Selected Poems of Milan Djordjevic
Translated and Introduced by Charles Simic
Princeton University Press – £13.95
Every now and then, words, quite often in the form of poetry, have the power, the persuasion, and the all-penetrative ability to stop one in ones’ tracks. The right words, can, quite literally, albeit momentarily, stop the world from turning. For a few fleeting micro-seconds, one is able to be transported to another place, another world, another kingdom – wherein logic and science, can, and quite often do, take second place to an all embracing artistic wonderment.
Such is the possibility, the sheer scale of the penetrative persuasion amid some of these poems.
As such, it’s no surprise that much of the incisive vision of current Serbian poet, Milan Djordjevic, is able to make one stop and think and contemplate, before continuing on with the everyday norm of elongated existence. As unbelievably translated by Charles Simic, who, in the Introduction of Oranges And Snow, aptly quotes Djordjevic: ‘’The voice of poetry is the voice of one solitude addressing another solitude.’’
Like comedy, poetry is highly subjective. Depending on one’s point of view, it can be missed, mistaken, misunderstood, and in turn, vehemently dismissed if not forgotten like a passing car. That said, life and life only, for as beautiful as it is, can just as easily be shocking, grotesque and confusing – as many a writer of astute and noble ability has oft had the courage and the clarity of mind to bestow. From Kathy Acker to W. H. Auden, from John Lennon to D. H. Lawrence, uncomfortable truths have so often been beautifully delivered; but in the cold light of day, flippantly accepted or wantonly dismissed by way of negligence, smug indifference or both.
Many such examples are liberally entrenched within these forty-four poems; most notably: ‘Silence and Snow,’ ‘Great and Small,’ ‘The Game,’ ‘Two Pigeons,’ ‘Pocket Watch,’ ‘Melancholy and Secret of the Street’ and the wholly un-forgiving but brilliant ‘A Man in a State of Rebellion.’
From the opening gambit of:
tonight someone will fuck someone
while statesmen negotiate
untie the knots on neckties long underwear
and tense international situations
while secretly they scratch their balls under the table
to the psychological enrichment of such disposed negotiation as:
and I will grow nauseous of that small manifestation of life
huddled like a carnivorous worm on the bottom of a glass
There’s something inherently, yet quintessentially open and honest about what Djordjevic deems fit to include on the page. As well as what not to include. It’s as if the poet invariably feels the text; embraces it in such a way that we know. We are after all, addressed as if we know: where he’s coming from, where he’s going to, and what he’s (still) going through. As only by way of contemplation and actually reading Oranges and Snow, will one be in a position to get truly lost amid the nullipore of such graceful, social opulence.