What Illuminates Life
In such a world and time, fast and shallow, nervous and vulgarized, marked by the ”senile barbarism” and base materialism, to preserve a poetic event for three decades is a feat. Coping with the anti-culture programmed from the above, with scarce resources and the psychology of a ”small community” from below. But it can be done. Mladenovac has thus become a true poetic city. More than two hundred books have been created within this festival, which has twelve of its anthologies, catalogs and studies. And it has become a good example to many other towns

By: Igor Davidović

At a time when festivals that impose trendy content and criteria are multiplying, those that resist the pseudo culture like an oasis of spirit still survive on the cultural map of Serbia. Ostensibly a big media do not pay attention to them, they take place in the shadow of popularized culture, but it does not take away their value, or significance. On the contrary.
One of such festivals is ”Šumadija Metaphors”, a literary event in Mladenovac, lasting for nearly three decades and bringing together both known and less known poets. Despite limited resources, it also resists the provincial apathy, which is by a rule easily dominated by the untalented. That is why the enthusiasm of the people who have designed this event and maintained it until today deserves respect.
We are reminded of this by one of the key people of ”Šumadija Metaphors”, writer and critic Dušan Stojković.
– Like all poetry festivals, this festival has survived thanks to great enthusiasm of those who were its founders and holders, although from the very beginning, when the first anthology appeared, it was recognized as one of the most prestigious poetry festivals in the country. . The winners were known and renowned poets such as Milјurko Vukadinović, Andrej Jelić Mariokov, Radoslav Vučković, as well as those that the festival woke up from a long poetic silence, such as Milenko Popić. It is my pleasure to also point out those who first appeared at our first festival, and then became poets that Serbian poetry seriously counts on – Dragana Bukvić, Goran Labudović Šarlo, Mirjana Kovačević, Želјko Janković. The latter, for a book that was awarded at the festival, received the prestigious ”Branko's Award” – said Stojković.
Thanks to the festival, Mladenovac has significantly strengthened its cultural identity, while the participants have gained a respectable poetic affirmation.
– I will not be wrong if I say that the Mladenovac has gained the label of a poetic city, not during the festival – Dušan Stojković continues. – Several young artists of Mladenovac have grown up along with the festival, such as Radiša Marinković, Tomislav Marković, Branka Zgonjanin, Silvana Janković. It is very important that almost two hundred books have been published, and anthologies have been continuously innovated. It is logical that, in parallel with the festival, great attention is paid to our cultural history. Thus, Mladenovac has received twelve anthologies, catalogs of artists and studies of Mladenovac writers, which is not often the case in other areas. The poets have been able to socialize with their poetic brothers and sisters from abroad, since international guests have also been participating at the festival for almost twenty years. Some of them are among the most famous poets in their countries.


One of the most valuable fruits of ”Šumadija Metaphors” is The Grammar of Death, an unusual original edition of our interlocutor.
– I have imagined a whole series of ”angled anthologies”. The first to appear was The Body in the Body, an anthology of Serbian erotic poetry. Then the first book of The Grammar of Death. I thought that one volume would be sufficient to show how suicide and touching poetry match and embrace one another, but it has turned out that thirteen books would barely enable me to put an end to this project. I have published eight books, another four are almost completed, the last and final one still remains, which will examine the theme of suicide in world literature. Death is something that every true writer is constantly facing, watching it face to face. Suicide, the free death, is the topic that can by no means be equated with other topics. Suicide poets, especially those who end their lives very young, in some mysterious way know that long life was not given to them, and so they rush, and often manage to poetically express themselves quickly, early and deeply. Poems, stories and novels are equally written by them and by the death that has nested in them. Accursed poets are among the best in the history of literature. Unfortunately, their suicide is often challenged very clumsily. In my books, I offer what they have created, and anyone who is infected with literature can easily compare this with what was created by boring repeaters, idle copyists, thieves. The Grammars of Death, are books that have loomed over the abyss and managed, I am convinced that, to bring into the light of day at least part of the dark world.


The question is whether true poetry has its place and role in such a world and time, fast and shallow, nervous and vulgarized, marked by the ”senile barbarism” and base materialism, and whether, as such, it affects the life and the world, the ordinary people and the community?
– Poetry has always been the heart of literature. It is the best and true, which shines upon every true and rich life It is the air of our spiritual life. Poetry will never be written by all and maybe it will be read by fewer and fewer people, but it will be here, next to us. Even then when we do not pluck it as a beautiful and fragrant flower, it will be what enriches us, even though we may not be aware of it. In the time shallow and empty, poetry is the fullness and depth. If, and it is, the time at in which we exist is the reverse side of all noble and spiritual, poetry is the face of it. We cannot and will not go out in front of people without a face. Or, more importantly, in front of ourselves – says Dušan Stojković.
The festival is called ”Šumadija Metaphors”. How to describe the core Šumadija, through the lens of literature and life, its geopoetic, cultural and characterological code?
– When our festival was baptized, Ljubivoje Ršumović, Velimir Lukić, Aleksandar Popovic, Radomir Andrić, Branislav Petrović and many others were present, and I do not remember who the best man was. I perceive Šumadija as the heart of Serbia. At one time they claimed that Despot Stefan Lazarević wrote An Homage to Love in a Pavlovac Monastery, which had been erected during his time. That is what Šumadija is form me – homage to love. More than ten years ago I compiled The Hum of Šumadija, an anthology of Šumadija poetry, starting from the first year of the First Uprising. Poets who were included in this anthology are reliable guarantors that the people of Šumadija were as good poets as they were warriors. They still know it today.
In 2016, the first award at the Festival ”Šumadija Metaphors” went to the poet Rade Đokanović, for his book Absolutely Obedient. The second and third prizes went to Biljana Grošin and Vlastimir Stanisavljević Šarkamenac for the book Aurora Borealis, or Groundbreaking Day and Unknown Femme Fatal. The organizers have announced that the thirtieth anniversary of the festival, which will be marked in 2017, will take place with many poetic and other surprises, which will establish the fundamental importance of this event in the cultural scene of Serbia.


Mladenovac as a literary hero
– Dragoslav Andrić, a famous translator and well-known writer, one of the funniest people the Serbian literature has ever had, claimed to be from Mladenovac, although he spent lived in Mladenovac for only a few years as a boy – says Dušan Stojković. – Our city is also represented in the book The Official in a Province by Milivoje Ristić, who spent the first two years of his legal mandate in our town. Mladenovac also appears in the Berane Stories by Jovan Bogićević and Stories from Selters by Voja Marjanović. This city is also one of the heroes of the novel Paradise Scams by Vladimir Arsić. It can be found in the stories of Branislava Kovačević, Aleksandar Vitorović and Miladin Ćulafić, as well as in the novels of Radovan Blagojević, in poems and short stories of Milјurko Vukadinović...


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