“Vera Polozkova cares about aesthetics.”
This sentence instantly popped up in my head when I heard Vera speak during our debate on “Blogs and Education”. She argued with fervor for learning the unnecessary, defending its ability to induce the creation of something beautiful against all materialistic circumcisions of the education system.
Although she is a VIP in the Russian blogosphere and a print-published poetess, of all the discussants, Vera seemed the most humble. Her contributions came as interjections or short anecdotes, brought forward in a calm voice, bearing an aesthetic that stood, fragile, but impressive, against all cold-hearted materialism.
On my last evening in Novosibirsk, I got the opportunity to find another proof that “Vera Polozkova cares about aesthetics”. Again it was Svetja that opened an unexpected door for us – this time not only of her car, but also of a reading by Vera in a private flat.
These underground readings, we were told, meant practically the only way for young people to come together apart from state-controlled events during the communist era. In those days, the poems read were often highly political and critical of the society. Today, the tradition is still held up by students, even though a civil society has formed in Russia.
When we got to the flat on a higher floor of a giant, anonymous apartment building, we encountered a scenery like I have never seen one before and do not dare hoping to find in Germany one day. The living room was packed with students, only slightly older than myself, sitting on couches, chairs and the floor, calmly looking at Vera. Her voice was somewhere between lightly chatting and serious lecture as she was reading a poem, her mimics accompanying the story in an emotional manner, sometimes lightly open, sometimes austerely withdrawn, sometimes dreamily moony.
Anastasia would provide me with summaries of the poems’ content. “If I say it, it sounds stupid, but from her it’s amazing,” she would often tell me, obviously impressed trying to explain the greatness of an ordinary story recited in the right words.
What’s a poetry evening if you don’t understand the poetry, you might ask. And all I can answer is: It’s impressive. There was the atmosphere in this room, ascending from the feeling of all the students to experience something great, something worthy. Something the value of which can only be measured in poetry itself. And there was Vera herself, sitting on a couch, reading from a notebook or even an iPhone, a guru amidst her believers, who for a moment had the air of a higher aesthetic. An aesthetic that is not just words, but rhymes and sounds and mimics, an aesthetic that is universal.