Monday, October 12, 2009

Anton the Poet

"Autumn lives in me."

I have met Ukraine's next poet laureate. If there isn't such a post now, a new president should create one.

Anton is a handsome young man, maybe in his 30s. He loves to read and write. He loves books. He's read widely in Ukrainian and Russian literature, of course, but also in the literatures of other countries. He's read the whole Bible for it's stories and spiritual sustenance.

Reading for Anton is a painstaking process, but he can't stop. He loves words. He loves to see them, savour them, turn them around into his own poems and stories.

Anton is almost blind. He has no sight in his right eye, and very little in his left eye. He was born with this condition, which he says is glaucoma but I wonder if it might be something else, what I don't know. Times like this I wish I was in a large city with a topnotch medical center. I'd refer Anton to the best medical care available. I have this feeling that Anton's sight might have been saved if he had been treated earlier and with more expertise. I don't know this for sure, just a feeling. I keep it to myself.

Anton keeps writing. It's his saving grace. His greatest supporters, he says, are his mother, a librarian, and Rosalie, the love of his life who lives in Israel. She's much older than he, but he loves older women. They share a passion for poetry and words. Roasalie will be visiting soon, and he hopes he'll be able to visit her in Israel one day. He also has a fat cat,Trey, whom he adores. Trey keeps him company. "I read my poetry to him," he says with a smile. "Very good critic!"

Today over tea I tell Anton I love the fall. "Autumn lives in me," he says. What do you mean? "I mean that sadness lives in me." I look puzzled. "I see the world through sadness." What a pity, I reply. "No no," he answers. "It's good, it's okay. I find happiness and goodness from that source."

Anton is compiling his poems into a book. He's calling this volume "Almost Twins." Why "almost" twins, I ask. "Because it's me and my talent, we are twins, but my talent is bigger than me," he explains.

Poets are complicated people. I decide not to try to make sense of all this. I listen and absorb the spirit of it. Such a brilliant spirit it is! Full of light. Anton, the poet laureate of Ukraine.

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