Poetry is an ambiguous craft: An online interview with Iliya Bolotyansky


Iliya Bolotyansky (Ansky) (b. 1983) is a poet of Russian–Jewish descent. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming (as Iliya Ansky), in Anemone Sidecar, Contemporary & Literary Horizons (with translations of his poetry to Romanian), Cantaraville and GRASP.

Dupur Mitra: Do you think poetry plays a role in your society? If yes how and if not why?

Iliya Bolotyansky: Poetry is an ambiguous craft. An arrested lit, if you will. And it is present in many societies, including the one I am currently in. And this is distributed around loci where language is by itself and is not sacred anymore, sacred because of its initial affinity to nature that at one time let it emerge as its most promising descriptor. People have appropriated language for themselves in a variegated and continuous secular act. In the beginning, the difference between, say, a rock and the word for it was very small. Now, such a word evokes many things, for better or worse.

Dupur Mitra: Who are your major influences as a poet?
Iliya Bolotyansky: The day to day, and everything that is in it. Flaneuring helps me to unlock its premises, inside and outside, when it is not too cold.

Dupur Mitra: What does being a poet mean to you?
Iliya Bolotyansky: I have not thought of myself as a poet, not as an epigrammatist either. I write segments and I name them. Occasionally I have been asked to provide descriptions of myself in 3rd person and used the words ‘poet’ and ‘poem’ because it is stochastically understandable, if that makes sense. But I am not very keen on them when they are applied in the context of what I write.

Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?
Iliya Bolotyansky: See 1st question, probably. I would be content with a self-contradicting definition that contains the seeds of surprise, but I would give it up in favor of the next best definition that comes along. I guess it could be the case for quite a few things out there.

Dupur Mitra: How do you write your poems?
Iliya Bolotyansky: I write when it is most inappropriate, mostly. That is the setting. But before that, I ought to have a subconscious grip on something that I am trying to define. The definition is what I write, give or take.

Dupur Mitra: Where do your ideas come from?
Iliya Bolotyansky: The usual mediums out of which a synthesis emerges that I may have little control of, except for when trying to think and focus.

Dupur Mitra: What part does music play in your poetry?
Iliya Bolotyansky: I listen to it before I write, at times. But I have to trick myself not to be directly inspired by it. I am yet to come to terms with listening to it when I write.

Dupur Mitra: Do you get inspiration from your readers?
Iliya Bolotyansky: It depends. But some of the people who read my work are in the category of people for whom I feel a great deal of respect, as far as the craft of their art is concerned, as well as on a personal level. Naturally, those kind of people inspire, and by far not only myself.

Dupur Mitra: What was the first poem you wrote?
Iliya Bolotyansky: There had been quite a few of those.


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