a real story from the 53rd Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia 2014
A sudden Facebook text this morning by Nikola Gelincheski transported me to a day before the fi-nal event of the 53rd Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia, 2014. My poet friend Márcio-André, whose actions might be attributed to a modern day Ezra Pound added me to a group-chat in Face-book, where Nikola mentioned: Hello guys:) Here’s a small tribute to the event from 2 years ago. I decided to take the first sentence from your story and use it on my lessons as an activity for practicing past tenses . His words invoked a night that had incited me many times, to write about it, but not so much as today, maybe due to this still night — silent, except for a breeze that makes me remember of a similar flurry of air — when I stepped out of the Skopje airport — bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, in August 2014. My trip to this poetry fest was loaded with fervour and ea-gerness, much due to the fact that it was my first tour outside India — that too for a cause woven around my passion. Rest remaining same (as expected out of a 50 year old fiesta), the fourth day drew me into a side-splitting yet spunky escapade that became an anecdote to be shared with later visitors to this annual poetry conclave.
Along with the enthusiasm, that this visit brought with it — there was a series of episodes, which uplifted my spirit to get involved into the act — that inducted into the list of the three poets who stole a boat at midnight. The very first inhalation, after stepping into Macedonia was like a breath with the smell of individualism — something like escaping with your passion from the shackles of daily dos and don’ts. From a Yugoslovakian restaurant to a local dance concert in Ohrid, I was imbuing myself with the prevalent Macedonian culture. It is climacteric to mention here that my fateful urge to marry at an early age led to a quick separation and that happened just one month before this visit. Toing and frowning with agony and blames, I was still searching for an escape-tunnel — like a desperate rat searching for its lost hole. It was haunting to realise how life changes as we step into obligations from carefreeness. It was much like those childhood stories of phantom and fantasies growing insignificant with age.
The transfixing weather of Struga — with a set of hills by the lake Ohrid, an all-time party envi-ronment, warmth of the Macedonians and the joy of getting together with new poets were lifting me up, from an inner recluse to a space that screamed to me — come on, just do something. The excitement was getting fever pitch and I didn’t want to dial it back. This do something intensified on the second day of the festival when a Norwegian poet Endre Russet and a Finnish poet & singer Niillas Holmberg, jumped — drunk and naked into the canal flowing beneath the Bridge of Poetry. A freezing palpitation inside me, slowly melted away upon seeing the two getting up the ridge like two drenched chickens. The crazy drunken night, that didn’t want to sleep a wink was further energised by Vladimir Martinovski — when he took me to the shore of the lake — introducing me to Macedonian songs till daybreak. A group of Macedonian poets singing adorably to the vibrating strings of Vladimir’s Oud reminded me of the Bauls in India. The world, however diverse seemed to be coupled through common ties, in-terests and similar spirit of enquiry. While they sang, I wended my way toward the hotel room, looking drowsily at the sky and murmuring in a soliloquy – stories land from nowhere and fly you to nowhere — a nowhere beyond your perceptions and dreams. The main story was still waiting in disguise — as unpredictably as a twister shaping itself in whispering grasslands. The light of dawn emerging silently and subtly from the hills bordering the lake — looked as if it doesn’t wish to show — how a day unfolds itself. It was like the story of life — emerging from the unknown to vanish into the mysterious. Musing upon my comprehensions that — nights and days were just a perception of eyes, I was out like a light at about 5 a.m.
The following day — full of poetry and poets from across the globe witnessed the Bridges of Struga event and what came off after the event, was the chapter, that inspires the title of this piece — The Poets Who Stole a Boat in Struga.