I am looking at several poetry books by Nikola Cincar Poposki, who
has just received a very prominent award “Jovan Skerlic” in Belgrade,
Serbia.

Born in 1944 in Struga, Macedonia, his first poem was published in
1966, while he was still in the military service. Since, he has
published his poetry, essays, and literary critiques in numerous
magazines and periodicals. His books have been translated into
Russian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Rumanian,
French, and awarded several times: in Struga, 1968; by the
Association of the Writers of Serbia, Milan Rakic, in 2002; The award
Karageorge in 2004; Ravanichanin in 2006; the International award
Premiul Balcanic, in Rumania, 1998; and the recent, prominent
Serbian award “Jovan Skerlic” in 2010. His poetry collections are:
Nerodjeni (Unborn), 1972; Karma, 1976; Raskorak (Out of Step),
1978; Struski project (The Project of Struga, a verbal-vocal-visual
project) 1981; Spasavanje smrti (Salvation of Death), 1986; Numen-
um mena, 1990; Gramatika apokalipse (The Grammar of the
Apocalypse) 1997; second ed. 1998; Numen-guget avatar, in
Rumanian language, 1998; Vaskrslo slovo (The Resurrected Word),
2002; Vidivid, 2004; Istiniti (True), 2005; Nasip (Embankment), a
selection from the published and some new poems, 2009.

   A poem in Nikola Cincar Poposki’s book is like a loop in a chain,
announcing the birth of his future collections. The poem is developed
into a whole theme, all adding to the study of the mysteries of
existence. The author is successfully choosing a unique approach to
his poetic building material, the word itself, in his dedicated search of
the pure thought. His poetry is expressing the mysteries of existence
through five cycles of five different approaches into the secrets of the
Being’s and World’s existence. In the Unborn, the poet deals with the
relationship of the Man-Woman-Son, where the Son is an extension,
savior of life but also the Father-Killer. The points in the first cycle: the
birth, sin, death, resurrection and the eternal are present in the other
four too. He expresses his life philosophy, his vision of the universe in
spiral forms, skillfully intertwining the themes and motives. The basic
theme is destiny (Karma) and the human personal responsibility
within the global, universal harmony. All along he touches upon the
plethora of other motives, in each book, all of them meaningfully
joined and entangled. Out of Step is dedicated to the reflections
about life and death, laws of cosmos, the “out of step-ness” of space
and time, spirit and matter. Salvation of Death is an analogy of the
planetary system (according to one critic) where language is the
means of salvation from death’s perishing into the metaphysical
nothingness (explains another). Numen -- um mena deals with the
timeless philosophical and poetic theme of constant change. This
book has been assessed as sur-realistic, symbolical, hermetic,
courageous in concepts and combinations, combining old myths with
new interpretations, weaving in the undying great themes. Although
as highly coded as the previous, here the poet is naming his codes,
guiding the reader through a maze of complex structures and
possible interpretations. The conclusion: poetry is a search for the
pure thought and the most powerful document of existence.

The critics’ interest in Nikola Cincar Poposki is high.  What is
different and outstanding in his poetry? He is not part of the
mainstream, in his poetic exploration of that which cannot be
expressed. He is aware of the Word as the Beginning of the order in
cosmos, coding and decoding his language and grammar to offer a
fresh dynamic in his discourse, fully aware that what is said never
matches the comprehended; no thought ever is completely grasped.  
His themes are cosmic and basic at the same time, his thought
oscillating between the past and present, spiritual and material. On
occasion, his poetry is payer-like, resulting from the awareness that
the course of the contemporary powers is often taking destructive
paths. Thus his preoccupation with “embankments”, need for “the
grammar of Apocalypse” and “salvation of death”.

A plentiful, prosperous response of detailed, professional essays,
studies and critiques of the poetic opus of Nikola C. Poposki resulted
in the dedication of the Number ten in the renewed “Plus Library” of
the prominent literary magazine Savremenik (editor Srba Ignjatovic).
Also, an anthology of the critics’ responses has been published,
entitled The Poet Nikola Cincar Poposki (Beograd, Apostrof, 2000).
My intention here is to draw the readers’( in English language)
attention to his work, without aiming at a full analysis or study. I do not
consider myself qualified. Zivan Zivkovic used a well known adage to
explain: Poposki’s choice of a “less traveled path”, a path that
requires high mountaineering and deep diving of the reader’s mind to
follow a worthy challenge. Jovica Acin explains the concept of the
apocalyptic writing as a clearly hyperbolic discourse with an
abundance of various figures, “a real rhetorical plantation”, since the
times of the Jewish and Christian apocalypses. In the case of N.C.
Poposki, the self-reflection becomes a unique “grammar”.

The title The Grammar of Apocalypse promises much, but this author
is known to offer more, a language alchemist forever experimenting,
breaking the words to their core, to build new, exciting, layered and
loaded in meaning multifaceted ones, based on his limitless
knowledge of various civilizations, mythologies, scientific and literary
facts, echoes and allusions. His books are like linguistic and
intellectual cook-books of gourmet meals for the choosiest readers.
Although not written for the masses, his books are sought after and
sold out, showing that people still (and maybe always will) write and
read poetry. Good poetry. However, often, such poetry is
untranslatable. The play with words cannot be adequately transmitted
into a different language without losing too much. Hopefully, the
philosophical depth and wisdom in the poet’s thought can.

The Grammar of Apocalypse has played a decisive role in the
reception of the poet’s entire opus. In continuity with the previous, this
one makes us responsible for our existence, states Milan Djordjevich.
There is a phenomenon of prophecy present in Poposki’s “poetry of
duality”…to understand it, one needs exoteric and esoteric
knowledge, argues George J. Janich. This book presupposes
readers’ knowledge of the comparative religion, mythology, and
symbolism of the St John’s Apocalypse. The author adds examples
from modern technology, everyday life in our civilization, intertwining
light and shadow, physical and spiritual.
Numen -- um mena deals with the timeless philosophical and poetic
theme of constant change. This book has been called sur-realistic,
symbolical, hermetic, courageous in concepts and combinations,
combining old myths with new interpretations, weaving in the undying
great themes. Although as highly coded as the previous books, in this
one the poet is naming his codes, guiding the reader through a maze
of complex structures and possible interpretations. The conclusion:
poetry is a search for the pure thought and the most powerful
document of existence.

   Saving Death deals with life and death. It can also mean saving
from death. A highly philosophical, contemplative poetry, accepting
the concept of dying “in the all existing previous lives”. We are
reminded: The truth is born out of doubt.

Language is the source of the existing human knowledge, a universal
tool with other people, cultures and civilizations. It is not static,
however, therefore the poet destroys and decomposes words to
create unexpected meanings. This “game” is kept throughout the
cycles, where the first poem may stand for a prayer, a biblical symbol,
disclosing the poet’s view of the reality. The game of mirrors is used
to compare and show the duality. The richness of the text, myths,
symbols, images, concepts and depth of thought culminates in a
powerfully orchestrated Beethoven-like symphony.

Life and death is a duality in one: life is a source and death is the
mouth of the same river. Read Nikola Cincar Poposki and find out
your own path in the labyrinths of human existence.

The text and poetry translations from Serbian: Mira N. Mataric , 2010


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VERTICAL MOUTH

I plucked
weed from the tongue
of the elapsed lunatics
From the jaws
headless words
escaped
No more
peace for us
even in dead mouths
Time
changes the master
to be served by teeth
deaf listeners
are killed
within walls
ears are hiding.


A WHIM OF NATURE IN VRANJE

A wolf changes his coat
never his nature.
An African sneers at animals
and Oba-ma is the world’s ma.
The American Om
is different from  Indian
the Chinese one ma
puts me in awe
more than my own mother.

I am worried
that Urania
and the Greek meaning of fire
may become the object
of the forger’s fairy tale’s death
and with Tor’s axe
above the bellows in Vranje
may brake the myth
of archaeologists as losers
.

Note: Vranje is a south-Serbian town, where a cow recently
had a double-headed calf and a sheep an eight-legged lamb.


FROM THE LEAF OF THE TAO

Shooting from the leaf
fitting into the Tao
all around me the evil is budding
with empty pages of the mind
and accusations that nature is unfaithful
to the change of the yellowing stage
I have spent their
pre-winter falling
floating above the rotting
and thus becoming the path
with the earth’s sweat blood and mind
served the earthly disappearance
winning my new summit
for the train of the God’s blue
and..and…and…
the evil one is back in Hell.

Note: How sadly this translation falls short of the original! The first word
of the poem in the original  IZLISTAO appears in the last as I  ZLI  
STAO . The first means “budded with leaves”, the last (by breaking the
word into meaningful peaces) becomes “the evil one stands, stops, or  
even fits (in Hell)”…The translation can catch one, overall meaning of
the words in the poem, but loses the best part of it, the play with words
and consequent richness of the possible new, layered meanings.

In the poem U USTA STANEM NEM (I fit into the mouth mute) the poet
plays with USTANEM (I get up) and STANEM (stand up, fit into). That is
lost in the translation because the form of the word and its meaning do
not match in different languages. Therefore, this translation here has
only one intention: to show that the best art is often untranslatable or
much poorer than the original.



I FIT INTO THE MOUTH, MUTE

I get up
from grave
of Edgar Alan Poe
and fit into the mouth, mute
into the mouth of a tree
growing from him
I fit into the crown
and hide
covered by the hushed leaves
while feeding it with light
and colors of the mute language

And then and there
lands on me a parrot
and says:
“Nevermore”
But only the deaf hear him!

The text and poetry translations from Serbian: Mira N. Mataric , 2010
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
BY NIKOLA CINCAR POPOSKI
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