Poetry
25. 12. 2019
Mirko Magarasevic

Here we are on the open sea

In a ritual as the bard spoke
The mirror of the sea in the eye of basalt
Luxurious beauty amongst the clouds
Takes off her clothes lit by the Sun
Gives back the cut with the eyes as sharp as obsidian
In the middle of the sea raised calmed
After all coastal sowings
After the harvests of love
After all challenges and enlightenments
The measure of the sea and the legends.

The Question of Guilt

The time came for ancient books to be paged with bloody stories
about the Achaeans who devastated Troy and smashed all the Tro-
jans
and were celebrated after that. But nobody talks about Troy any more.

Many Greek heroes were buried by ritual.
But what shall we do with the smashed Trojans?
What shall we do to make their souls rest in peace?
How shall we save our generations from the curse?

That was the question of a Greek hero while
washing his arms in blood to elbows
As if he boded and knew in advance
What was their doom on the open sea and back at home.

Nobody answered to this burial question
Being bewitched in plunder
No one but Casandra, nobody boded, nobody knew
That with this murderous sin his own punishment evoked.

Even today thirty centuries after
New murderers believe they credit have
And easily take off the chains of guilt –
By memoirs, statements, all these chatters of fall!

As if the thousands of those yesterday smashed
Are the same miserable shadows into oblivion pushed.

How Achilles Falls in Love
With Beautiful Penthesilea

Crossed swords rattling
And the battle took as a much time
As the invincible Achilles can see
How to apply all the skills
Just to be adored by the Greeks
To win one more time!

Omnipotence of an invulnerable warrior
Decides the victory over the virgin.
But at first, her warrior’s armour
All that haze and the skill
Makes Achilles a fool around
Who can’t see to whom death will bring.

When he fiercely assaults with sword
And all of a sudden the beauty slips in her hips,
So brim of her shield lower slips
And her uncovered neck became the target
For Achilles’ sword which cut down
This virginal life to the end!

Barely at that moment so amazed
With her brilliant face Achilles saw what he had done
And all of a sudden he is in love with her whom he killed
Now in front of his feet in death-rattle she falls down.
And Thersites watches Achilles from aside,
Curves his lips and to Achilles mocks.

Hector’s Dream

If there wasn’t such a bitter impelled fight
I’d walk jumping along floral Hisarlik
Instead with sword and bronze shield;
I’d walk the grass in a sandal light
Holding my little daughter by the hand,
Not to explain her the glory of the war,
Dazzling foam of prey, glance of plume helmet,
But to watch all colours of flower-bouquets instead,
Swallows and other birds to watch,
To open her through the green horizon
Wide enchantments by all the beauties of the world!

Mermaids’ Lure

Heroes’ thoughts breaking
By the strings of their voices
Everybody’s drunk, bewitched at once
Cut into the pieces by the sharp rocks.
Their throats spread trotting in heroes’ heads
They bubbled foam under the tongue
Their alluring song trembling voices made.

With screaming call-wave
They slink under the skin at once
With their whisper bones’ marrows boiled,
Their song dissolved the muscle tendons
Energy spent in never ending ecstasy
They stirred again unreachable foam
Lusts in whirlpool caught by a dream.

Translated by Ivana Milankov & M. Magarasevic

Poetry
25. 12. 2019
Jelica Šaula

Competition

I could feel that fast jump
like my soul had some spell
to reach that highest part of a stone
above fast river, above forest,
taking one enormous leap –
OH, WELL!

Shining Moon would come out soon.
I’ll be there on mountain’s top
reaching for that Moon’s shine up
with whole world asleep.
Who could deny the power
of such a leap?

If the whole world would
go mad right this instant –
who could make it strait again?
The Moon shine keeps persistent
thinking – it had a victory over the Sun.

Yet with strength of my soul’s spell
the Moon will be just like night’s snail
forever prisoner of night’s shell.
And very fast this all will get done.
Oh, look at me – big shiny ray of
a victorious steady winner “blinding”
the golden Sun!

Separating

We people in quiet
last travel of life
like faint sound
dry fallen leaves
all over the world
– but where the brains went?
It was quiet, so quiet
last travel – disappearing
watched from side –
insignificant.
Was it someone else’s
or was it my own hearing
my last pulse
diminishing?
Or was it the light
wind passing?
Where were sweet
dreams of mine
who moved in
inside my soul’s state?
My heart’s and
spirit’s dreams
who occupied,
have made home inside?
Oh, really who
dared, who had the guts
to make the mighty spirit
mad?

Enlighted darkness

Breath by breath up to arising forehead
Night after night, dark attracts
Rebelling time repeating itself while
Wind caught between clouds, in numbness
From there resurrected flocks – some
Of lost birds instantly flock still flew.

Oh, you gentle forehead tell us what happened
Were many downs resembling darkness
Inside deserted nights mislead happened
When lost ones end up in the Universe
Together with flock of some lost birds
Estranged, unknown to the stars.
From Earth’s smartness to heaven’s openness
Going many directions – fall into vegetations
To bitter Earth unto grass all wet
At some early hour deepening one’s head to
Persuade heart to be peacemaker of breath.
Wind was wind as before, the Universe’s windy pore.

… And now let words of song lead birds flock
Sent again into the Universe to hug of heaven
– heads of light, that enormous bright of
Flowers sprouting from “nothingness” and
All what we got now becoming new light,
Inside dark nights the Sun golden rays sprout.

Further, what brain was left let brain solve
What vegetation have consumed from other side.
Many times from sky and down on Earth again
Uplifted lighted treads done with ease
Not knowing why or where before was gone,
Except how it have tasted “nectar – lights”
drink easily done.

Moonlight fantasy

Night falls,
doorstep turns
into moonlight rug.

Open the door.
Step into silver
of midnight hour,
on wings of silence,
with aura of weightlessness
between dream and wake.
But don’t awake.

Glide ever so serene
toward stars and Moon.
Soul leading ahead
trough cosmic wasteland spread
(traveling 1. class)

You and Angel,
or some star,
gliding ahead.

Poetry
25. 12. 2019
Dubravka Matović

Cats Live to the Left

In the city you’ll understand
a cat’s walk on the rooftops.
With ease
from the chimney to the cherry tree.

Looking east
the left eye of my apartment
finds no sense in this.
Batman could do it
from the skyscraper over the parking lot
to the other skyscraper.
To the right eye it’s perfectly clear
how to get from the roof of the house
to the roof of the hut.

The left window
in constant hum.
The right one in countryside tranquility.
The left one – fumes from exhaust pipes,
the right one – smoke from the stove.

Looking from east to west
cats live to the left.

Transiency

I tied the tree
to the pole with scotch tape
I temporarily extended its life.

I can’t have breakfast.
I’m just tossing
“I could never do that”
aside.

Waterfall burbles along the boulevard.
How come it doesn’t deafen all the animals
flowing down to the highway?!

He’ll find a place to anchor his car.
He’ll go somewhere. He’ll do something. He’ll live.

An hour pouring into time.
Rush of everything through every possible exit.
Liberation is austerity.
If you don’t want to,
practice capitulation.

Anchor

When time catches me
standing at the traffic light
I have a thought about the world.
Lanterns are pretty in twilight.
Down at the end of the boulevard
a ship is anchored.
It’s not there.
Down there, before it, calm seas
colonized highway,
lights spreading out into the distance.

To be a swallow

In my eyes plane trees bloom,
Brodsky sailing in my purse,
scents flow through my nostrils.
All our people have gone somewhere
and here in the streets foreign languages celebrate May 1st,
which the Gypsies know very well:
they follow trams with trumpets
exchange joy for pocket change.

In the distance, while fountains hum
and flowers bloom in parks,
all my people in me are close,
as well as those that are not mine, but could have been.

Life guides me
past books, Gypsies and bugs,
it leads me to pass,
followed by the wind
and the scent of cotton candy.

Chestnuts bloom along the way,
outside of the city, grass lays down under the wind.
I am a kind-hearted driver
and I tread on the roads with tires.
With a look I build them monuments.
I see myself through the eyes of some future people
delighted by the freedom of our feelings
and the image of our world:

to follow the black locust scent,
of withered, cozy graveyards and gardens,
to walk down the road, passing by
stalls selling fruit,
to return, and leave again.
To be a swallow for a couple of days.

Translated by Vesna Stamenković

Poetry
25. 12. 2019
Dejan Djordjević

I awaken to love you

I awaken
To gaze into the blue
To spin in a dizzying circle
Where I lose myself
Perhaps?
I awaken
Because of promises
Which cannot be broken.
I awaken
Because of your footsteps
I hear them
I know you are coming
Because my palms
Are sweating
At the thought.
I awaken with a song, with your voice
Afraid that
I might put you to sleep
I awaken to love you.

Translated by Veronika Bauer

Be the bird

For Branko Miljkovic

With your own rocks and the black soil,
the pile will sing out before you.
Be the bird, and fly, all over the world.
There are many places, to ignite your fire.

Translated by Darko Kotevski

Should be believed

(From the collection I LOVE MARIA TOO)

I approach the wellspring,
I repent,
I say it outloud,
And leave the water to take it away.
I step out from the circle,
And I’m still inside of it.
They measured me up,
And marked me out like the land.
And the world will
One day disappear.

Translated by Darko Kotevski

Me, the poet and the hunter

Tomorrow burns in flames
In slippers we put the fire out:
Me, the poet and the hunter,
At service of humans and animals.
Fire is the essential part of life,
You could hear it after the disaster.
We had to go further:
To the forests,
To the clouds,
To the dream.

Translated by Darko Kotevski

Prose
25. 12. 2019
Mirko Palfi

The World of Canals

May 2019

“I grew up near the Danube, next to the good old river fishermen…”,
an old song that reminds me of home, and always evokes a sigh. An
extraordinary song that moves me like the waves of the Danube. It
is the best when performed by Gypsy tambourine players. I had the
pleasure to enjoy it few times by the Danube itself, at the Pikec Inn
in Bezdan, not far from my hometown of Sombor. The fish stew was
always freshly prepared in pot “kotlich” and served on the wooden
tables covered with checkered tablecloths, under the shade of trees,
looking over the magnificent Danube, surrounded by the intoxicating
scents of poplar, ash and willow, listening to the irresistible sounds of
violin and tambourine made by the graceful Gypsies… a scene deeply
embedded somewhere in my mind. I cannot say I grew up near the
Danube, as stated by the initial verse of the popular tambourine song,
since the Danube and I were separated by a distance of 18 km. I fre-
quently wanted to go there, but it could not easily be done. One could
take a bus, but I did not have anyone to go with, nor whom to visit, and
I often lacked money for such an adventure. Even though the Danube
was within arm’s reach, it often proved a large enough distance for the
then green and fearless boy from Sombor who barely managed to oc-
casionally get a bicycle to use. The Danube is a river that flows quickly
and was elusive to me, like an unfinished dream. The alternative was
the Great Backa Canal which runs slowly through the part of Sombor
where I grew up. I spent most of the hot summer days of my colour-
ful childhood on this peaceful and calm canal. If anyone had told me
back then that I would get to see a much wider, longer, and deeper
PANAMA CANAL, which connects two oceans, the Atlantic and the
Pacific, and through which many huge ships pass from one side to the
other in only 8-10 hours, I would have claimed it to be an unconceiv-
able and unreachable dream. But some dreams do come true for un-
known reasons and tend to unfold one way or another. Someone up
there takes a bit of care, shuffles some cards, and with ease sketches a
heavenly map for each one of us. And, when the time comes, we get to
see the new earthly roads that we can take if we are brave enough to
make the first step, and the new sights and horizons open up to us to
reveal new pictures ready to be put in the album called “Life”.
It was a two-hour drive by a tourist bus, from the resort in Panama
where I stayed, and we arrived at the main entrance, a ramp that con-
trols the entry of all vehicles to the port of the canal. Even though,
as an organized tourist group, we had a pre-set boarding time onto a
small passenger ship to take us around the major part of the canal, and
lower/raise us between two locks, we still had to wait an additional 45
minutes. Every day about 40-45 various size ships pass through the
Panama Canal, which is the shortcut between the two oceans and one
of the major maritime trade arteries of the world. The large cargo ships
with high-stacked containers, however, take precedence because they
bring in more money, way more than a small tourist ship. We had to
wait for such a large ship to pass through first.
Our bus was parked on a small street, near a park, only about hun-
dred or so meters away from the canal. The tropical climate, wet and
warm air was splashing the windows of our bus. Inside the bus, air
conditioning units cool off the tourists that came here trying to escape
the cold weather in which they live, hungry for the tropical climate.
No one wanted to exit the bus. Few minutes passed by and I no longer
wanted to sit inside that cold bus. I came out to take a walk and smell
the tropical air. All that I could see were few streets, low rise houses,
children playing in the background, a small convenience store that was
part of one of the houses, a fire station, tropical trees, and a park. It was
more than enough! It was an unusually peaceful and quiet area consid-
ering that the canal represents an oceanic shortcut for the flow of huge
quantities of goods from one continent to another. After walking for
half an hour, I looked for shade and a suitable place to sit while I wait
for our departure time to see the coastline of the canal and the place
of our embarkment. I noticed a wooden bench in the park, located be-
tween two large trees. I sat there, relaxed by the tropical climate and
delighted by the natural silence and birds’ chirping. I observed every-
thing surrounding me in the park. I was facing the canal as a huge
cargo ship was passing through, the reason we had to wait. Between
that ship and me, i.e. the place in the park where I was sitting, was a
considerably tall tree with a broad trunk that was partially blocking
my view of the canal as was the ship which was passing through it.
Something lured me to look a bit closer at this large and unusual tree.
There were a lot of fallen leaves and twigs around the tree. It looked like
there was a little hiding place from which you could take a very narrow
path, as wide as a human foot, which resembled a mini grassless track
and then extended all the way to another tree, about 20 meters away. I
was very intrigued by this; I was sitting on the bench while watching
the little hideaway under the tree. Then, I continued to follow that little
narrow path with my eyes to the other tree, that also had a similar
hideout under it. My curiosity ran high, and I had to get up and get
closer to inspect it further. With my mouth wide open and with a sense
of wonder, I witnessed a scene whose main actors were little ants. On
that narrow path, I noticed a very busy flow of traffic, column after
column of small ants all performing their duty. It looked like a high-
way for the little ant army that was busy hurryingly transporting their
cargo from one tree to the other. From the hideaway near the tree, like
on a factory assembly, ants were coming out one after the other, carry-
ing their cargo of little pieces of green leaf which seemed to flutter in
the air, and which was five times the size of the ant. They looked like
mini sailboats with bright green sails. They transported those small
pieces of leaves from one hideout to the next. In several columns, going
in one direction were the little ants with green leaves high above their
heads, and going in the opposite direction were the ants that already
unloaded their cargo at the other anthill and were going back to get the
new load. I’ve watched all this with great enthusiasm and wonder at the
same time! I briefly turned towards the bus where my fellow travelers
were sitting, some of them were sleeping, some were yawning, some
eating snacks, some were bored, some were staring at their phones,
meanwhile not even hundred meters away from them, on their left and
right, the two great transports were taking place. Transit on both water
and land. The harmony of the two worlds, the big and the small. In one
world a huge freight cargo ship was transporting through the Panama
Canal metal high-stacked containers, and in the other, so close to the
canal, the little ants were transporting pieces of green leaves from one
tree hideout to the next.
Having observed all of this, I was a witness to both worlds; to both
transports on contrasting scales, yet neither one of them was more
important than the other! That is when I remembered a writer from
Belgrade, Svetozar Vlajkovic, who is, in my opinion, one of the very
rare and outstanding writers from former Yugoslavia, who, through
his personal experiences, has found and then wrote down in one of his
many novels: “To observe and feel at the same time is one of the ways
to fully exist. For a person to exist, it is necessary to completely forget
about oneself.”
I sighed deeply. That unique scene was interrupted by the voice of
tourist guide from the bus. He called me to let me know that we are
ready to go to the canal. The ramp opened up and the bus came down
to the coast in a minute. Tired from boredom, half asleep tourists
became alive instantly and rushed towards the ship. I found a suitable
spot on the deck. I sat there completely serene. Slightly grey clouds and
a partial fog created an ideal picture in front of me. And the tiny and
dense tropical raindrops were perfect as if they were ordered just for
this very moment. It was as if I was looking through a crystal curtain
through which you could see the Panama Canal…

Translated by Nikol Markovic

Prose
25. 12. 2019
Pedja Ristić

Kovsh

(Excerpt from the novel)

St. Petersburg, October 1912.

THOUSAND PRIVILEGED INVITEES closely follow the rhythmic
swirls of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna on the
polished mosaic parquet of the Winter Palace Ballroom, in St. Petersburg.
‘Vlad, look at these huge chandeliers, like overturned mushrooms!
How many thousands of crystals sparkle in them?’ Natalia Rubayev-
na whispers into her husband’s ear, stooping slightly on the side line
of the busy dance floor. She is here, in this ball room of the Hermit-
age for the first time.
‘Yes, yes, my dear… thousands for sure… And on the stage, look,
the Mariinsky Ballet Orchestra, specially assembled for the occasion,’
reports Vladimir Sergeevich, pointing to a platform with lavish camel-
lia bouquets, surrounded by a canopy of thick brocade drapes.
A light waltz Я помню вальса звук прелестный 1) echoes. After
the first chords of the dance popular in halls all over Europe and, more
recently, in Petersburg, the imperial couple is joined by other digni-
taries. Counts and generals engage with their ladies in one whirl after
the other, all rank and tier. Decorations and medals shine and rattle
on starched uniforms. Silk ribbons flutter, garlanded flaps of festive
uniforms fly, lacquered shoes sparkle. The faces are serious, almost
frowning, as is proper for persons of such high rank, even if at such a
cheerful occasion. If their gaze traverses that of a superior officer or a
senior official of the court hierarchy, they whisper loudly: “Bonsoir!”
A mandatory, ever-so-slight but still detectable curtsy is hidden in the
gentle, waltz turn.
It is stylish to speak French. To subordinates they return a greeting
with an almost odious: Добри вечер 2) (in plain, almost vulgar Rus-
sian). A few waltzes later, and with numerous glasses of punch (and
more sips of водичкa 3) ) downed, their faces will relax, cheer up. They
will begin to think less about what they look like and whether their
sugar-tinged mustache is still neatly glued to their cheeks, and more
about what they would like to do to young women around them.
Wives in lavish toilets shaped by the virtuoso hands of Parisian
creators, glide on the parquet floor in three-fourths rhythm along their
partners. With each dance turn, they tilt their heads slightly to one side
and the other, observing which lady is wearing what kind of jewelry.
They display their status with diamond earrings, brilliant diamonds,
stunning bracelets and sensational necklaces. The intoxicating scents of
the most popular French perfumes made in Russia: the spicy “Krasnaya
Moscow” and the floral-woody “Bouquet de Catherine” blend in the
whirl. Summer waltzes alternate, flow from one to the other. Осенний
сон 4) follows after Отцвели уж давно хризантемы 5) . Sometimes, at the
end of a song, the generals stop and, with a deep, somewhat theatrical
inclination, exchange partners with neighboring dancers of the same
rank. At the beginning of the next track, their face is adorned with a
mysterious smile and a look directed vaguely towards the orchestra, the
emperor, or the surrounding players … That smile seems to say, “Here,
see what I can do! I abducted the Colonel’s woman.”
20-year-old Vladimir Sergeyevich joined the Imperial Cavalier-
Guard regiment (Кавалергардский полк) in 1867. Fifteen years later
he took the post of regimental aide-de-camp. Then he advanced to
become young emperor’s first assistant, who in 1894 parked himself
on the imperial throne. In 1902, Dyedov was promoted to the rank
of Major General and was appointed to the prestigious post of Com-
mander of the Imperial Cavalier-Guard Regiment.
VLADIMIR SERGEYEVICH DYEDOV does not dance. Due to
the pain in his back, he gets quickly tired of even watching dancers
on the floor, let alone joining them. Natalia Rubayevna knows this
and pities him, but chooses young adjutants and unmarried officers
to swirl with merrily in the cadence. She takes great care to be with
the dance partner in her husband’s sight at all times. Control is spon-
taneous and subtle, mutual. However, when the orchestra embarks on
the romantic Гори, гори, моя звезда 6) , she kindly asks young Nikita
Nikolaevich Samolyukov with whom she has just danced, to escort her
to her husband, just a few steps away. She will try to persuade him for
at least one dancing hug to her favorite tune. Nikita Nikolaevich is, of
recent, the general’s adjutant, a newcomer to the affairs of the court,
the Guard and the aristocracy of Petrograd. Surely, he will not mind
that I want to dance with my husband.
General Dyedov, of course, accepts Natalia’s request. How could I
resist that endearing look and smile? He hands over his champagne glass
to the young assistant and wobbles to the parquet to sway through a few
awkward and rigid circles with his exuberant wife. Nikita stands buried
in the place where he handed over his dancing partner and waits for
the old man to return after a few moments, with a barely visible trace of
pain on his face. General won’t complain, just wipe away tiny traces of
sweat from his shaved head with a silky, perfumed handkerchief.
Natalia and Nikita know that Vladimir Sergeyevich is hurting but
all three pretend everything is okay and continue to track the playful
couples in front of them. A waiter brings new glasses of iced cham-
pagne, and the best orchestra in the empire is conquering the hall with
new popular tunes of increasingly fast rhythm.
‘Let’s get to the serving table before the crowd rolls in!’ Dyedov
suggests and turns around, followed by the woman and his assistant.
After the lively Дай, милый друг, на счастье руку 7) comes a quick and
agile song Ухарь-купец 8) . Almost a thousand cheerful guests, includ-
ing the Emperor and Empress somewhere in the middle of the crowd,
sing along the familiar, favorite song and hop around in the ballroom.
Gastronomy is displayed in the adjacent hall. Beside a long table,
covered with a glittering damask linen sheet, stands a thin, sultry
priest. His filthy and completely wrinkled, coal-black mantle is strik-
ing. He pays no attention to music and merriment and ignores the
help offered by servants. He clumsily stuffs profuse amounts of cold
pheasant pâté and goose liver soufflé into his porcelain plate. Greasy,
gray hair down to his shoulders, his frowzy beard reaches to his chest.
A thick gold chain hangs around his neck with a large, wooden cross
resting on his stomach. The monk’s appearance strikingly contrasts
the luxury and beauty of the playful court guests on the dance floor.
For long, Nikita can not peel his eyes off the odd figure.
It’s the first time he’s at a ball, at an aristocratic gathering whatso-
ever, and everything here amazes him. Dresses, epaulets, hairstyles,
jewelry, perfumes and gowns, many famous and more unknown
dignitaries, including of course Emperor Nicholas II himself and
Empress Alexandra. The dark clergyman is the exact opposite of the
whole setting, so the young officer thinks that it may be an intruder, a
bum that is here by mistake, or by some evil intent. How come no one
noticed him, prevented him from entering? Who is he and what is he
looking for here, among all this beauty?
Natalia noticed him also. She has ogled all thousand invitees and
will quiz tomorrow, over tea, all her friends about details: who wore
what kind of dress and jewelry, and who got on with whom. With gentle
disgust, she observes the monk, who lays down his stuffed plate aside,
toward the wall. She knows him well and is aware of how come he is here.
Dyedov acts as if he didn’t notice the priest, but he also sees him
from the corner of his eye, and he knows him well, personally. He sees
the astonished expression and stiff movement of his young aide. With
a gentle movement of his elbow, he pushes Nikita to take his eyes off
the black figure and to move toward the food.
Not far from the corner where the black monk is standing there
are a dozen long tables set with mounts of delicious food. There are
also larger, sitting tables nearby. The Imperial family traditionally
holds French chefs on the court and for such occasions the guests are
offered top entrées, dishes and deserts. The serving plates are packed
with specialties such as horseradish pork, fattened roosters, piroshky,
long-nose sturgeon in champagne … The guests are expected to storm
these tables as the first part of the dancing evening draws to a close.
Some hungry dancers are already scouting, lines are beginning to form.
Elegant guests carry their plates and silverware, while helpful waiters
explain what each bowl contains and help with serving and pouring.
Having put in a plate what will quench first hunger, guests find a place
to sit and eat. For the slightly less formal occasion tonight, places are not
marked, so anyone can sit without protocol wherever they want, even
_________________________
1) “I remember the lovely sound of waltz” – a popular ballroom piece; begin-
ning of the XX on the Russian court
2) “Good evening” – in Russian
3) “vodka” – in Russian
4) “Autumn dream” – popular song of the period
5) “The long-gone chrysanthemums” – popular song of the period
6) “Burn, burn my star” – popular song of the period
7) “Shake hands, dear friend, for good luck” – popular song of the period
8) “The Happy-go-lucky Merchant”– popular song of the period

Esey
24. 12. 2019
Milo Lompar

Odyssey’s Bitterness?

Even though primarily a poet, Mirko Magarasevic is renowned as an
essayist, anthologist, translator, and travel writer in Serbian literature.
As an essayist he combined a sense for analysis of literary works, disin-
tegration into elements of the poetic structure, with contextualisation
of poetic meaning in the broader systems of the language, history, cul-
ture and tradition. Tradition – in his perspective – is composed of facts
of both Serbian and European literary experience. Hence, Magarasevic
analytically, culturally and historically illuminated many works of
Serbian poetry, from Classicism and Romanticism until contempor-
ary Serbian poets. In the tradition of European poetry, he directed his
attention to Anglo-Saxon poets: with particular interest to Ezra Pound.
As a translator, he extended his essayistic concentration and put in
special effort into translation of Pound’s works. As an anthologist, he
came out long ago: in nearly every issue of the influential Belgrade’s
magazine Savremenik, from the late seventies of the XX century, in the
column “The Anthology poem” we could have read knowingly select-
ed verses of Serbian poets from different epochs, of different poetics
and character, from Sterija (Tombstone to me by myself ) and Sarajlija
(Debauchery), Laza Kostić (That face of yours), until contemporary
poets like Milan Komnenić (Who are you, Who are you). His every
selection was followed by the inventive critical review of the poems
themselves. As a travel writer, Magаrasevic in a new and interesting
way illuminated spaces of the Mediterranean, especially Greece and
Turkey, by combining cultural and historical knowledge and literary
evoking of spaces, people, customs and habits, into storytelling that
represents true value of our travelogue. He confirmed the accurateness
of Slobodan Jovanović’s thought: “It is not hard to describe what one
sees but it is hard to see what is worth of describing.” Magarasevic can
actually see and describe all that is worth of readers’ experience.
This many-sidedness of our poet has its place also in his poetry.
The ability to be aware of things in disorderly but not in orderly array,
as a feature of travelogue storytelling, represents a visible quality of his
poetic perception, as if it is flowing out of it. Profound knowledge of
Serbian and European poetry, convincingly presented in his work as
an anthologist, has its place in poet’s choice of diction and tone with
which he chooses to speak in his own poetical creations. Essayistic
concentration reveals reflexive character of poet’s verses as his logical
inner choice, as one kind of poetical kinship by choice; powerful critic-
al impulse, shown particularly in revealing Serbian critical poetry, has
its place in poet’s verses that touch poet’s present moment, express his
ethical attitude and determine additional character of poetical actual-
ization. This visibly corresponds to – a more recent – political essays
from the book Čija je istina? (Whose Holds the Truth) and the book of
poetry Ode i pokude (Odes and Reprimands).
All these features occur conjoint in dominant poetical dimension
of the latest poetry book Mermaids’ Song: in culture-historical and re-
flexive dimension of verses of our poet. By deciding that this dimen-
sion be poetical and poetic center of his poetry book, Magarasevic
demonstrated again his affection towards poetical line that – in the
second half of the XX century – manifested Miodrag Pavlović and
Jovan Hristić as historical basis of the verses that acquires originality
and value of poetic expression only in manifold process: by identify-
ing with the poetic situation that educes, by evoking of its intensity
within new articulation, and by inscribing of inventive solution into
a basis that fulfilled reader’s spirit. Only those three moments secure
poetic reach in poetical creation conceived in this way.
In the poetic basis of the poetry book Mermaids’ Song we find
odysseyian theme as one of the most complex and the most demand-
ing themes of European poetry. Sole wanderings, separation from
the land, swinging on the water and swaying on the wind, miracu-
lous world of encounters and dangers that mark unknown moments
of human understanding of oneself and of the world, as newly dis-
covered forms of the birth of independent spirit within an individ-
ual, that gradually separates itself from the collective, represent im-
portant meaning of Odyssey’s topos in European literature: all until
Joyce’s Ulysses. As a poet of distinctive poetic and culture-historical
awareness, Magarasevic shapes different moments of odysseyian com-
plex of meanings so that he could give his own artistic redaction.
When the poetic basis is layered with contents of European experi-
ence, individual articulation must fulfill basic situation. How can we
recognize it in this poetic experience? Surely it is necessary to create
– as in the third of the beginning poems – Mediterranean poetic land-
scape. The warmth and glow of the scene, “the mirror of the sea in the
eyes of basalt,” mixes with the conscious about the poet, “in a ritual
as the bard spoke,” to be a sign of a virtual reality, confirmed by the
concluding point: “the measure of the sea and the legends”. The bond
of the sea, as a nature, as a call for traveling, and the tradition, as Odys-
sey as the one who roams around it, marks seemingly calm and un-
blurred background on which a strange difficultness of consciousness
can barely be seen – or it is just a mirage. It seems to us that it is the
true center of poetic experience, although all affection – as always –
Odyssey’s figure takes away, who hears and knows it all, even the Siren
song and resists it.
In these poems there are remarkably evoked literary reminiscen-
ces. In accordance with humanistic motives – like gentleness and good-
ness of the father – that fulfil his character, Hector’s relationship with
his daughter is described while antique tradition knows only for his
relationship with his son Astyanax, or Laodaman and Laomedon.
But, the sole sublimeness and goodness of the greatest Trojan hero has
poetic point in the experience of the “beauty of the world.” For, the
great Hector of the flashing helmet, the pillar of the state and its last
sword, carries within his soul a quite ordinary dream: “Sparrows and
other birds to watch / to open her a horizon of green / width with the
inchantations by all the beauties of the world”. Thus, Hector is being
poetically marked as a wish for one yes that is addressed to a quiet and
hidden existence. In a stylization like this there is an indirect paral-
lel with Odyssey: as unexpected closeness by choice. Just as Odyssey –
in Plato – chose new life in a form of an inconspicuous and quiet man,
Hector dreams “but to watch all colours of flower-bouquets instead
/ playful to pick them in spring time.” Hence, Hector in his dream
experience of the world is in the place where Odyssey – through the
winding roads of his travels, as levels of individuation – barges. There-
fore, Hector’s dream and Odyssey’s late reality coincides because they
both touch deeper existential truth than the heroic one: that indirectly
indicates that poetic situation is crystalized in a distant and by a reflec-
tion guided spirit of our poet. For, hidden and suggested coincidence
seems like a trace of individual redaction within one proven tradition-
al continuity.
There is no doubt that a layered erotic disposition of a Siren song
is presented. That is how Achilles’s enamor for Penthesilea is being
shaped: in a moment when he is killing her. This famous motive of
antique tradition that in the art of literature and the art of painting
had many actualizations, it was even the central motive of Kleist’s play,
implies many associative and allusive circles in which core is the knot
of death and love, and our poet gives it a distortional resonance in
Thersites’s laughter: “And Thersites watches Achilles from aside, /
curves his lips and Achilles mocks.” In an emphatically pathetic scene
of recognition of mortal love occurs ‘depathetisation’ that came from
modern distrust. For, Thersites is an epilogue of this uncondition-
al erotic exaltation, the late one, just as Achilles’s heroic grandness
became late. But our poet has turned all his attention to a moment
of Thersites’s mocking, not to a consequence of that mocking: famous
Achilles’s fury that brings death to a hunchbacked, bandy-legged with
a lame foot but also smart and mean soldier of the Hellenic army. In
the poetic focus, hence, is mocking – the feast of forces of late times,
untouched by the force of deep and later discovered passion.
But in our poet’s stylization, Thersites’s appearance is not deprived
of indirect ties with Odyssey. Because Odyssey closed Thersites’s mouth
open in protestation in the Trojan War: Thersites is therefore possible
as a mockery, as a ludicrous echo of the impossible (heroic, gigantic)
love, but he is not possible as a protest. While Odyssey is close: this in-
direct tie naturally complies with antique tradition according to which
Thersites’s shadow – in the reign of the dead – chooses the company
of Odyssey’s mortal enemies. Lit up in a moment when he is mocking
Achilles, Thersites remains annunciated in his hidden dispute with
Odyssey also. That shows that in the book Mermaids’ Song there is a

Esey
24. 12. 2019
Radojka Vukčević

The Reception of John Updike’s Couples in Serbia and Montenegro

The paper aims to provide an introduction to the study of the recep-
tion of John Updike’s Couples in Serbia and Montenegro. This novel is
still alive and continues to evolve into new works and shapes–therein
lies much of its challenge and fascination. The “afterlife” of Updike’s
Couples will be studied on the basis of the works of Hans-Georg Gad-
amer, and H. R. Jauss: Gadamer’s (2004) theory that the meaning of a
text is constructed by a fusion of horizons between the present and the
past, and Jauss’ (1982) esthetics of reception which explored the inter-
action of the creator of the new work and its audience. An overview
of the changing contexts for publishing John Updike’s Couples, and
reactions to it notes a strong response by Serbian scholars and a rather
modest reception of his works in Montenegro. This provides a vital
contextual setting for discussing the textual reception of not only this
novel, but also of the American literature in Serbia and Montenegro.

Key words: reception, Updike, Couples, Serbia, Montenegro
Being a part of the comparative studies of literature, the research of
reception has a long global tradition, which is also present in Serbia
and Montenegro. Svetozar Ignjačević pointed out two decades ago that
“our literature” belongs “to the circle of the so called small cultures…
[That is] ready to accept and absorb the achievements of world litera-
ture and to react to them, sometimes with some delay, but always with
specific, autonomous and developed critical awareness.” (Ignjačević
1997: 299) He adds that receptions of foreign literatures in our culture
are mostly studied at universities (M.A. and Ph. D thesis). This does
not mean that there is not more space for further research even though
much has been defined, and “it seems that only some empty spaces are
left to be filled from time to time, and along the way, some innovations
and possible reevaluations are expected in accordance with the latest
critical theories.” (299)
However, the latest critical approaches concerning the reception
of Couples in Serbia and Montenegro are of no great help. Despite the
lack of critical approaches, Gadamer’s (2004) theory of reception, which
claims that the meaning of a text is constructed by a fusion of horizons
between the present and the past, and Jauss’ (1982) esthetics of recep-
tion, which explored the interaction of the creator of the new work and
its audience, will provide a sufficient foundation for this exploration.
It has become evident that readers have a new role, which inspired
one of our scholars, Aleksandar Jerkov, to define the relationship be-
tween the work and the reader in this way: “Reception is a passion-
ate need of the text for the reader (as) the text invites and implicates a
reader, it does not exist autonomously regardless of the consciousness
of a reader”. (Jerkov 1992: 202) It is obvious that there is a dynamic
relationship between a text and a reader. The reader is asked to be open
to the different aspects of the work and “to possess an active and cre-
ative attitude.” (202) Apart from the readers, literary historians should
possess this attitude, as seen by Jauss, since they are the ones who have
to play the role of the interpreters of the past from today’s point of view.
He points out the role of the horizon of expectations which is formed
on the basis of the previous understandings of forms and genres, and
the polarities of poetic and practical language. (Jauss 1978: 60) Its es-
thetic value is defined depending on this horizon: it enables defining of
the artistic value of the work of art based on its impact on the supposed
audience. Jauss supports Gadamer’s belief that during the process of
reading the horizons of an author and an interpreter, former and cur-
rent, melt together. In this manner the historical distance between the
past and present is overcome. The advantage of hindsight allows for
our potential interactions with all the previous interpretations in addi-
tion to our own. Our scholar of great distinction Petar Milosavljević
points out the importance of breaking the previous balance in order to
study scientific facts through a new lens and thus be able to strive for
a new balance. (Milosavljević 1991: 553) We have to take into account
both the context and the time when the text was created as well as
the time that the reader lives in, and that is why the interpretation of
one work is taken as an encounter of time horizons between an author
and a reader. Further, Jauss agrees with Gadamer that it is necessary
to understand the question a text raises and answers, but contradicts
Gadamer in the notion that every reader can be an interpreter. Jauss
claims that a reader evaluates a text which becomes a part of tradition
after it has been accepted. It has to be defined according to its historical
position and meaning. (Jauss 1978: 356)

Serbia and American Literature in XIX and XX century
Serbia is a country that used to be an independent state, which became
a part of the great Ottoman Empire before becoming a part of the
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians in 1918, and then Yugo-
slavia in 1941. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Serbia became a
part of the state of Serbia and Montenegro, and finally an independent
state in 2006. Throughout almost all the later periods of the XIX and
XX centuries (tsarist, communist and democratic periods), American
literature, its TV, and theatrical dramas were widely received. Thus,
Emil Sîrbulescu in his dissertation “Reception of American Literature
in the Balkans” informs us that significant American playwrights, pro-
ducers, directors, and their TV dramas and theatre adaptations had an
outstanding reception in Serbia. Specifically, it was Saul Bellow who
was translated and best received in the Balkans, according to Sîrbu-
lescu’s research. He also discovered that much criticism both posi-
tive and negative came from celebrated critics such as Rade Vojvodic,
Zoran Gluščević and Jara Ribnikar. (Sîrbulescu 2016: http://www.ucv.ro)
Our research confirms Svetozar Ignjačević’s statement that,
throughout its history, Serbia has been more than a thankful recipient
of American literature, and it reacted to it mostly without any delay,
but with specific, autonomous and developed critical awareness. This
is confirmed by Zoran Konstatinović’s study Comparative Perspectives
on Serbian Literature, more specifically in the chapter of his outstand-
ing book “Foreign Writers in Our Culture”. (Konstatinović 1993: 62-
125) He points out that it was in the 1960s that the reception of Amer-
ican literature in the Serbo-Croat speaking areas started to be studied
at our (Yugoslav) universities. The choice of the writers was made ac-
cording to their popularity in their culture and others, and the strong
influence they had over a certain period of time. From Sonja Bašić’s
dissertation “Edgar Allan Poe in Croat and Serbian Culture”, Konstat-
inović discovers that enthusiastic reception of Edgar Allan Poe began
with the 1863 translation of his short story “Black Cat”. Poe’s later re-
ception included not only translations but also critical texts written by
the most respectable critics from former Yugoslavia: Milorad Šapčanin,
Matoš, Svetislav Stefanović , Bogdan Popović, Vinaver, Goran Kovačić,
Isidora Sekulić, Slamnig and Šoljan (Sasa Simovic with her doctoral
dissertation on Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe will join them in 2013) .
The reception of American literature continued into the 1970s when
Ljiljana Babić writes about Walt Whitman in Yugoslavia (Acta Neo-
philologica, Ljubljana, IX, 1976), while Dunja Detoni-Dujmić research-
es the reception of English and American poetry of XX century. Ileana
Ćosić focuses her dissertation on the presence of American drama
in Belgrade in the period from 1920 to 1970, at Belgrade University.
Her findings show that the best received authors were Arthur Miller,
Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill. Ljiljana Kontić continues the
research into American drama in Belgrade in the period from from
1970 to 1980. The American novel reaches a great popularity in former
Yugoslavia in the period between the two WWs. It is the social novel
which is studied in the doctoral dissertation of Omer Hadžiselimović:
“Serbo-Croat criticism of the American social novel, from 1918 to 1941”
(Sarajevo, Filozofski fakultet, 1978).
The research of the modernist tendency in American literature
(Hemingway, Faulkner) began only after the WW2, that is, from the
1950s, and we learn a lot about this from Gvozdan Eror’s study: Faulk-
ner in our literary criticism (Eror 1975: 709-766). Zoran Konstatinović,
the previously mentioned author, gives a special credit to Zoran Gav-
rilović’s dissertation “Insights: American and Yugoslav understand-
ings of Literature Between the two WWs” (Uočavanja. Američka i
jugoslovenska misao o književnosti između dva rata) because this re-
search connects American and Yugoslav literature of this period on
the basis of typological analogies.
The interest in American literature has intensified during the last
three decades thanks to the research (Svetozar Ignjačević, Tihom-
ir Vučković, Mirko Magarašević, Vera M. Savić) and translations by
Serbian respectable translators (most notably: Aleksandar Petrović;

Esey
24. 12. 2019
Mira Svonja

Jelica Saula: all geographies of one soul

To take the five officially published books by Serbian-Canadian poet
Jelica Saula, born Adamovic (1939), to read them again, to absorb all
contents again, then deal with them within an essay … is not easy and
it is a difficult plan to achieve. Especially if the essayist knows Jelica,
although not personally, knows her by letters, phone calls…When
someone knows the writer closely, there is a danger the essayist could
become biased, more personal. However, the power of Jelica’s poetry,
the power of words, goes far beyond that personal approach. The in-
credible refinement of Jelica’s sophisticated observations and reflec-
tions of her soul of what is being observed, thought, felt, experienced
… in one interesting but quiet life, and on two continents. The extra-
ordinarily powerful contents of these books do not allow dealing with
anything personal but metaphysical and universal in timeless coordin-
ates of the sense-mind-soul-spiritual code if the reader has a thinking
mind. Every person has that code. Someone understands and listens to
it and is guided by it, while someone else is yet to discover it…
The two continents of Jelica’s curriculum vitae begin on the right
side of the globe, in the beautiful flat land Srem, in Serbia, in Europe.
The first Adamovic family idyllic nest and Srem as subframe of the
Besenovacki Prnjavor village, which houses the oldest Fruška Gora
monastery, has had such a large and tumultuous history that even
some serious countries cannot “boast” about it. World War II was the
culmination of historically great tribulations throughout this country-
side. Adamovic’s second nest was formed at small town Ruma, the
geographical heart of Srem. Even before and after the war, the quiet,
pious parents, despite their humble lives, gave the world four daughters
and two sons. Jelica was somewhat different from the other children
with a certain reticence in her quiet thoughts, always writing down
something, or drawing her perceptual and emotional “pictures of the
world” in and around her. Her life led to art studies at the Belgrade
Pedagogical Academy. Also, the same life unfortunately demanded
that these studies come to an end by a steady job in one of the largest
transport companies at Ruma. But that same life lead her older broth-
er, one of her sisters, and also Jelica when she was 32 years old – to
the other, left side of the world map, across the Atlantic, to beautiful
Canada, Ontario, Hamilton.
During her formal involvement in a completely new system of life
and work, Jelica met her life partner Boris Saula. They started with
great matrimonial efforts to build their future. Two similar lives and
almost identical souls lasted together for 37 years. But, as life some-
times can bring misfortune – instead to live their beautiful love –Boris’s
long-lasting and severe leukemia with rare improvements had made
their lives filled with dealing with hospitals, doctors, difficult therapies
instead of starting a family. His condition had rare and brief improve-
ments, which were short breaks from their harsh realities …All those
years, Jelica angelically watched over her husband the way only Serb-
ian women can. But after over twenty years of this struggle, they both
painfully lost the war for life. So, in the sad year of 2007 Boris left, Jelica
stayed. From then until today, Jelica is still on two continents with all
her being, much more in Canada, understandably … and much less
in their Serbia, Srem, Ruma, also understandably. Jelica’s book “Pulse
Leap” – NEA Publishing, Toronto (2008) is a dedication to this magnifi-
cent love, devotion in good and evil… until death breaks them apart.
For all these streams of life on the two continents, except when she
was too small for school, when Jelica could not read, write and paint/
draw, her inseparably loyal companions were – pen and paper. They
were the “guardians of fire” of a perceptive, emotional, spiritual and
soulful life in a myriad of verses, mostly thought-provoking, reflexive
poetry. Although extraordinary also as a prose writer, Jelica prefers to
write poems that are not always in rhyme, although rhymes are not
necessary for a poem to be called a poem. Also, many inspirations in
her creative life have been marked with drawings, paintings, collages
… There are many fine drawings, artfully inspired impressions so un-
usual and innumerable, either finished or not. They are almost equal
in number to her poems. Many solo, group, thematic, etc. exhibitions
are some of the proofs of her artistic talent.
Jelica’s books are almost always beautified by her metaphysical
drawings, which can lead a more sensitive reader through some other
journeys “from inside”, in addition to those poems. Also, her imagin-
ation was able to enrich some poems with a non-classical form. She
“rhombuses” or “triangles” them, so the poems are in the form of
proper rhombuses and triangles, or make them differently visual by
starting each line in the poem with the same letter. This has rarely been
one of the other poets’ skills, but in Jelica’s case it entices the reader
to experience this impression of poem, and also audio if one “listens“
to it – follows the rhythm of the verses leading from voice to whisper.
There are several examples in the book “Conversations with silence/
Starry eyed soul”, “Bjelic” doo, 2017., Ruma, half of the book is in Eng-
lish language.
Both of Jelica’s works are, in a picturesque way, described – a
silk-knitting of the deepest and finest “weaving” in one’s soul about
what would the great Serbian poet Laza Kostic called “’tween wake-
fulness and the dream”. Each of us often have that sense in our soul/
mind. But while Laza’s “dreaming-knitter“ is dedicated to his heart,
and God granted all of us others, even ordinary ones with it, can rec-
ognize ourselves in it… so far as Laza’s (only) heart was described, in
Jelica’s poetry everything inside and around the individual – is core,
whether far, near, or beautiful, or not-beautiful, or cheerful, or sad …
Whether it be God, the Sun, the Moon, night, day, colors, rain, snow,
tree, leaf, wind, birds, pigeons, children, women, people – red, black,

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Рубрике

ДОНАЦИЈЕ

Претплатите се и дарујте независни часописи Људи говоре, да бисмо трајали заједно

даље

Људи говоре је српски загранични часопис за књижевност и културу који излази у Торонту од 2008.године. Поред књижевности и уметности, бави се свим областима које чине културу српског народа.

У часопису је петнаестак рубрика и свака почиње са по једном репродукцијом слика уметника о коме се пише у том броју. Излази 4 пута годишње на 150 страна, а некада и као двоброј на 300 страна.

Циљ му је да повеже српске писце и читаоце ма где они живели. Његова основна уређивачка начела су: естетско, етичко и духовно јединство.

Уредништво

Мило Ломпар
главни и одговорни уредник
(Београд, Србија)

Радомир Батуран
уредник српске секције и дијаспоре
(Торонто, Канада)

Владимир Димитријевић
оперативни уредник за матичне земље
(Чачак, Србија)

Никол Марковић
уредник енглеске секције и секретар Уредништва
(Торонто, Канада)

Уредници рубрика

Александар Петровић
Београд, Србија

Небојша Радић
Кембриџ, Енглеска

Жељко Продановић
Окланд, Нови Зеланд

Џонатан Лок Харт
Торонто, Канада

Жељко Родић
Оквил, Канада

Милорад Преловић
Торонто, Канада

Никола Глигоревић
Торонто, Канада

Лектори

Душица Ивановић
Торонто

Сања Крстоношић
Торонто

Александра Крстовић
Торонто

Графички дизајн

Антоније Батуран
Лондон

Технички уредник

Радмило Вишњевац
Торонто

Издавач

Часопис "Људи говоре"
The Journal "People Say"

477 Milverton Blvd.
Toronto ON,
M4C 1X4 Canada

Маркетинг

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Торонто, Канада maya.prelic@hotmail.com

Контакт

Никол Марковић, секретар
т: 416 823 8121


Радомир Батуран, oперативни уредник
т: 416 558 0587


477 Milverton Blvd. Toronto,
On. M4C 1X4, Canada

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