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Learn me by heart

Shota Iatashvili

(Georgia, 1966)

In 1990, the Georgian poet Shota Iatashvili published his first poems. At that time, much was at stake in Georgia: in 1989, the country declared itself independent, after which it was swept into a maelstrom of revolution, war and chaos. Against the shaky background of armed peace that sought to establish itself a couple of years later, the young artists and writers returned to their artistic life. Shota Iatashjvili joined a group of socially committed artists who gathered together their literary performances and alternative actions under the name Tbilisi Performance Theatre.

Learn Me by Heart

Learn me by heart this evening,
Then lie down and go to sleep.
In the morning, when you wake up,
Repeat me.
I shall lie down by your side and
I shall go sweetly to sleep,
I shall see you in my dreams with your head bent over me,
And muttering.
I shall dream of you telling trees, stars about me,
As you go out into the town and
Entrust an object to each person you meet
With the name “Shota”.

Learn me by heart this evening,
Then go to sleep and be all alert,
Only in the morning
Entrust me to people and things,

Perhaps I’m a poem,
Perhaps I’m a man,
Perhaps I’m bamboo.

Learn me by heart,
Or just swot me up —
That’s OK by me.


Shota Iatashvili
June, 2013

Translated from Georgian by Donald Rayfiel

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Georgia, 1966 Published his first poems in 1990. Typical of his poetry is the attention paid to everydayness and the ecletic style in which he describes this. Apart from being a man of poetry, Iatashvili is also a prolific prose writer and essayist.


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