Małgorzata Dawidek Gryglicka – Stanisław Dróżdż
Fragments of a Conversation

– You admitted that you came up with an idea of a different type of poetry as early as a student…

– Yes, I did. At one time, after reading dozens or even hundreds of set books, and I had really a lot of them to read, I realised that it was not what I intended to achieve. Firstly, each poem, drama or novel had its beginning and ending. I was wondering where this beginning had originated from. In the beginning was a word – I do not allude to this quotation without any reasons – and not simply The hounds set out for the forest… as it was in the novels by Żeromski. Then, when it comes to poems, as I was interested mainly in poetry, why do poems start with a phrase like Daddy has not been coming back evenings or mornings… Daddy left a long time ago and what was then? What happened when he finally returned? Was mummy happy? I was haunted by such questions. So I simply decided to write something without any beginning or ending which could defy the frames of the beginning and ending and I hope that in most cases I managed to achieve it.

– How did you then [during the first exhibitions of your works in the late 1960s – added by EŁ] define what you were doing?

– Before I found out that it was concrete poetry, I had coined the term of Concept-Shapes. That was the first name. Then I used the expression: Concept-Shapes. Concrete poetry. It was the title of the exhibition held in Foksal Gallery [in 1971 – EŁ].

– Concrete poetry was conceived and functions between the disciplines, which means it cannot be perceived as a separate movement or trend because it still has certain connections with related spheres.

– You know that for me it is a separate discipline but it is too late to talk about it. It should have been discussed in the 1950s. I am disgusted when someone refers to what I create as fine arts although I belong to the Association of Polish Artists and Designers (laughter). Concrete poetry is a completely integral discipline, whereas it may use the means of the other areas of art (excluding poetry), which does not prevent it from being concrete poetry. The water which flows through the mill wheel is the same water which is before the mill wheel. It performs certain work and returns to itself. But you know, an art historian may make a mistake. You must emphasise in your text that Dróżdż says that he has nothing to do with art but he deals with poetry.

– Your concrete poetry originates from your literary work you created before. Would you agree with the opinion that concrete poetry is a specific form of activation and updating lyrical speech?

– It is not an update, it may be activation. The knowledge gained throughout my studies was used by me against these studies. Actually, concrete poetry is not directed against lyrics: it has nothing to do with lyrics. It appears besides concrete prose.

– And how will you classify it, does it have a chance to become a separate literary genre?

– It is a separate genre. It does not belong to lyrics or epics or drama. It is, in fact, a separate genre.

– Do you perceive any relation between the Constructivist approach towards painting as adopted by Władysław Strzemiński and the Structuralist application of the language in concrete poetry? I can see the roots of your art somewhere between Białoszewski and Strzemiński, between linguistic poetry and Constructivism, concrete art.

– Certainly, I do. I used the language in my work the way Strzemiński did colour – it was the material. However, I have not created anything as a tribute to anyone. Concrete poetry has nothing to do with conceptual art and any fine arts at all. Although it resembles artistic techniques, it itself remains poetry. ‘Żyłki’ [Fishing Lines] [the work presented in Foksal Gallery in Warsaw, 2002 – EŁ] is not any example of fine arts. They call it environment but it is not environment, either. Environment is a term relating solely to fine arts. Tadeusz Sławek has never referred to my work między [in-between] as environment, although he perfectly knows this term but Anda Rottenberg refers to it this way.

– What is language for you? Is that a manipulation, entanglement, or a game?

– It depends on the way we approach it. There are the areas of language which we do benefit from and which we do not. We can choose and speculate. That is where the combinatorics of rules originates from. Language is a game not in a colloquial meaning of this word as a game of bridge, poker, chess, or volleyball. There is nothing funny about the game, madam. It is a Russian roulette.

November – December 2006

Text published in the exhibition catalogue Stanisław Dróżdż, początekoniec. Pojęciokształty. Poezja konkretna. Prace z lat 1967- 2007 / beginend. Concept-Shapes. Concrete Poetry. Works 1967- 2007, Ośrodek Kultury i Sztuki we Wrocławiu, Wrocław, 2009