not free of prejudice, it is often enough to have a name which sounds outlandish, to not get the job. This sort of discrimination against other cultures is inadmissible. Especially because foreigners are in general very well integrated and an important part of our society.

“Solid education must be accessible.”

In order to reduce youth unemployment or unemployment in general, there are already plenty of good approaches. First of all the government should not try to economise in the educational sector. A solid education even after basic education must be accessible for everyone. Furthermore governmental work orders should be distributed to enterprises, which provide apprenticeships. This should encourage employers to hire the younger generation. Switzerland should furthermore introduce a minimum wage in the general employment contracts of apprentices. This would avoid exploitation.

Fortunately the job market in Switzerland is still relatively strong. But, as we have seen, it is often the youth who comes off second best. Requirements and hence the pressure get higher. Now is the time to go against that by also giving young people a chance to enter in the job market.

About the author:
Picture Jeannie Schneider, Spotlight Europe
Jeannie – Author at Spotlight Europe

Jeannie (18) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2013. She is a member of the Youth Council for the Future.