Cold Call

Sally Chatterton Rings TIM GADASKI
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The Independent Culture
WE WERE half-way through our conversation before Tim told me that he was naked. I was unsure how to react to this information, thinking that if I pursued the subject of his precise state of undress, our conversation might suddenly take on overtones of Nicholson Baker's discourse on telephone sex. I calmly continued with the conversation, trying hard not to conjure too vivid a picture of the naked poet on the other end of the phone line.

"Nudity," explains Tim Gadaski, one half of The Naked Russian Poets who are currently appearing in the First International Festival of Naked poets, "is a way of revitalising and returning to the essence of poetry. It is the only art which can be created naked. You don't even need a pen and paper as the poem can be memorised. It's just me and the words, free from artificial constraints and devices. Nudity is the only way to experience this; clothes like chains must be thrown away."

To a cynic, the fact that they perform naked simply smacks of being an artificial device, devised to attract attention.

"This is what many people think," comes the naked reply, "but for me it is a liberation. I can focus on expression which becomes more potent and true. Words which are dull and lifeless when in magazines or books are revitalised. Most of our audience understand and appreciate this."

"I thought initially that the English would be prudish and conservative regarding the naked body, but an audience has turned up to experience the poetry and will even be invited to join in on Sunday. If they just wanted to see naked people, they could go to a nudist beach or a brothel."

Nudist poetry is, in fact, sweeping Europe and Tim's reputation for it precedes him.

"I was performing some time ago, fully clothed, and I was pelted with tomatoes until I took my clothes off. I don't think I will ever be able to perform with my clothes on again. It doesn't bother me though because this is how I prefer to perform."

It isn't, however, how he prefers to live.

"What we are doing is completely different from naturism. They shop naked, play sport naked, get on the bus naked. Sheer nudity alone isn't the point of what we are doing - it is nudity in conjunction with creativity, not just the routine of the everyday."

There does, however, seem to be a lack of a coherent philosophy in his work beyond the novelty of nudity. This is perhaps because he struggles with the English language and cannot quite vocalise exactly what he means. He tries, though.

"My poetry is about the meaning of life. I am trying to understand my life through poetry and also through my art. I need to have art in my life. Some people don't and their lives are grey and have no sense. I expose myself in every sense through my poetry and in that I find sense and meaning."