The greyblack wastes feel different underfoot, than in the poem. Fractured metres jar the pace of a badly healed ankle. Beware now of darkness spoken, through a city veiled in colluding eyes. A face unknowingly recognised. Tracing itself into archives of self-evidence. In the light of failure, is the venture or the outcome more absurd? In dreams of familiar voices, we look for an echo of unfamiliar resemblance, a mirror-image to linger over.
Let blood be blood. Let it forge its own legacies by nourishing muscles into new movements, by priming lop-siped hemispheres for receptive imagination…
«Even at night,
a trace of sunlight hangs in the east.
Air creates an immobile, blue canticle.»
… I still listen for a trace of Ingeborg — an apparition, disappeared into the walls long ago. I dream again and again of Emma’s voice interlaced with music.
Killers were needed. And we heeded well the word of the old 'Homage': a siblinghood of equals thinking for themselves can become effective fighters just as quickly as newly-shaven heads can be broken and rebuilt into a troop of lethal boot-lickers. But it’s not the time, it’s the numbers. We’re always too late to talk about time. The numbers subsume.
A few weeks ago I was concerned that I’d expressed my affection for one particular person too much. Now, tracking my uneven steps was the nagging certainty that I hadn’t expressed it anything like enough. What cruel twist has you occasionally mistake a spectre of regret for a known presence approaching. Fate, we’d always said, was for us to imagine in the mind and make real in the world.
But again, it doesn’t hold. If the only serious philosophical question really is suicide, then it’s no longer solipsist — it’s collective. What if the consensus is simply self-erasure? But then what is the integrity of a consensus reached under the influence of consumption. And the jagged terrain of all exploits kicks some into the hole before others. Until we all slide past the horizon, unable then to retrace our steps, to right any wrongs.
Drying blood, becoming chalky like the red clay that models the human form… the conceit of tradition’s weight, the fallacy of one future sustained by it.
Sustaining until music greets the end, like that fabled light-a rhythm diminishing in tempo from seconds to minutes, days, months, years… into the indiscernible pattern of an immeasurable venture. A story-teller spoke of a second death, some short or long time after breathing stops: the last time your name is ever spoken. Maybe then, a first conception too, some long or short time before the zygote forms: the origination of whatever heritage and tradition will fuse with your worldly arrival.
Dried blood, becoming the red clay that models the son… the conceit of a man giving birth, the preposterousness of original sin.
A poet reassures us that the moment of death is not to be feared. It is the end of all sensation-it cannot itself be felt. Your mind pulls backwards rapidly… Somebody calls out your name… greeting you. This is before you learn to speak for yourself-taking in your first breath of oxygen in air. And living itself is like your very first dream-shocking, unimaginable-before dreaming recedes, pooling in the cracks of the ground of being.
Commentary by Rupert Clervaux
After a flurry of emails in early 2019, I eventually met Stas on a quiet street corner in Yerevan that spring, the night I’d arrived there to perform with Anna Homler at Urvakan Festival. It was clear that he was entirely responsible for my invitation to Armenia — so I was grateful to him for clearing my path into those exciting and unfamiliar surroundings. By then, we were both already very familiar with each other’s work, and the proceeding days revealed our similar interests beyond music, into the realm of literature and linguistics.
The press-release text for 'This Music Greets Death' begins by saying that «at heart, Stas Sharifullin is a supporter." And ever since those initial communications I had with him, he has proven to be exactly that. Soon after Urvakan, the strings were pulled and the relevant forms filled out to secure my inaugural concert in Russia-a trip that now has a kind of Damascene glow for me: for a poet to apprehend for the first time their work in another language, rendered by a careful and skillful translator, is humbling; for a 43 year old musician to be able to say that one experience of performing stands out clearly above all others is rare if sincere! That visit, my last excursion before covid-19 locked us all down in one way or another, revealed new pathways leading from the ones I’d already been on for some time.
Beyond the invaluable support and opportunity that Stas been able to offer me, there seemed to be a growing inevitability that we would soon pool our artistic resources as collaborators. And the invitation to write and recite poetry for the opening and closing pieces of 'This Music Greets Death' marks, I hope, the first of many such ventures. Before hearing any music, or discussing the themes behind the whole album, I was given the titles of the two pieces that I’d write for-'Revolution 0', and 'Son 0'-both of which I wanted to keep and use as starting point for putting my first words down. When I did hear the predictably excellent music it lead me deeper down those first routes I’d embarked on, into the specific mood and pace of both poems.
Once I begin, my writing process is usually an interplay between rapid intuitions and meticulous fine-tunings. The themes work their way to the surface through this interaction, and the words and sounds get honed around the emerging schema and its developing thematic structures. As such, I find it hard to discuss the text in any detail without indulging in a laborious, almost syllabic, examination! In this case, the inital text instinctively became the voice of an imaginary narrator, in hiding, speaking after a failed attempt at some kind of revolutionary endeavor, or after some kind of catastrophic event. Avoiding the omnipresent surveillance infrastructure of the modern state, the speaker reflects on this failure, with references to other exiles, 'disappeared' protagonists and anarchist thinkers. For the second text, the dying narrator assumes omnipresence to surveil in turn a civilization incapacitated by unexamined tradition, religious or social, and a fear of living change, of the unknowable, of irrelevance in the face of our inevitable passing. What merit the poems have, in the form they took when I decided to stop working on them, is not for me to judge-but it was interesting, reading again the album’s press release, that the titles had given me enough compacted information to write two pieces that seemed to fit very neatly with the conceptual direction of the entire record. And to hear the words taking their place amongst Stas’s array of sounds, also to see them combined with moving images in Elina’s captivating film for 'Revolution 0' was deeply satisfying; so, I suspect there will be more collaborative works to come.