poetry

100 PIECES by Vlado Bulić

In his Artist Statement Vlado Bulić asserts that for him literature should be a product of the author’s need to cope with the things around him which most often present themselves as problems causing frustration and frustration only. Bulić's book of poetry 100 Pieces (100 komada; published 2003) comes out of this frustration.
The poems in this volume allow to be read as true anecdotes about the daily existence of the individuals who do not have any perspective or objective in their lives.



 

Tomislav Kuzmanović:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF 100 PIECES BY VLADO BULIĆ

In his Artist Statement Vlado Bulić asserts that for him literature should be a product of the author’s need to cope with the things around him which most often present themselves as problems causing frustration and frustration only. Bulić's book of poetry 100 Pieces (100 komada; published 2003) comes out of this frustration. He writes about the individual, personal, and more general problems and frustrations that he and other members of his generation face in their everyday life in post-war Croatia.

The poems in this volume allow to be read as true anecdotes about the daily existence of the individuals who do not have any perspective or objective in their lives. Bulić confronts the individual, his needs, and desires with the needs and desires of abstract concepts such as state, nation, nationality, religion, love, art, literature, which all come with an already established set of rules that dictate the individual’s position in this world. These must be accepted. But the war cataclysm has changed the order of things and the individuals in this book of poetry without exception fall as victims of those abstract concepts. They are too weak, too disinterested, and most often too disappointed to try and change their position and this in turn effects every aspect of their lives be it love, art, or anything else. They fail in everything. The only exit lies in cynicism, nihilism, or escapism enhanced by narcotics, the media, and colorful world of capitalism which is conquering this part of the world with an extraordinary force. Bulić’s poetry mimics the post-war reality in Croatia by describing the attempts of the individuals to find their place within the society which, from the author’s cynic perspective, equals Sisyphus’ work and must fail over and over again. These people have taken a losers’ stand and lost any illusion or desire to redefine that position. They have matured too early thanks to the war and have been given the role of a national waste which cannot fit in.

The title of this book of poetry (100 komada, 100 Pieces) reveals its contents—exactly one hundred poems divided, following the example of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, into three chapters with thirty-three poems each plus the final 100th poem which closes the circle.

The epigraph on the first page of the book—“There are people, things, and diseases.”—suggests what each part of this book deals with. The first chapter talks about war and post-war period focusing on the relationship between the individual and the society which has, thanks to the war, been severely deformed and has thus become (Dante’s) inferno. The people in this inferno are the people around the author—war heroes who lost their fame, wannabes of all kinds doomed to failure, high school friends and classmates—most often junkies—who are already dead or about to die, street thugs who die in car accidents while working as ice-cream truck drivers, regular street people with nothing to say and nowhere to go, skinheads, drug dealers forced to push drugs because there is nothing else for them to do, politicians with their empty promises and lies, and anybody else scarred by war and left to heal their wounds in post-war Croatia.

The second chapter—equivalent to Purgatory—deals with things. The things in this book are works of art, artistic endeavors, most often writing and poems themselves. Engaging into writing poetry, or any other form of art for that matter, is meaningless because writing is not real work. There is no sweat and tears in it (unless one breaks the keyboard), it does not offer any answers or new directions, and most importantly is brings no money. Since it lacks all these things, why should one do it in the first place? Every young artist—poet, painter, film maker, etc.—should forget about what he or she is doing and open a bar. This is the only way for a young artist not to become an idiot and a loser. For the older generations of artists, it is already too late anyhow—their works as well as their spirits have already burnt in the eternal fire of artistic purgatory.

The final chapter brings the ultimate disease into paradise. The disease in this book is love, probably because there is no cure for it. When Bulić writes about love, his poems are almost love poems and they almost have a happy ending. Of course, there is no happy end, and this is not a paradise. All love relationships in this book—most often one night stands, blind dates, and failed or failing relationships—are sad, ugly, often violent, and purely physical. When there is any emotion in them, besides constantly present frustration, it is immediately rationalized, it is let to pass in a second to never come back again. People who love are terminally ill, frozen, barren and they can say “I love you!” only when they are high on something.

Finally there is the 100th poem which seems to talk about nothing. It repeats itself in the circle which cannot be broken and which is never round until the book finally runs out of paper. The message is clear: this nothing lies in the essence of every person, thing or disease in and beyond the covers of this book no matter whether they are Dalmatian, Croatian, American, or any other nationality.

 

 

 from

100 PIECES

 

 

001

  

I was five when

I asked my grandpa

what one person was worth,

he said:

“One person’s worth more than the whole world.”

and slapped me across the face

to make sure this stays

recorded

in my READ-ONLY memory

 

he did not read it in books

he simply knew it

 

and that is still recorded

in my READ-ONLY memory

which is enough for someone

to declare me                            a leftist

 

though I am sure grandpa had no idea

what this word meant.

 

But I am not angry with them, because he also said:

“There are all kinds of fools in this world. You have to be good with them too,

but don’t let them fuck around with you.”

 

 

 

002

  

in one of my villages (yes, I’m a hillbilly)

lives a knucklehead.

 

during the war he composed

folk-decasyllables

dedicated to president Tudjman[1].

that was then a popular hobby

in my homeland.

 

that, naturally, did not stop others

from considering him a knucklehead.

 

except for old Ivan who would say:

“True, he’s a knucklehead, but, by God, everything falls into place for him.”

he meant rhyme.

 

despite his ignorance of

the trends in contemporary poetry,

it cannot be denied that Ivan is

de facto an artist.

 

his peaches are always the fullest.

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

P.S.      my apologies to the people of Naklice

who don’t share my opinion regarding Ivan’s peaches.

I wrote it because of the punch line.

 

P.P.S.    my apologies to Ivan because of the apology to

the people of Naklice.

I wrote it so that

the punch line would not seem too cheesy.

 

 

 

 

003

  

a former

warrior, adventurer and a convict

Mate U.

won himself

a job

in a local butcher’s shop.

 

he slaughters                                                                             for coins

and always takes a bottle of brandy with him.

 

he takes a sip or two.

brings in a bull.

chains it,

to the right wall

and to the left wall.

fixes it with his eyes.

raises a steel hammer                                                                (the bull does not stand a chance)

and then hits it with all his might and main between                       the horns.

 

the bull kneels.

Mate hits it one more time.

the bull collapses.

 

Mate goes on:

“You”

TUP!

“ugly“

TUP!

“Chetnik”

TUP!

“motherfucker!”

TUP!

 

he wipes his sweat.

 

takes a knife.

takes another sip

and cuts the dead bull’s                                                 throat.

 

the blood gushes out

like water from a fire hose.

 

he takes the bottle.

sits down on the dead bull’s shoulder.

drinks

and watches the blood flow down the drains.

 

 

 

004

  

in this part of the world

septic tanks are not emptied

into tank trucks.

 

instead they dig holes in the ground

and pour quicksilver into them.

 

(fuck it, I saw this happen

in a village with a church and

Francetich’s[2] photo by the fridge.)

 

quicksilver makes its way to underground currents

and the shit dissolves on its own

 

and along the way fertilizes the soil

which will feed

some new

photos by the fridge.

 

they get killed with a smile on their face.

 

and return home in boxes,

with holes in their heads and their eyes poked out,

so that a horny local arms dealer

in his long white dress

can sprinkle them with water and recite:

 

  

 

“Earth you are,

and to Earth you shall return.”

 

  

Translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović



[1] Franjo Tudjman (1922 - 1999) – the former president of the Republic of Croatia; the founder of the modern Croatian state

[2] Jure Francetich – the founder of the first Ustasha Regiment (also known as Black Legion) in 1941.


 

panorama

An Interview with Bekim Sejranovic

Read Bekim Sejranović's thoughts on adventure, the flow of life and why Rijeka is why one of the most special places in the world to him.

panorama

Zagreb's Amazing Daughters

International Women’s Day offers the opportunity to reflect on amazing women that have made a lasting impression on the world. But recognizing the important ways women shape and impact our world shouldn’t be limited to one day out of the year. Check out some of Zagreb’s most memorable women in the link below.

panorama

Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

What’s the best way for an open-minded foreigner to get straight to the heart of another culture and get a feel for what makes people tick? Don’t just sample the local food and drink and see the major sights, perk up your ears and listen. There’s nothing that gives away the local flavor of a culture more than the common phrases people use, especially ones that have no direct translation.

Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

Just got out of a serious relationship and don't know what to do with all those keepsakes and mementos of your former loved one? The very popular and probably most unique museum in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to preserving keepsakes alongside the diverse stories of relationships gone wrong, will gladly take them. Find out how the museum got started and take an in-depth look at some of its quirkiest pieces in the link below.

panorama

The Lasting Impact of the 1980s on Zagreb

Find out how the 1980s, which saw the pinnacle of the domestic music scene, uncertain and rapidly changing political circumstances, and a more open and critical media, shaped the soul of modern-day Zagreb.

panorama

Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s relaxed, charming and pedestrian-friendly capital. Check out Time Out’s definitive Zagreb guide for a diverse set of options of what to explore in the city from unusual museums to legendary flea markets and everything in between.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in Split, the heart and soul of the city. Because of the palace, Split’s city center can be described as a living museum and it draws in the thousands of tourists that visit the city annually. But how much do we really know about the palace’s namesake who built it, the last ruler of a receding empire? Jonathan Bousfield contends that history only gives us a partial answer.

interview

The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield's Take on the Croatian Cultural Landscape in 2018

What could possibly tie together island musicals, political thrillers, 60s Yugoslavian culture, contemporary Croatian authors, graphic novels set amongst a backdrop of urban decay, Le Cobustier inspired architecture and a classic 20th century author’s firsthand account of 1920s Russia? Proving that he really does have his finger on the pulse of Croatian’s cultural scene, Jonathon Bousfield expounds on all of this and more in his 2018 Croatian Cultural Guide, check it out in the link below.

review

Jonathon Bousfield Reviews the English Translation of Krleža's Journey to Russia

Krleža, a giant of 20th century European literature, is woefully undertranslated into English. Read Jonathon Bousfield’s compelling review of the master Krleza’s part travelogue, part prose account of the time he spent in Russia as a young man in the mid-1920s, Journey to Russia, which is accessible to English readers for the first time.

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield on the Heyday of the Iconic Yugoslav Record Label, Jugoton

Jonathon Bousfield recounts the rise of Jugoton, the iconic Zagreb-based Yugoslavian record label that both brought Western music to Yugoslavia and later was at the forefront of the massive post-punk and new wave scenes in the region.

panorama

Mirogoj Cemetery: An Architectural Jewel

Going to a cemetery may not be the first idea that pops into your mind when visiting a new city. But the stunning Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, which was designed by the renowned Austrian architect, Herman Bolle, is definitely worth a bit of your time. Read more below to find out why.

panorama

You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

Dolac, the main city market, is a Zagreb institution. Selling all the fresh ingredients you need to whip up a fabulous dinner, from fruits and vegetables to fish, meat and homemade cheese and sausages, the sellers come from all over Croatia. Positioned right above the main square, the colorful market is a beacon of a simpler way of life and is just as bustling as it was a century ago.

panorama

Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

panorama

Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.

report

Hollywood and Dubrovnik

The medieval city in Croatia is having a geek-culture moment as the setting for King’s Landing in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”.
Hollywood seems to have discovered Dubrovnik. Parts of The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the Star Wars saga, also take place in the fortress town. Filming wrapped this year on a new Robin Hood film starring Taron Eagerton, Jamie Foxx, and Jamie Dornan (and produced by Leonard DiCaprio). The 25th James Bond film is reported to begin shooting in the city in January 2018.
But not everyone appreciates all the attention.

panorama

Great films shot in Zagreb

There's a surprising raft of indelible productions shot in and around Croatia's capital, like the world-dominating spy-caper 'James Bond: From Russia with Love' and Orson Welles' interpretation of Kafka's absurd, existentialist novel 'The Trial'...

report

A very rough guide to LitLink. The Author's View. By: Joanna Kavenna

Each night there is a bilingual Croatian-English event. Translations are projected behind the writers as they read. It becomes apparent that many contemporary Croatian writers are high ironists, forging dark comedy from aspects of life that most disturb them – war, corruption, the riotous hypocrisy of those who claim to govern us.
The tour runs from Zagreb to Pula to Rijeka...

panorama

Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.

panorama

Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.

panorama

Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

Authors' pages

Književna Republika Relations PRAVOnaPROFESIJU LitLink mk zg