Duska Vrhovac (Duška Vrhovac), poet, journalist and translator, was born in 1947 in Banja Luka, in the current Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She graduated comparative literature at Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade, where she lives and works as a writer and freelance journalist. She has worked for many years at the Television Belgrade (Radio Television of Serbia) and she has worked with major newspapers.
With 20 published books of poetry, some of which have been translated, in part or in full, into 20 languages, she is among the most significant contemporary authors of Serbia and beyond. Present in newspapers, literary journals and anthologies of absolute value, she has participated in many meetings, festivals and literary events in Serbia and abroad.
Duska Vrhovac is a member, among others, of the Association of Writers of Serbia, Association of Literary Translators of Serbia, of the International Federation of Journalists and she is ambassador of the Movement Poets of the World (Movimiento Poetas del Mundo) in Serbia and Vice President for Europa.
She has received important awards and recognition for poetry, including: Majska nagrada za poeziju -May prize for poetry- 1966, Yugoslavia; Pesničko uspenije -Ascension of Poetry – 2007, Serbia; Gensini Prize – Poetry Section 2011, Italy; Naji Naaman’s honour prize for complete work – 2015, Lebanon, and the golden badge assigned by the Institution for Culture and Education of the Republic of Serbia.
Poems by Duska Vrhovac
Poets are a gang
of daily life and eternity,
hunters of misplaced words
and spies on roads and seas.
Poets are haughty caretakers
of overgrown royal gardens,
forerunners of star derailments,
harbingers of sunk ships,
desecrators of secret paths,
crafty healers of
Great Bear and Little Bear and
gatherers of the dust of Universe.
Poets are the stealers of illusions,
discoverers of discarded utopias,
deceivers of every kind,
tasters of poisoned food,
prodigal sons and professional seducers,
knight-riders who readily place
theirheads under guillotine
and become their own executioners.
Poets are crowned
guardians of the essence of language,
devotees of unsolvable misteries,
illusionists and procurers.
They are the favourites of gods,
testers of magic potions
of their own lives.
Poets are the last offspring
of the most delicate sort of Cosmic beings
nurturers of the soul’s white flowers
and unreliable creators of unsustainable worlds.
Poets are interpreters of lost signs,
carriers of important messages
and a warning that Life is endless,
and Universe an unfinished project.
Poets are fireflies in the dump of Cosmos,
conquerors of the golden belt of rainbow’s colours
and performers of the sacred music
of the creation of Universe.
Poets are imperceptible conversationalists
in silence about sense and nonsense
about all the visible and the invisible.
Poets are my only true brothers.
TO FIND MY OWN WORD
Countless poets have already told
how they see a whole world in a grain of sand,
infinity in the palm of a hand, all heaven in an eye,
and how a single day can be an eternity..
Many of them have glorified love,
cursed suffering, sorrow and pain,
described death, hell, paradise and a happy home,
earnest that everlasting shall be their work and name.
Everything has been said and seen,
forewarned, sung and written about,
and there is nothing that has never been.
So why then do here I stand
Like the first woman and the first man,
As if I were a God.
To say what was told?
To describe what is written?
To find my own word.
I was picking red peonies with you last night
by the muddy Bistrica river.
From the sky were falling white petals on us
from the hands of souls who haven’t found peace.
From grass could be heard whisperings of ancient lovers,
the sound of horsemen clatter was coming from the road,
as in the poems of Hikmet Nazim.
While drops of the mystic rain were colouring our faces
Your eyes were sparkling balsam for the soul
and with some damned synergy
your hot breath on my mature lips
was turning into scarlet dew drops.
Everything was unreal except the night,
except our tears and blessings of our Lord.
Now I know that you are and what is and what is not.
If you were a blue dawn of my gentle death
and painful twilight of their outgoing youth;
if you were stopped voice of the primordial scream,
the runaway dream of fullness of a sleeping angel
who got tired of the excessive desire
and wished to rest on my shoulder.
On a dark veil of my confused night
with your finger, like with a magic brush,
you are painting white, drowsy lilies.
Confused by your risen desire
they mindlessly grow and outgrow
the view of my shaded window.
I am watching you while in an ecstasy you ask the wind
Can this field bear so much beauty
which swells your chest to burst.
Wind is quiet, entirely got quiet, intoxicated,
Fears to not get blown away by the smell of coming poem
into the dreams of the innocent and still asleep ones.
And on my face, as on the waters of Jordan,
fly reflections of your original character
and the soul celebrates, not caring for eternity or volatility.
Loneliness does not fade in the moonlight.
By that primal candle
fades only our unstable character
stooping over loneliness
wanting to portray it as a mystical moment
chosen and embraced voluntarily.
But the smell of iodine in the air warns.
The depth of breaths give us away
and we and this rich night in the distance
turn into cosmic pain
instead of the wax seal
which seals the important messages.
Pain thickens in the moonlight
Hands look for each other
as they are not twins
but strangers from another planet.
Not the smell of sea water
Nor the substantial iodine can help it there.
In the night of moonlight everything opens
and releases abstained traces
and easily broken dreams.
Not even the tide or ebb can do anything.
In the night of moonlight only love helps.
Translated by Richard Burns and Vera V. Radojević: POETS, TO FIND MY OWN WORD.
Translated by Aleksandar Malešević: MYSTIC RAINS, HEAVENLY THINGS, MOONLIGHT.