One of the most popular Belarusian poets, prose-writers and essayists, translated into nearly 20 languages. Born in 1953 in Polotsk, Arlou studied History in Minsk. He worked as a teacher and a journalist. He published over 20 books in prose and a few volumes of poetry. Since 1989, he has been a member of board of the Belarusian PenClub. Arlou is also a board member of the independent Belarusian Writers’ Society. In 1996, he was dismissed from his post in a publishing house by Lukashenka’s authorities for “publishing historical literature and other works of a doubtful quality”. Arlou actively supported democratic candidates during presidential elections in Belarus. In 2007, his works were removed from the school curriculum. Two collections of Arlou’s poetry have been published in Polish: “Рэквіем для бензапілы” (Requiem for a Chainsaw) and “Каханак яе вялікасці” (Her Majesty’s Lover).
A Ferry through the English Channel
Arlou’s poetry makes a record of experiences, impressions of books and journeys, and reflections by a contemporary man. The blank verse imposes a private tone of expression that is protected from an over-discourse by paradox humour and slightly ironic distance. The speaker takes no pose, uses a regular voice, without shouting he defends the sovereignty of his feelings to a woman, attachment to a child’s memories of the days, places and even superstitions gone by. The speaker does it even when, in the name of those rules, he has to defend collective dignity, freedom and identity of his country and nation. The one who speaks here is a free and separate man but not a parochial one - and this is the perspective that he offers to his native Belarus. What makes Arlou stronger is not what overcomes him but his own privacy - it keeps on going and will survive in a civilized world, a human world.