poetry

Branko Čegec: Advertisement For Death

Branko Čegec was born in Kraljev vrh in 1957. He is a poet, a critic, an essayist and a fiction writer who graduated from the Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy in Croatian Studies and Comparative Literature. He has been editor-in-chief of many newspapers and cultural magazines. His poetry has been included in various reviews and anthologies in Croatia and abroad and translated into English, German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Ukranian, Macedonian, Polish, Ruthenian, Hungarian and Lithuanian. His books include: Eros-Europe-Arafat (1980), West-East Sex (1983), The Makeover of the Avantgarde (1983), A Melancholy Chronicle (1988), The Screens of Emptiness (1992 and 2001), The Freedom Phantom (1994).



 

SEESAW

 

again no-good is so good!

plum-brandy is in the blood,

snow in the nose,

flora in the lungs.

soft-boiled for breakfast,

hard-boiled for supper.

sex and food come

at the end, the beginning, and in-between.

sex kills business hours,

food other sports..

I don't want to go to heaven

for I know nobody there,

if heavens is what they talk about.

requiem for healthy food,

the repose of virtue,

the long litany for safe sex.

you have never

really quit smoking.

you're thirsty without wine,

hungry without pornography.

where does good end and no-good start?

you look at the covered: what do you see?

you look at the uncovered: what do you see?

the covered reveals,

the uncovered conceals,

no-good is good,

good is no-good:

it's slippery on a seesaw.

 

                                      

 

LANGUAGE

 

should one wake up young men

and head for the tunnel?

they are so laid-back,

eager to dodge any resistance.

guitars are much better,

dancers too above the plains.

adrenaline no longer lives at great heights:

it descended into scrotums,

hormonal refuge,

from there directions

and semantics to be cut out.

words that stay in the game,

young words from times immemorial,

those that bore meaning

and then not.

now their sprays sketch names

and pathos on walls

around galata and everywhere else.

the most beautiful language

is the one you do not understand.

there lies the truth and the future.

between the message and the meaning

nobody succeeds in raising a bridge.

the bridges over bosporus

resist symbols.

surgery is on the other side.

you excise something, add something.

bypass is of itself.

you stop,

buy a boat, and

go fishing.

             

 

POPULISM

 

bureaucracy is the mother.

do you know who the father is?

caterpillars count statistics:

there's shortage of numbers

you used to mask war mysteries

and the drudgery of mental institutions:

the healthy are sick, the sick, healthy:

turn her around, twist her

for lindjo dance and for mogadishu:

the black princess comes down

and opens her dress.

guests and visitors are on their way out.

the immense crowd starts to chant:

how much of this? how much beyond sight?

you hennaed your little belly hair

and laughed at vulgarities,

laughed hysterically

at the pack of dogs.

they howled, kept jumping over corpses:

one is a sheep-dog, the other a werewolf.

the pack is hungry,

the pack is thirsty,

attacks the blood flow,

spreads out the front-line

along the railroad track, then toward the marble.

do you know who could bring that to a halt?

do you know who the father is, the narrator, the falsifier?

the mother is the father.

mother.

father.

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT FOR DEATH

 

a huge wind swooped down from bulgaria,

bringing nearness that made

the whole suburb go down.

everyone's mind was reeling,

the picture and the sound came off and on,

and tonight a man

simply collapsed

and died in the middle of istiklal.

people gathered,

gave a piece of advice,

one tried to resuscitate him,

another to open his clenched fist:

to no avail!

to no avail!

two police cars arrived,

the ambulance and a passing khojah.

some took photos;

you can't photograph death!

I muttered to myself

in croatian,

convinced no one would understand

that cheap provocation.

the wind lifted cardboard boxes

hurling them toward taksim.

a group of street players played frantically,

without stopping, as if running from something,

fifty meters away they were from the dead body

that was being wrapped in a black bag,

the way the police usually do that.

no, no, not a single initial movement ceased!

no, no, no one stopped advertising durum and roast chestnuts!

the sirens merged with the sounds of other sirens!

ten minutes later at the very same spot

barefoot boys playing traditional instruments

were rearranging

complicated tunes.

there were those others there,

on the other side of the street,

but the news did not reach them.

 

 

TADIJA

 

they were alone in the street, graffiti jarred the walls, white powder the nostrils: I stretched both arms and plowed morning acquamarine, craziness spilled out of it, the story about unbridled birds from the neighboring university: she wanted to fuck again, I say again, and I didn't even take it out, still hot and limped it simmered in its own juice: some bread crumbs and pepper, salt, parsley, seventeen capers! she moves more and more strongly, the fluid doesn't evaporate, a fateful splash comes from somewhere.

I don't cook for the audience: to prove to myself I know that. I do not use aid. I have only my body and disobedience, brooks stream down the slope and empty into the white linen woven by someone's mother: all this is so blasphemous, I turn

the accessory instrument and resign myself to the alternative: full of skepticism

and synthetics: rainy mornings and starry nights, street musicians in the prime news: what news: what's a piece of news? who needs it? who can give it to me? who is that one to me? what? mice are white again: rivers deep: the seas lap at the shores: lorca loved green: another fucked all the time, then he died. we talked about him for a long time.

 

 

HOLLYWOOD

 

do you dream, do I? not at all: dreams are already on their way to a neighboring galaxy, they say nothing, neither prophets nor bombs, they are not symbolics or a carnation in croatian poetry. vagrants and interceptors control the array which gets one nowhere, trails lined by a dick on the sand of the environment and biology. I alone. she alone. it alone. oblivion is the best memory.

I was a director all week long, having spent 23 million dollars on the movie, whores, statistics. south wind kept opening up lines of trees and stone pussies on monuments, we strayed into a quarry, then sodomy, brave fingers of the resistance freedom movement protruding out, without a name, a message: only a mystical laughter on the platform above stumps and head buzzing one does not die of again: you can't die twice for the same cause, not twice in the same hole, for the splash conquered the space and now pumps patriotic and battle songs ad infinitum, while you are evergreen and the king of rebellion at the city square, not far from a symbolic bang that leaves nothing behind, neither desolation, nor movement: panting, between semblance and oversight, you sketch a travelogue to the end of the world, some world, any world, if it, possibly, yet andsoon. and so on.

 

                                                               

                                                                                       Translated by Mario Suško 

panorama

Fall into Zagreb

From unmissable concerts to jazz and art happenings, film festivals, and events for the littles ones, see what early autumn in Zagreb has to offer in the link below.

panorama

Rebecca Duran's Take on Modern Day Life in Pazin (Istria)

Croatia is a small, charming country known today as a prime European tourist destination. However, it has a complicated often turbulent history and is seemingly always destined to be at the crossroads of empires, religions and worldviews, with its current identity and culture incorporating elements from its former Communist, Slavic, Austrian-Hungarian, Catholic, Mediterranean, and European traditions.

review

Review of Dubravka Ugrešić's Age of Skin

Dubravka Ugrešić is one of the most internationally recognizable writers from Croatia, but she has a contentious relationship with her home country, having gone into self-exile in the early 90s. Her recently translated collection of essays, The Age of Skin, touches on topics of of exile and displacement, among others. Read a review of Ugrešić’s latest work of non-fiction, expertly translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, in the link below .

panorama

Vlaho Bukovac Exhibition in Zagreb Will Run Through May

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) is arguably Croatia's most renowned painter. Born in the south in Cavtat, he spent some of his most impressionable teenage years in New York with his uncle and his first career was as a sailor, but he soon gave that up due to injury. He went on to receive an education in the fine arts in Paris and began his artistic career there. He lived at various times in New York, San Francisco, Peru, Paris, Cavtat, Zagreb and Prague. His painting style could be classified as Impressionism which incorporated various techniques such as pointilism.

An exhibition dedicated to the works of Vlaho Bukovac will be running in Klovićevi dvori Gallery in Gornji Grad, Zagreb through May 22nd, 2022.

review

Review of Neva Lukić's Endless Endings

Read a review of Neva Lukić's collection of short stories, Endless Endings, recently translated into English, in World Literature Today.

panorama

A Guide to Zagreb's Street Art

Zagreb has its fair share of graffiti, often startling passersby when it pops up on say a crumbling fortress wall in the historical center of the city. Along with some well-known street murals are the legendary street artists themselves. Check out the article below for a definitive guide to Zagreb's best street art.

panorama

Beloved Croatian Children's Show Professor Balthazar Now Available in English on YouTube

The colorful, eclectic and much beloved Croatian children's cartoon Professor Balthazar was created by Zlatko Grgić and produced from the late 1960s through the 1970s. Now newer generations will be able to enjoy the Professor's magic, whether they speak Croatian or English.

panorama

New Book on Croatian Football Legend Robert Prosinečki

Robert Prosinečki's long and fabled football career includes winning third place in the 1998 World Cup as part of the Croatian national team, stints in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona as well as managerial roles for the Croatian national team, Red Star Belgrade, the Azerbaijani national team and the Bosnian Hercegovinian national team.

news

Sandorf Publishing House Launches American Branch

Croatian publishing house Sandorf launched their American branch called Sandorf Passage earlier this year.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on the Seedy Side of the Seaside

From strange tales of mysterious murders to suspected criminals hiding out to scams, duels and gambling, Opatija, a favourite seaside escape for Central Europeans at the turn of the last century, routinely filled Austrian headlines and the public's imagination in the early 20th century.

review

Review of new English translation of Grigor Vitez's AntonTon

Hailed as the father of 20th century Croatian children's literature, Grigor Vitez (1911-1966) is well known and loved in his homeland. With a new English translation of one of his classic tales AntonTon (AntunTun in Croatian), children around the world can now experience the author's delightful depiction of the strong-minded and silly AntonTon. The Grigor Vitez Award is an annual prize given to the best Croatian children's book of the year.

news

The Best of New Eastern European Literature

Have an overabundance of free time, thanks to the pandemic and lockdowns? Yearning to travel but unable to do so safely? Discover the rhythm of life and thought in multiple Eastern European countries through exciting new literature translated into English. From war-torn Ukraine to tales from Gulag inmates to the search for identity by Eastern Europeans driven away from their home countries because of the economic or political situations but still drawn back to their cultural hearths, this list offers many new worlds to explore.

panorama

More Zagreb Street Art

Explore TimeOut's gallery of fascinating and at times thought-provoking art in the great open air gallery of the streets of Zagreb.

panorama

Welcome to Zagreb's Hangover Museum

Partied too hard last night? Drop by Zagreb's Hangover Museum to feel more normal. People share their craziest hangover stories and visitors can even try on beer goggles to experience how the world looks like through drunken eyes.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on the Future as Imagined in 1960s Socialist Yugoslavia

How will the futuristic world of 2060 look? How far will technology have advanced, and how will those advancements affect how we live our everyday lives? These are the questions the Zagreb-based magazine Globus asked in a series of articles in 1960, when conceptualizing what advancements society would make 40 years in the future, the then far-off year of 2000. The articles used fantastical predictions about the future to highlight the technological advancements already made by the then socialist Yugoslavia. Take a trip with guide, Jonathan Bousfield, back to the future as envisioned by journalists in 1960s Yugoslavia.

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

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

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.

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's Street Art

So you're visiting Zagreb and are curious about it's underground art scene? Check out this guide to Zagreb's street art and explore all the best graffiti artists' work for yourself on your next walk through the city.

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