This year the Total Dictation has celebrated its “adulthood”.  The worldwide educational event was held for the eighteenth time. The Philological Faculty of Herzen University is one of the oldest sites of Saint Petersburg. It warmly welcomes everyone who wants to test literacy. We had a talk with an experienced “reader”, or “dictationer,” as she jokingly calls herself, Svetlana Surganova. She has been the reader of the Total Dictation at the Faculty of Philology for the fourth time. Svetlana Yakovlevna told about her attitude to songs and poetry, to Pushkin and Rozanov and, of course, to the Total dictation.

– Svetlana Yakovlevna, what motivates you to come to the Philology Faculty again and again to read the dictation?

– I like the faculty itself; I like philology and people who study literature and language. I have some kind of special respect for this profession and for this side of life in general. I also feel personal sympathy for Marina Levina, who organizes all this. Next year will be a jubilee for me – the fifth year of supporting this necessary and important event. Literacy entails a culture of communication, a culture of writing. It affects behavior and lifestyle and, if we follow the logic path, the principles of general welfare, intellectual and psychological well-being of the city and the country.

– Do you feel that you are reading the dictation at the Pedagogical University? Is there a special atmosphere here? Are the walls helping you?

– Of course, I am aware that people who are studying within these walls will further teach language and culture to others. It energizes and disciplines me. I’d like to keep up with this institution, building and these walls.

– Your new art space is called “PushkinRyadom” (“Pushkin is Near”). How do you feel about Pushkin?

– With worship and love. He is an inexhaustible source of knowledge, wisdom and humor. I want to learn more and more about his personality, to interact with him even in everyday life. I wish I could take ice baths and occasionally race horses the way he did! He was so light, so amorous, emotionally open, sometimes eccentric, and at the same time he was so scrupulous in working with texts, such a pedant of details, such a lump. Very often I am overwhelmed by realization that such a person was born in our country. He spoke Russian, he wrote in Russian, and we have the pleasure of reading his works and studying him. Yuriy Lotman writes very well about Pushkin, I enjoy reading his books.

– And what is your hobby in literature now?

– Now I am interested in the books by Vasiliy Rozanov, “Solitary”, “People of the Moonlight”. In the last few weeks I have been keen on listening to his texts while I am driving. I am interested in this philosopher, this writer, his style of speech, his thoughts – very bold, very unusual. There is something to think about.

– What is required to start writing poetry?

– It’s a part of physiology. If you write poetry you simply cannot but write it. Then there is a matter of technique. A person should have a need to write poetry, one should breathe it. Poems are a way to breathe.

– What is the main difference between poems and songs? Or is it the same thing?

– The song has more rigid frames: a certain tempo and rhythm, a certain length of the sound. The songs discipline is stricter. In the song one has to present the main idea, the main emotion more concisely, to do it as brightly as possible and in fewer words. The poem can be more detailed. The song is like a small nuclear explosion.

By Anna Smirnova, correspondent, “Pedagogicheskie Vesti” newspaper.