You have a PhD in art history. Also, you are a poet. Has art influenced your poetry?
Yes, visual arts have somehow influenced my literature, poetry, essays, and prose. I did not want on purpose to take something from paintings or involve architecture as a significant background. On the other hand, the dialogue between art and literature goes deep in the past: from the very beginning we use language to describe the visual world and we think in images when we write or read. It is a reciprocal relationship that we are not fully aware of in everyday life. However, art is not the only subject of my books.
What is your PhD thesis about?
My PhD thesis was about Art Nouveau. I did research on Art Nouveau in Slovenia. Art Nouveau (or Secession) was a European phenomenon that spread between 1895-1910 before the real modern era started to breathe. It’s that kind of style that you admire, but in a sense, it’s also kitschy because of its ornamentation and decoration. It’s the last European style that looks into the mirror of past epochs and styles, before art embraced modernism, its tendencies to simplicity, straight forms, emptiness, etc.
Did you focus on Slovenian artists?
On one hand, I tried to find out how this phenomenon was integrated into the European atmosphere, on the other, I was investigating typical Slovene subjects and motifs.
You wrote poetry, a novel, a book of essays and also critical art. Was it difficult to move from poetry to another genre?
I think it was natural to go from one to another. I started with poetry. In the beginning, I didn’t want to publish at all. I was focusing on my study and poetry was just something that happened. Then, after my first book was published, I started to prepare material for another. Meanwhile, I started to write criticism and continued for several years. At a certain point I found out that I don’t want to evaluate other writers or poets and just have enough time for myself. My short stories were quite poetical and my poetry narrative from the beginning. So, this border has never been sharp for me. When I wrote my book of essays, I felt how I have to involve more logic and at some point reduce poetical elements. I think all writing should be the expression of inner necessity and that poetry, essay, prose are just different forms to express essential things. The “real literature” is a mixture of genres. I think that systematic distinctions between fiction, non-fiction, visual poetry, social critical poetry, etc. is also the result of academic simplification and book marketing strategies of the 20th century.
Our lives are not just a pure criminal or love story, a socially critical novel or psychological drama –they have elements of love, joy, fear, struggle to survive, which we can not isolate from each other. The question nowadays is how to entirely absorb pieces of broken reality. The best novels I’ve read were mixtures of different genres. Once you start from yourself, you don’t think about such distinctions. Maybe you think that this is gonna sound like a detective story, but you just move from one page to another without really having in mind that you have to follow some sort of rules.
Interview published here: https://www.bookaholic.ro/robert-simonisek-i-think-all-writing-should-be-the-expression-of-inner-necessity-and-that-poetry-essay-prose-are-just-different-forms-to-express-essential-things.html