Poet, writer, musicologist and screenwriter Cvetka Bevc thoughtfully created a unique genre of lyrical biography of the writer, publicist and feminist Zofka Kveder in the poetry collection Sled ognjena svinčnika.
The poems provide a glimpse into the psyche of a woman from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, when feminism was still in its infancy here.
Zofka Kveder was one of the literary creators who was often attacked and belittled because of her work in her life, but recently – also as the first writer included in the national collection Collected works of Slovenian poets and writers – a series of scientific and film studies, monographic publications and editions bring deserved value and resonance.
Poetry is personal writing, the most intimate narrative from oneself, rarely do poets choose portraits of other personalities. Only sometimes do they put on masks that speak from the mouths of mythological, literary, or other beings who are not poets or poets themselves. In this context, Cvetka Bevc borrowed the mask of another speaker, with which she testifies about her view of the world, because, truth be told, the experiences of women in both times overlap in many ways. In this way, she was able to enter the protagonist’s battle, not only in a documentary way as in the script, but as a lyrical speaker, during which she developed into a full-blooded woman and creator. And it also crept into the Story right at the beginning of the collection: “The world beneath the surface trembles in obscurity, / to show her the illusion of the infinite. // Then float to the shore. Her shivering tears apart the morning. / She has seen all this before.”
In the collection Trace of a fiery pencil the poetic language of Cvetka Bevc is hard, true, not covered with melancholic metaphors or dramatic similes; looking into the past, he projects his own knowledge onto the screen of today. And that’s why in one of the seven quotes he highlights the words of the portrait woman: “Only we, modern women, have discovered what we call the soul, we have discovered within ourselves our own will, our own judgement, the self-confidence of our personality.”
Just as it was most interesting for Kvedrova to write about what a person experiences, a look into her courageous, although mostly tragic world also awakened a different note in Cvetka Bevc. He made her aware, and like a waterfall, a lyrical confession was created, which also puts today’s time, the modern experience and thinking of many women in front of a mirror. Poet in the collection Trace of a fiery pencil he overplays the most diverse motifs of reality, but shows them symbolically and metaphorically, thus using access to a wide circle of readers in his desire to be faithful to the original idea.
Why wasn’t one, albeit attentive, reading of this poetry collection enough for me? Probably because the collection intertwines two lyrical stories and it is difficult to separate the personal poetry from the objective one, which is related to the story of the writer Zofka Kveder. How to distinguish one from the other? And why? If even. Can modern poetry with an engaged approach be implemented in the consciousness of today’s reader, can it instill in him a hierarchy of values based on past values? In her works, the writer Zofka Kveder talked about women’s attitude towards their own bodies, towards sexuality, prostitution, rape, marriage without love, early marriage and marriage for material benefit. »I silence the movement of my hips, / my steps mingle with the curses / of dock workers and sailors. / The drunken breath of a passer-by washes over me. / I’m safe, I’m not her, I whisper to myself. // … I run to the nearest pub. / I already lend my voice to those / who cannot speak. / I write the first word. / The beginning of stories.”
All this is also bitterly and cruelly set in the poems of Cvetka Bevc, which follows the writer’s life story between 1888 and 1920. In the non-chronologically composed collection, she follows the writer who stood up for an emancipated woman, a creator and an educated woman and wanted to prove that she was an independent woman it can also be a wife and mother. It follows the author, who also depicted in her works of fiction the obstacles that block women’s path to independence. And who not only wrote about it, but also lived it. Thus, the poet joins the search for parallels between her homage to Zofka Kveder and feminism.
Because of all the hardships, the female characters in Zofka Kveder’s works suffer, in some texts they lose their mind or decide to voluntarily die. Even the twice-married mother of three girls was not spared divorces and deceptions, nor did she ever get over the pain of the death of her first-born while studying in Prague. »She doesn’t remember how many times / she created a new home, / during each move she guessed / if this one might be the last one, / because this time she will / inhabit it with dragons to devour / the lack. And she will be a winner / at least over hunger. Unpaid bills. / Unlucky love. A blank sheet. / I work in the breaking of the night.”
Cvetka Bevc’s poems have a basis in the writer’s biography and mostly feminist views from her literary heritage. It is noticeable that the songs support each other, belong to each other, flirt with the past and at the same time completely belong to the present. For the world is no more indulgent, no less gloomy, no more cordial.
The poems are systematically arranged in seven sections with seven poems of different lengths, each preceded by a prologue, written in the first person and emphasized with a different typography. In each section, there is one one-line poem, which – in addition to the telling title – participates as an accent in the narrative sequence. It is this that acts like a butterfly, which addresses the reader with its shocking touch, creates a special transcendental communication with him, excites him and thus encourages him to discover and change himself in accordance with his own inclinations and feelings about who he is and who he can be . The poetic communication with the reader in this collection corresponds to a descent from the historical stage, and it is an intimately personal and not a lofty address. Not didactic, not ideological.
Make no mistake, the emotional songs about the portrait of Zofka Kveder are not the alter ego of the poet Cvetka Bevc! Even though her shadow also shines through the image of the protagonist as a mild reflection, this is still a lyrical project – a painted image of an outstanding writer and feminist. Which ji, when becoming a shadow of its shadow and darkness in the body of darkness, the words belong again. So valuable in today’s time, which unfortunately pushes the achievements of women’s emancipation into a distant century in many parts of the world.
From the show From the book market.