What is a poet? I cannot imagine there could be a man consumed by poetry, living through poetry and in the same time having the devilish craving to turn into a monster overnight so he could use his poetry the same way one uses toilet paper or foreign currency. I am a poet too, that’s why j’accuse. I know what is like to have your blood overpopulated with words and to breath poetry. That’s why I cannot understand poetry without virtue. The virtue of innocence and of a good will. I mean, yes sure I can understand a poet having human vices and still being a poet. But not a poet who uses the poetry as his vice or to serve his vices – that’s why I don’t see Adrian Paunescu as a poet.
Words serve words and thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Poetry serves poetry, not presidents and political regimes.
Rhymes can chant ideologies only as a pretext for poetry, not as a goal in itself.
Poetry NEVER serves the Poet. Poetry leaves the poet to himself.
That’s why I see Adrian Paunescu as an impostor who received the gift of gods and instead to give the fire to the people, he burnt it for his own terrestrial altar to his megalomaniac self. Yes, he was a womanizer, it still doesn’t matter to his poetry, I agree with that. He was an abusive man to his first wife and a tyrant with his kids, he betrayed his friends and lied – there are million of men like him and some poets too. This doesn’t make him less of a poet, I am not arguing with that.
His biggest crime was committed with the first rhyme he used to massacre human consciences and to serve the devil. To lure the youth into his charismatic spider web-like personality and to lie to the young kids, through his poetry, that they are free to fly, free to believe in whatever they wanted, free to speak up. In the mean time, the Poet was getting fatter by the second with social advantages for serving the regime, while the young kids (me included) went back home to their dark houses (no electricity, no food, no heat), facing the cold and confusing reality where nothing was what it seemed to be. But still dreaming of the songs just heard, still warmed by the verses just digested, still thinking there was a truth and the truth was told on that big stage by that big man who could have changed the world if he wanted to.
Where were our parents then? Building this cage even stronger through their silent complicity or noisy applauds, spying on their brother or neighbor, lying and cheating, stealing and being the ones who secured the communist regime a bright and strong future by not fighting back, by not speaking up the truth, by not being free the way Paunescu’s poetry said they already are. That’s why Paunescu was so successful among my generation – we thought that at least somebody said something and whatever it was said, it was more than the nothingness we had. We only had ourselves and our rebellion without cause, while Paunescu had the gods and the Communist Party on his side.
Without having access to the outside cultural world, we didn’t have the necessary comparison terms to see that Paunescu’s shows were just simulacra of west civilization’s big themes of the moment, such as flower power movement. But Paunescu’s shows were a tacky copy of Woodstock and pacifist movements, in fact serving the communist president Ceausescu and his dictatorial clique. His poetry was sickening, getting us high on a drug-like euphoria, feeling strong against imaginary enemies (the capitalists, usually), feeling important and valuable, as the songs sang and as the poetry said and as that impressive Poet promised to us.
When the Communist Party leader I was talking about in the first part of this story dared to massacre my love poem and turn it into a patriotic hymn, I knew it. It was my moment of truth, despite our parent’s mute lives, despite of the generalized lie, despite of the darkness. Then and there I quit on my dream of becoming a journalist in my country, which I first had when my mom somehow managed to obtain some French publications for me to read. Somehow, I knew it even before then (I’ll tell that story later), but it was not a conscious thought, it was more like an ineffable spleen without cause, a rebellion I thought it’s rooted in my abused childhood. But now I know this is the way every other child should have felt, because we all shared the same victim roles in our parents and our Poets and our Beloved President real world.