Anything, but Poesy is Not Dying in Georgia

Reported and translated

The recent Frankfurt Book Fair was a true celebration of Georgia’s intellectual and publishing competence, but good things are happening here in Georgia proper too. Last Saturday evening, the Writers House in Tbilisi hosted the launching event of Badri Kutateladze’s new book of poetry, titled ‘Time would not allow’. Frankly, I thought I was being invited to a standard presentation of another new edition in print, where friends and acquaintances habitually reunite to trivially lavish reciprocated wishes and felicitations on one another. Instead, I found myself at a genuine reintroduction of the Georgian culture, its force and spirit, its heart and mind, its vitality and significance, where a truly unadulterated exchange of words and emotions reigned true.

The place exuberated vintage talent in aged bodies, although the age was not an issue at all. The bona fide ladies and gentlemen of the nation were voraciously listening to one other, culminating each appearance with reserved but still exalted applause. Kutateladze would modestly insert his verses in-between the brief but evocative and enthusiastic speeches, each and every one of them having an epochal sound, saying volumes not only about the poet’s individuality and creative work but reflecting the intricacies of our complicated times of cultural transition. One of the speechmakers unobtrusively, but very much up to the point, wondered if it were imaginable to witness in Georgia’s social reality the astute congregation of this gravity and magnitude in about 30 years from now. At hearing this quizzical question, most of the faces in attendance registered uncertainty.

The event went on, during which it was also emphasized that today’s materialistically overwhelmed world, concerned and tired with the problems of survival, has seized our little Georgia to forge it into something heartbreakingly inconsequential and banal, but poets like Badri Kutateladze would not let it sink into oblivion. His plain and transparent style, loaded with his life experience and keen eye for detail, as well as compassion and goodwill towards his fellow humans, shines with transparency and unfeigned sincerity – poignant and cheerful at the same time. The vocabulary of his lovely poems is amazingly moving and penetrating, and his creative attitude is inquisitive and searching. The audience had a deep perception of the poet’s philosophy, enlivened in the masterful rhymes of his poetry, and took it straight to the heart.

It seemed we were not going to tire of listening to Badri’s pleasurable declamation of his own verse, which was so well adorned with his calm and soothing baritone. In a word, the entire event was marked with something uncannily nostalgic which kept us feeling thirsty for that momentary glance back, but as the poet himself put it, time no longer allows for the good things we chronically miss.

The main protagonist of the wonderful poetic spectacle presented his book to the members of a congregation of Georgia’s white-haired intellectuals from various walks of life. He also presented them with his famous bulky photographic album of Tbilisi Sculpture, laconically but very expressively epigraphed by the author – ‘Poesy in Stone’. On top of his poetic talent, Kutateladze is a skillful essayist and TV anchor, serving on the board of Writers Union of the country, and also working as the director of the well-known Didube Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures.

The winner of numerous prizes and awards, Badri Kutateladze faithfully serves the poetic muse of his beloved Georgia in the best tradition of the Georgian classic literature, enjoying the unmitigated love of his people, his wonderful personality being the best guarantee of mutual understanding between him and the adherents of his poetic sounds. In principle, poetry in Georgia has always mattered and it will matter in the future too. Poesy will never die here! Just read these lines by poet Badri Kutateladze and you will know it.

* * *

Time would not allow

Watching your lovely face,

Delight is null and void,

Having left no trace;

Envy is overwhelming,

Coveting our lives,

Let me share my memory,

The only asset of mine!

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

18 October 2018 22:30