He smokes Camel grays. He translated Ginsberg into Lithuanian. Bushy grey hairs sprout from his pony tail–an unmistakable mane on a wiry frame. He quit drinking six years ago. He translated Bukowski. We worked together to put out an anthology of young Lithuanian poets in English. His literary knowledge is vast. He has read more than most people I know–in English, not to mention Lithuanian and Russian. We are now working together to put out a manuscript of his selected poems, and the poetry here is a part of that project. Marius Burokas is a poet and translator–a constant commentator on contemporary literature, an organizer of events, an editor of anthologies of new poetry, a family man. His poetry is rooted in the daily life of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Unlike much of the neo-romantic, nationalist verse of the last century that came out of a country struggling for independence, Marius is part of a new generation ushering in the postmodern era of interrogation and transnationality. In his second poetry collection, Conditions (Būsenos), he marks himself as a Lithuanian poet while standing naked in an American laundromat–not in the countryside, not on an ancient castle hill as would be expected in the hoary neo-romantic vein that dominated Lithuanian poetry until recently. In his I’ve learned how not to be (Išmokau nebūti), which won him the Young Jotvingian Prize in 2011, his Vilnius is the city outside of the renovated, tourist-filled, historical Old Town. Dingy dives and impersonal apartment blocks present the reader with a seedy and grim contemporary landscape. Whether thematically or stylistically, in a free-verse style indebted to William Carlos Williams, the beats, and the deep-image poets, Marius positions himself outside of traditional Lithuanian perspectives. He sees different aspects of life in Vilnius and he sees more typical aspects differently. So when he describes a traditional folk festival, he brings out the cruelty that lies behind the superficial enjoyments and smug nationalism. Burokas searches for meaning in a fallen world, while death in the form of a naked prostitute calls to him from an apartment window.
– Rimas Uzgiris
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).