Tuesday, 14 August 2018 | News today: 19

MANU pays tribute to poet Mateja Matevski (1929-2018)

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The passing of Mateja Matevski, one of the greatest figures of contemporary Macedonian poetry, was commemorated at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) on Friday. Matevski died on June 6. He was 89.

MANU’s president Taki Fiti described Matevski as ‘a person of fascinating erudition who has left behind a grand opus, a lavish gift extending far beyond the borders of our country.’

“He represented an epoch in Macedonian poetry,” Fiti said. “Not only was he an extraordinary poet, intellectual, scholar, and social figure, but he also was a noble person with a kind heart, profound wisdom, thoughtfulness, calmness, and fascinating tolerance.

“He was and will remain the pride of Macedonia and MANU, his family, friends, and admirers.”

Fiti added that Matevski headed MANU at a challenging, turbulent time (2001-2003) when the Academy needed a person of Matevski’s intellectual capacities and human values.

Renowned poet and literary scholar Vlada Urosevikj spoke about Matevski’s poetry oeuvre, which ended with his 24th poetry collection Dark Daynights published in 2017.

Translated into more than twenty languages, Matevski was himself a superb translator from eight languages, Urosevikj said, describing his translations from the Spanish as ‘exquisite.’

“Bed-ridden during his final years, he stayed true to his ideals and wrote until his final breath,” Urosevikj said. “He modernized Macedonian poetic language, sharpening its sensibility and revealing its hidden possibilities.

“Mateja Matevski was the first Macedonian poet whose lines sounded truly modern, and his poetry hasn’t lost any of its depth and originality to this day.”

Equally committed to theater, Matevski was the first professor of World Drama and Theater History at the Music Academy’s Department for Dramatic Acting, now the Faculty of Dramatic Arts.

He pioneered theater criticism in Macedonia with his reviews broadcast by Radio Skopje in 1953/54 and covered theater performances for Razgledi magazine in the 1960s. He had a degree from Skopje’s Faculty of Philosophy, but also studied Modern French Theater and Drama at the Theater Institute in Paris, France.

Jelena Luzina, a professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, said that teaching was not just an occupation for Matevski, but a calling. She described him as an activist by birth, someone who genuinely cared about the common good.

Luzina recalled a day in June 2011, when Matevski came to the Macedonian National Theater to see the actors rehearse for the play based on his poetry book Longing for Wholeness.

“The troupe was ready to perform for the established literary figure, the poet from the textbooks, much-lauded recipient of numerous awards and Nobel candidate, but the man they met was a humble, thoughtful, noble and incredibly modest person, who had the deepest respect for their work, their passion, and their enthusiasm.

“He was enormously grateful to them for giving their attention to his poems, and for the opportunity to experience his poetry from a different perspective,” Luzina said.

Longing for Wholeness was on the theater’s repertoire for two seasons, she said, breaking down prejudice that poetry is hermeneutic, uncommunicative, and not suited to the stage.

A condolence book has been placed at MANU for anyone wishing to express their condolences on the loss of Mateja Matevski (March 13, 1929 – June 6, 2018).

MANU’s president Taki Fiti said the Academy had received a significant number of telegrams of condolence since yesterday, including condolence letters by the President and the Prime Minister of Macedonia.