Monday, November 4, 2019

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are speaking with Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė, a poet and translator from Lithuania.

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

Any plan or project sounds to me similar not to a website to which I write my answers to the editor’s questions but to a web of a spider which can easily be interrupted by the outer forces. But yes, I have a plan.

First of all, needless to say, that I feel a great inspiration being here, in Iowa City, an inspiration from my brothers and sisters writers in IWP, an inspiration from all the great amount of activities held by the Program, and from everything what Iowa City UNESCO CITY of LITERATURE presents. So I wish that this inspiration which I feel from the whole surrounding atmosphere would be free-flowing, such free-flowing as the Iowa River until its natural way is dammed by human efforts by means of which the river of inspiration would give its energy – electricity – back to the City. Secondly, I am interested in American poetry in the 21st century which I would like to present to the readers in Lithuania as much as the translation of the poems of writers in IWP Residency as well as anybody’s else whose creation strikes me most.


2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

My daily practice allows me to write early in the morning. I am an early bird, getting up usually at 5-5:30 am, because I am used to this practice since raising my children and having my early hours as Sylvia Plath had them. So some morning hour I can spend reading and writing.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

Research is pleasure for me so I am currently reading American Poets in the 21st century, edited by Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell. But yesterday almost against my will I took a novel by Anthony Horowitz “The Word is Murder”, having in mind that a rude word can even kill, so enchanted by the title of the book. This novel can be read as fast as fast food is served, but sometimes it seems amusing to take fast serving when the brain is tired of the exceptional refined food. Together with this novel I took from the library “The Best of the Best American Poetry Anthology” edited by Guest Editor Robert Pinsky and Series Editor David Lehman.

4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

The one thing the readers and writers should know is that I am not satisfied by myself and by my work, but the two of us are not yet extending.

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from - share some favorite details about your home.

I wish I could bring to you the inexhaustible sound of the Baltic Sea waves in stormy days and the mirror surface of the sea looking at which one can see one’s own face on days when there is no wind. My homeland is Lithuania. My native town Kaunas is the second largest town in Lithuania and reminds me Iowa City that’s why I feel here almost as at home. Kaunas has been recommended for European Capital of Culture 2022 in Lithuania by the selection panel of independent experts responsible. And it will be. Started in 1985 European Capitals of Culture have developed into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the EU’s most appreciated activities. The goal of it is more relevant than ever: to provide Europeans with opportunities to learn more about each other’s cultures, to enjoy their shared history and values and to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community. So I look forward to seeing Kaunas give visitors from Europe and all over the world the opportunity to discover the city and its cultural assets but also to appreciate the diversity of cultures in Europe. I look forward to see the inhabitants of Iowa in my native town as well.


Thank you Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė!

Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė (poetry, translation; Lithuania) has published 15 books of poetry, and three books of children’s poetry. Among her many national awards is the Poezijos Pavasaris National Poet Laureateship. A prolific translator from the English, she has had her own work translated into more than ten languages; the bilingual Lithuanian-English volume Terribly in Love appeared in 2018. She participates courtesy of the Paul and Hualing Engle Foundation.