A series of conversations, lead by Elza Rauza, with the new generation of poets. Illustrations – Elza Jenzena.

Rihards Ošenieks, 20, student, poet

– What was your first meeting with poetry?

-5, 6 years ago I found a book in a charity shop by Ellis called Watermarks. The first thing I noticed was how beautiful it was and also I could not find a single soul that has ever heard about this book or the author, thus it held the position of uniqueness. The poetry had odd and not too ambitious poetic tendencies – those really spoke to me. 

-What do you mean by those tendencies?

-Those poems were in original forms. I was fascinated by the fact that I had the opportunity to stumble across something so qualitative, but still, nobody knew about it. It was good contemporary poetry. That was the first time I perceived the text by itself, without the attachment of the author because that is what I usually do. 

-Does it bother you that you don’t just read the text but also connect it to the author somehow?

-It doesn’t bother me but it can definitely leave a mark. Most of the time I would prefer to not know the author.

-Are there any other authors that have influenced, inspired you?

-I am inspired by music a lot. An artist close to my heart is Bob Dylan. I am fascinated by his lyrics. And a huge part of my inspiration comes from random books that I have collected throughout the years.

-What is the newest exploration in culture for you?

-While studying the theory of culture, I have been blown away by the huge amount of things that we can call culture, which for me makes it perplexed to define what culture is now. I am confused yet interested in the way culture can be synthesized with the modern world, especially technologies. I am not saying that I like it but it for sure interests me.

What is your relationship with pop culture?

-I am not sure about the definition of what we can call pop culture now because I feel like I am stuck three-four years ago in that sense that something I liked back then now is under the umbrella of pop culture. I am not against it but I wouldn’t say that I consume it. 

-I feel like a lot of artists “hate” pop culture because they think that it will make them appear more interesting even though that definitely is not the case.

-The thing is that it’s really hard to define what is and what it is not pop culture. But of course, there are people who hate it but most of the time it is just some type of showing off. I am not perfect when it comes to it, however I try as much as I can to keep my opinion to myself.

Do you judge books by its cover?

-Yes haha. 

At least you acknowledge it 😀

-Of course. But not always it is a bad thing – the outside appearance can help the plot of the book or vice versa. 

-Who do you write for?

-I don’t know. I definitely can’t say that I write for myself, that’s for sure. I don’t intend it for public inspection, even though in the past acknowledgment was important to me And I know that I definitely don’t write to clear my mind or something like that.

Is there an art/ philosiphical movement that is close to your heart?

-No. Actually i have huge problems with any type of affiliation to anything.

You don’t like puting yourslef in boxes?

-It’s not that I don’t like it, I just can’t succeed doing it. Looking back at my life, I can’t say that I ever felt comfortable doing that. I don’t even like to call myself a poet. 

What is the biggest difference between us and the older generations?

-Hhmm… I usually don’t like to do it, but now it is quite popular to always try to find the differences. Looking back at history starting from Egypt centuries B.C. people always have thought that the younger generations will ruin everything, so I don’t worry about that. Of course, growing up in the world of the internet definitely will leave a mark when it comes to our generation.

It’s good that you don’t want to compare because I have come across a lot of people who care only about that. 

-I support the theory that the names of the generations with all of those letters is a trick made by capitalism to make it easier to define the target audience. 

I haven’t thought about it in that way.

-All of this mostly comes from the western world, largely the USA. Here we can’t really identify by the typical generation signature signs because the political system used to be so much different, thus the overall lifestyle.

Do you feel that USA has an impact on us, Latvians?

-A huge one. Westernization can be seen in culture, sports, advertisement, brands and so much more.

The thing is that without western information on social media,  don’t think I have would come across and learn about social problems like racism, LGBTQ+ rights. do you also feel that it has helped you in some way?

-Of course. Every story has two sides. Especially when it comes to questions about discrimination.

A lot of people say that we just have to wait for the generational change.

-Of course, the best way to solve this problem would be to educate the elders, but it’s not realistic. 

Do you think that certain authorities play too big of a role in people’s lives?

-It depends. A human naturally has the tendency to obey someone standing higher than them. There are a lot of experiments on this like the Stanford prison experiment. Also, right now it feels like we are going in the opposite direction – there is no authority in some things. Now everyone can do anything. 

-What is they key to success?

-If I knew the answer to it, then I would be successful already haha. But I guess it’s important to not take anything too seriously and to be open to new experiences. Success is different to everyone – one wants to become a millionaire by robbing or being a drug dealer, others want a family. Find whatever floats your boat.

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September 6, 2020

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