Blesok no. 74, September-October, 2010
Dedication to the Path
Stanislava Chrobáková Repar
It all actually began in Slovakia: in February of 2010 the special edition of the Romboid literary monthly came out, dedicated to Macedonian literature and its reflection, in which we presented eleven Macedonian authors as recommended by the Blesok online magazine board of editors: Aleksandra Dimitrova, Lidija Dimkovska, Katica Kjulavkova, Igor Isakovski, Jovica Ivanovski, Stevo Simski, Bogomil Gjuzel, Jasna Koteska, Elizabeta Bakovska, Rumena Bužarovska, and Zvonko Taneski. The Romboid magazine has been published since 1965, and its current publisher is the Association of Writers’ Organizations in Slovakia.
And now the shoe is on the other foot. We have prepared for Blesok an expert selection of Slovak literature and culture, the making of which was, naturally, influenced by two factors: the bilingual edition of Blesok in Macedonian and English, as well as the broader interest of the Macedonian online magazine for other art forms. So, I have called for help two other magazines: the Slovak Literary Review, published biannually by the Literature Information Centre of Bratislava for its own promotional purposes (editor-in-chief is Daniela Humajová), presenting Slovak literature translated in foreign languages; as well as the magazine Vlna (Wave) published since 1999 and propagating the “young, innovative and experimental culture in Slovakia and the world”, edited by Peter Šulej and Petra Fornayová. From the former magazine we have made use of all literary translations into English, and from the latter – the texts in which we offer Macedonian readers a tip of the enormous iceberg of fine-arts, film and musical events in Slovakia.
Regarding the selection itself of literary texts for Blesok, this would hopefully suffice. With the poetry fund we are presenting works of a broad generational spectrum, beginning with poet Ivan Kupec who drew attention to himself with his surrealist poetics, through Ján Ondruš – the prominent representative of the Concretist group of poets, that is, the Trnava group, with their extraordinary, suggestively expressive metaphors, all the way to our recently departed Viera Prokešová, translator of literature, from Macedonian as well, member of the poetic generation of “free-lancers” established primarily in the 1980s and representing the strong (albeit troubled) middle generation of contemporary Slovak poetry. All three authors remained faithful to the poetic genre (should we disregard their essay work), and also proved to be excellent translators.
In the prose pool of authors we highlight writers who in their prose brought in the foreground the already covered free, or more specifically – market conditions in culture following the fall of Communism (after the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989), even though the age difference between them is of a whole generation. Viliam Klimáček, the oldest among them, entered the field of literature as early as the 1980s as a poet. Nowadays, however, he exclusively writes prose, and is also dedicated to auteur theatre, as well as to film and television screenwriting. Ivan Kolenič is a multitalented author (and a “closet” painter), but nevertheless mostly recognized as poet – always extravagant and provocative enough to muddy the still waters of (un)critical minds. Jana Beňová also first appeared as a poet, but with her latest three books she has completely proven her prose predilection. With her relaxed view fierce on the “alienating forms of life” of the youth in the apartment complexes in Bratislava, she has intrigued not only literary critics, but the readership as well.
The comprehensive study of Ján Gavura, a young literary scientist and lecturer at the University of Prešov, of the development paths of the most significant representatives of post-war poetry in Slovakia, has been complemented by several texts, review, as well as an excerpt from an academic monograph, dealing with the opus, that is, the life and literary development of our selected authors. In this regard, for instance, the excerpt from Zvonko Taneski’s monograph dedicated to the work of Ján Ondruš also functions as an additional explanation to his poetics: the author himself in his later creative stage revised some of his earlier poems so that one poem in fact has several versions. Blesok readers may also notice thereof: the Macedonian translation presents the versions separately and completely, whereas the English translation of Ján Ondruš’ several poems is “their mixture/ union” in one whole. The other two reviews aim to familiarize Macedonian readers with the works of two contemporary Slovak authors whose books have recently been published in Serbian and Slovenian translation. We should also note that, ultimately, all the authors in our selection have been or still are regular authors for the Romboid magazine; they have collaborated with it or published there for years – pieces of their creative self-realization – that is, publish to this day.
The Vlna review, published quarterly, has helped us not merely with the essays on interesting artistic activities from our past and present, but also with the rich photo-documentary material and three music recordings; their authors and performers are presented with separate short profiles. We are also offering several Internet links with additional information on the protagonists from the Vlna selection, as well as with other numbers from the music production.
The whole team of Blesok deserves our thanks for this rare presentation opportunity, especially our friend and partner (the only long-haired one) Igor Isakovski, as well as poet and literary scientist Zvonko Taneski himself, whose exclusive interest in the Slovak literary scene has began to give its first results – in translations too.
The two publications (the print one in Slovakia, and the electronic in Macedonia) I have mentioned in this brief “dedication to the path” have originated within the Review within Review international project, coordinated out of Ljubljana in Slovenia, which nowadays unites sixteen magazines from thirteen countries in, primarily, Central and South-Eastern Europe, but also Austria, Italy, Lithuania, and Great Britain. In fact, apart from their respective boards of editors, the two selections were also supported by the International Visegrad Fund as part of the Review within Review Project in the Focus of Visegrad + (RwR in V+).
And finally, I would like this mutual step to have more than mere symbolic or one-time purpose and allow the international scene gradually gain insight into what is best and most vital of both of our (as well as other) partner literatures and cultures. These sorts of unions are always a contribution, and in times of global economic strategies and neoliberal policies, they also counterbalance the barbarity of the new age.
Therefore: literature and culture, therefore, as unwanted weeds in the gardens of cultivated, and even encouraged listlessness, of poorly disguised humiliation of complacent consumers… as a touch beneath the earth, in the “roots of invisibility” or as eruption of vitality.
Or: a “related” cultural underground where above the surface the ever so tousled golden calf keeps winning.
18th May 2010
Translated into English by Kalina Janeva