At the heart of Baghiu’s poetry and process there exists
a concept coined by the poet himself, chimerism.
The concept encapsulates a tendency to escape everyday realities and to
create a parallel universe, a counter-reality in which the poet lives.Baghiu remembers
the defining moment where it all began. On 21 August 1988, a day that changed
his life, he was working as a nurse in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Romania. He
was smoking, enjoying Chinese tea and reading Flaubert’s The Art of Travel. In the background, a radio station was broadcasting
in Italian. A foreign voice insinuated into his, a voice that seized his throat
and his vocal chords making him talk about things he had never lived or seen. The
world around him came to a standstill. He was overcome with a sense of tranquillity,
inner peace and detachment from everyone and everything. He likes to call it ataraxia, some sort of poetic trance.
Introducing our podcast with Filipino-Australian poet Merlinda Bobis, I mentioned her poem ‘siesta’, an innovative multilingual work. In the podcast, she spoke about her writing in Filipino and English, and the way in which it is mediated by her first language, Bikol. Thanks to Merlinda’s generosity, we are able to reprint her poem ‘siesta’ in this blogpost so that readers can enjoy an example of her multilingual writing.
our recent podcast with poet Merlinda Bobis, she notes that consciousness of
process comes about after the fact. While writing, she is too busy leaping from
one thought to another to allow for this kind of reflection. Something captures
her and makes a poem possible. She describes the initial impetus as an accident
–her book title Accidents of Composition reflects this – the poem has to
retain an element of surprise. The poem leads her, and further accidents happen
as she writes, through associations; the poems seem to compose themselves. Analysing
her own text, she remembers what gave rise to it, an act of contextualising how
the work happened, and of looking at it as a reader. Even her return to poetry
from the novel was accidental. Her writing often begins with strong images;
sometimes she takes photos to use as prompts – the sense of ‘something else’
that is in the image becomes the poem.