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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 80-81 | volume XIV | September-December, 2011



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 80-81September-December, 2011

“Scorpius balcanicus” , Or: how to read Macedonian poetry

(Preface to "Six Macedonian Poets", ARC PUBLICATIONS, UK, 2011)

p. 1
Ana Martinoska

    Seven years ago, during a research stay at Oxford University’s summer hospitality scheme, I first became acquainted with my appointed mentor over lunch at his college. At first, I felt slightly uncomfortable having a meal at high table alongside other professors, while the students sat at tables positioned a few steps lower. During the first course, I became even more uneasy when the renowned literature professor started bombarding me with questions. Having my background on his mind, he began with a political analysis of Tito and the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Soon, he switched to poetry, obviously his favourite topic. Being a poet himself, he was interested in Macedonian poetry. That raised two questions in my mind: what to tell someone who is, more or less, uninformed of a far-away country and its literature in order to present the specific notion of Macedonian poetry throughout the ages and make him intrigued by it; and on the other hand, how to explain it when there are hardly any translations available.
    I’ve had nearly the same dilemma writing this introduction, and, therefore, I’m about to present to you nearly all I told my Oxford professor. Hopefully it may well provide some understanding of Macedonian poetry in all its complex forms regardless of the reader’s prior knowledge of the socio-political and cultural context in which it is generated. However, simply having this worthy book, which contains a few of the finest examples of Macedonian contemporary poetry, is an advantage I didn’t have back then. For that, we must congratulate Arc Publications. Offering the British and international public a bilingual edition that presents poetry from a small Balkan country such as Macedonia as a part of the New Voices from Europe might be considered a bold and daring step, and thus witnesses the publishers’ broad-mindedness and openness towards the diversity, distinctiveness and multiculturalism. For us, it proves the inevitable fact that there are no nations or literatures that are small, insignificant or culturally less powerful than the others, and that every unique culture (including poetry) should be presented to a broader audience without hesitation or fear of marginalisation. Next, our gratitude goes to the amazing advocate of Macedonian literature, Igor Isakovski, a spiritus movens of the cultural institution “Blesok” and the online literary magazine of the same name, who made the selection of presented poets. We also extend our gratitude to the remarkable translations

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