One of Macedonia’s most celebrated poets, Slavko Janevski displays a prodigious poetic range, moving fluidly and powerfully through traditional folk-poem motifs into tightly wrought contemporary imagery in free verse. His poems teem with Hieronymmous Bosch-like strange creatures composed of bits and pieces of men, animals and inanimate objects.Born in 1920 in Skopje, Slavko Janevski joined the Partizans during WWII. He published the first of several collections of poetry in 1945; however in 1966, with Bread and Stone and The Gospel According to Old Peyo, his bold metaphorical experiments established his reputation as one of the most original and compelling of the nation’s poets. The presiding imaginative spirit is Sly Peyo with a sensibility U.S. readers can recognize from Indian tricksters’ tales.
Charles Simic came with his family to the U.S. as a child. He is the recipient of many awards for his own work and his translations, among them awards from the American Academy of Arts and letters, the Pen Translation Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for The World Doesn’t End. A MacArthur Fellow, Mr. Simic is a Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire.
One plucks the earth’s innards,the other pulls at heaven’s beard.
When it’s the future they knead,
shoulder-deep they drown in gristle.
Or look at them when they fight.
The left scratches the veins of the right one,
the right one uses its veins to whip the nails back.
Even when they gather in the shape of a pious seashell,
inwardly the palms devour each other.
When they’re making something, Lord,
they’re your spit-image.
they blow on their wounds.
Amputee, tell them about the mountains,
about ten callouses on the hands of ancestors,
those soldiers in mines,
ditch-diggers in wars.