The Kaunas Full of Culture magazine dedicated its May 2019 issue to the art and joy of poetry. You can pick up a free copy of the magazine (it’s available in Lithuanian AND English) in various places around Kaunas, including the tourism information centre in the Town Hall. There’s also an online version! Today, we’re sharing a talk with a Spanish Erasmus student Adrian Pedrazas Profumo who sat down with Kotryna Lingienė to discuss Kaunas and poetry.
I met Adrian Pedrazas Profumo from Barcelona entirely by accident in the famous underground passage connecting the Old Town and downtown Kaunas. He was part of a Scandinavian days workshop conducted by the Kaunas city municipality and Fluxus Labs program of Kaunas 2022, and I was invited to review the workshop. After exchanging a couple of sentences, I found out Adrian, now 26, is not only an Erasmus architecture student in Kaunas University of Technology, but also a photographer, an illustrator, and a poet. I could not ask more for the poetry issue of Kaunas Full of Culture, could I?
Adrian, how did you find out about the workshop?
I joined another Kaunas 2022 event one just before the Scandinavian days - it was Cafe du Monde, a storytelling workshop. I went there because I was invited by a close friend of mine - she's from Kaunas but is currently studying in Paris. She always recommends articles to read, things to do and events to attend. This was one of them! I met this friend the second day I arrived here.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
I had my doubts, even though I knew I wanted to be an architect since I was a little kid when I constructed toy castles. I also did ceramics and painting since I was quite young. Architecture for me was a mixture of art and science, even though I didn't really like the technical part, but I realised it would be useful for me. So, after school, I applied to a few different subjects, including architecture, graphic design and fine arts. I got into architecture, but now I kind of regret it. The knowledge, of course, incredibly useful, but it's a continuing sacrifice. It's now my ninth year in architecture studies.
Did other fields of art interfere in your studies? Photography, maybe?
My aunt bought me a camera for Christmas during my first year at university, and I started using it. During my second year, I got pretty close with my drawing teacher, and she really liked my photographs, so we started working together on an enterprise for private lessons on various subjects of art. It was tricky because studying architecture requires a lot of time and dedication. For one year, I photographed for free. Then I got some paid jobs, more and more, so I took a break from my studies.
... and how did you end up in Kaunas for your Erasmus? Was Lithuania your top choice?
Kaunas was my choice because of the country and the city itself, not because of the studies. KTU is quite different from Barcelona, it's quite technical, and back home we are more artistic. I was also thinking about Glasgow because of school. The Glasgow school of arts also has excellent photography and graphic design departments, and you can study it all. But Glasgow was a half-year offer, instead of one year in Kaunas. Also, Lithuania is much cheaper than Scotland.
Moreover, I'm really close with one teacher in my faculty, who is a physics lecturer. He's the kind of person you want to hug! And he's also a coordinator of Lithuania as an Erasmus destination, so I knew a little bit about your country because of him.
How did you imagine Kaunas before coming here?
Like this, actually. Something in the middle of everything. Not a city with a strongly expressed personality - maybe it has one, but it's difficult to find. But I really like it there. I needed this. It's actually the first time I am in another country for such a long time. I enjoy exploring the different neighbourhoods of Kaunas. Many people don't advise me to go there because of aesthetic reasons, but it's very subjective.
Which part of Kaunas is the most photogenic for you?
Putvinskio street. It's unique from the architectural point of view. I love the many stairs leading from the centre, too. You know, in fact, I am currently making a short film about my stay here. It is telling about my feelings before coming here, while living in Kaunas, and before leaving. It's quite poetic.
Poetry was the reason we met! What kind of poet are you?
I mix the written and visual forms of poetry. My illustrations are not only illustrating the poems but also part of them. I write in Spanish, sometimes even in English. Usually, I write for someone, as a present for people I love. Sometimes, I write for myself. The topics I cover are quite universal. I often write about what's surrounding me and what I feel. For a long time, I didn't know if I was able to write, but I started because I was struggling with personal issues. Now, I kind of continue this habit. I relate my feelings to the way I behave and relate myself with people I meet here. Architecture, too. In fact, the poetic expression of architecture criticism is quite an exciting field. Take, for example, the works of the Japanese writer Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. It's not poetry, but it's very poetic.
What can you tell us about Spanish poetry? What about the contemporary poetry scene in Barcelona?
Well, I usually read unknown poets. For the last five years, I was very much into classical poetry, but now I prefer opening books without any prior knowledge about the contents. In Barcelona, I often go to a bar called "Cronopios", like the fictional personalities created by Julio Cortázar. The place is dedicated to slam poetry and live music, which is always connected to poetry in one way or another. In fact, this bar dragged me deeper into poetry, from writing as a therapy to writing because I want to write.