Tbilisi: video of my reading and visit plus my translation of poems by Paata Shamugia

with Paata Shumugia in Tbilisi

Video from my visit to the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature intercuts my reading of “Thank You for Saying Thank You” with a translation by, and conversation with, Paata Shamugia. Thanks to festival director Nuka Gambashidze. Video from Indigo, Georgian literary magazine.

Video of my reading at the festival, May 15, 2018, with Shamugia on translations:

Lyrikline has recordings (and texts) of several of Paata Shamugia's poems. Here are translations I did of two of these poems, working with renditions by Saba Lekveishvili. 


I believe I saw God
standing in front of the post office
holding my book and a bottle
of vodka. I believe this makes no
sense and that the order of things
is unchanged. I believe
poetry will become crime stories
and at the end of the news
the anchors will rhyme a bank robbery
and a crime of passion
or Justin Bieber’s suspicious
behavior (and even more suspicious
career) and a weather report, which
will be as aesthetic as bucolic
poetry. I believe love
sometimes really exists
like when your kiss turns
my body into booty. I believe
that in our time acting evil’s boring
and only depressed bankers
practice it. I believe that a person
can die several times in a day
with no hope of being reborn —
which is not honorable behavior.
I believe that death is a shameful
compromise and that’s why I don’t
believe in those who manage it.


Trading Places

Hey, God, let’s trade places!
You be Paata Shamuglia
and I’ll be God.
It’s not as hard as it looks.
Lose some weight, let
your hair grow out, start
chain smoking. It’ll be a
bit boring, but by God you’ll
play it smart (just don't
put me in any hot water)! 

Every morning, you’ll wake up
in the studio and start getting calls
from your temporary father
(my old dad) about your uselessness.
You’ll get used to it.
I’ll be with the angels, taking on
Godlike manners, looking at earth
through the ozone. And every time
I want to change something, I
can change something. Finally.
I’ll feel like that.

with Galaktion Tabidze (1892–1952)