Rings Around Saturn
There are few more tantalizing names in contemporary culture than Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, both as a European and American artist, architect, writer, and poet. His cultural and intellectual roots are firmly planted in Europe as a citizen of both Finland and Lithuania. In spirit, he is a Baltic phenomenon; greatly influenced by both Lithuanian and Scandinavian literature and traditions. He divides his time between both Europe and the United States, and continues to live and work most of his time along the Mississippi River, where most of his inspiration, observations, and dialogue with nature occur.
While taking a position as one of Scandinavia's leading voices in the world of literature, the poet also demonstrates a rare and profound intellect, immersed within a metaphysical context, and writing in a strong and impassioned European literary context with poetic works influenced by Greek-Roman history and tradition, Lithuanian pagan culture, Finnish mythology, and old Norse literature?form Ovid to Swedenborg.
His latest enterprise, Rings Around Saturn, a new collection of poetry written in 2012-2013, is presented in a series of 178 "Rings;" where each ring expounds the mystical connection between man and the Universe, dream and reality, love and anguish, mortality and the Divine. Each ring concentrically blends into the next as if it were one continues narrative or stream of consciousness. It is this mystical interconnection, poem to poem, that makes the poet's writing intense, thoughtful, introspective, and a dialogue of universal Existential concerns.
In his dialogue, the poet recounts an individual ring of the planet Saturn, contemplating the existence of the Universe?a universe as a whole, as well as its various parts so arranged as to produce a vast array of good and bad effects. In his monologue, the poet often attempts to clarify the chaos to generate an ordered universe (kosmos), while attempting to reveal a mystic insight to the universal aspects of the human mind.
Like Plato, Narkiewicz-Laine recounts the beauty of orderliness of the universe, not only as the manifestation of Intellect; but also in a model for rational souls to understand and to emulate. According to the poet, such understanding and emulation restores the soul to its original state of excellence, a state that was lost in their embodiment. There is, then, an explicit and deliberate ethical and spiritual dimension to the poet's discourse.
In his verse, the poet's voice journeys freely through life's fear, elation, superstition, trepidation, and speculation. All in life, the poet understands?its loves, losses, doubts, stark, most times, brutal awakenings?are but mere signposts along that journey.
The poet lives a reality in which everything is shadows or reflections of shadows on the walls of a cavern of words.
In Rings Around Saturn, his poems capture the long Scandinavian winters, the rhythm of the seasons and the palpable, atmospheric beauty of nature, life on a Greek island, and sense of mystery and wonder underlying the routine of everyday life, a quality which often gives his poems a profound spiritual dimension.
The work, in its impulsive or anguished moments, reveals a lucid intelligence and intellectual enlightenment that pervades and sustains critical, profoundly personal meditation.
As a poet, painter, and sculptor, his work frequently liquefies art together with literature where the boundaries are blurred totally and the two often become one. He uses the written word to provide insight into the ideas and themes behind his work, illuminating a path to political and social self-awareness.
To the artist-poet, images and words are abstract symbols that both denote actual things, like people, objects, and places, and connote more abstract ideas, feelings, concepts, and theories. Given this shared function, it makes sense that the boundaries between words and images often overlap and that the two are so frequently juxtaposed. Since the dawn of civilization the relationship between written words and pictures has been manipulated to communicate ideas. It has also inspired countless artists around the globe, whose works demonstrate how text and image can enhance, supplement, complicate, or even undermine each other's meanings. As both poet and artist, Narkiewicz-Laine harnesses the tension between word and image to form identities, challenge authority, and make sense of a world in constant change?both as art and as propaganda.
Much of his writing is informed by a lifelong interest in man and his symbols and gods and in the position of Man (both as individual and mankind) in a world where the Divine is no longer present, no longer speaking.
Throughout Rings Around Saturn, the poet searches for a God in a truly god-less universe. While not outright denying the Divine's existence, the poet struggles with all that is clearly invisible and clearly intangible. While he considers the absence of a God entirely, he tries to reconcile the disparities of having no God. He often times refers to the Divine as both the great "Creator" and the great "Annihilator." The only result of the poet's painful search is a deafening silence that continues to overwhelm and overtake our lives, our thoughts, our directions, our movements, our purpose, and our beings.
Narkiewicz-Laine is considered to be one of the "most influential new Scandinavian poets of recent decades," and his works have appeared in English, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Russian, and Beylorussian.
"Rings Around Saturn," by Christian Narkiewicz-Laine is published by Metropolitan Arts Press (ISBN: 0-935119-39-6), 298 pages. 21.95 Euro.
Rings Around Saturn is presented at a special exhibition of the artist's work presented under the auspices of the
The poet often declares: "I wish I were pronounced a heretic so I could be burned publically at the stake."