The Path of the Poets
They have been gathering for nine years, always around St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day, in the unique poets’ home named after Desanka Maksimović. Over two thousand visitors, over a hundred participants so far. There is no snobbery or competition, there is more brotherhood than marketing. Everyone choses their words carefully, making eye contact. A poet from Majevica gave them gifts: smoked cheese and white wheat flour. The storm was raging in Serbia that day, but there was no sign of it here. The anti-hail system did not work, but the poets did their magic. And so unscathed they landed on the lapel of our hundredth issue

By: Bane Velimirović
Photo: Kristina Došlić Marković, NR Press and ”Staza” Archive

Above Krupanj, on the left shoulder of the Sokolske mountains, ”like God’s stone”, is Bogoštica. The village, crossed by the river of the same name, and a monastery since 2007, metochion of the Soko monastery ten kilometers to the south. Both monasteries are the endowments of the now retired bishop of Šabac Lavrentije (1935–2022), who was born right here, in Bogoštica, as Živko Trifunović.
The temple of the Bogoštica monastery, dedicated to the Three-Handed Virgin of Hilandar, was built in the same way as Njegoš’s votive and burial chapel on Lovćen. Made of stone, it is the same size and shape. That little church stands beautifully even in these heights of Rađevo, like a canula on the edge of a vast plain, under the deciduous forest itself.
The monastery is young, it can be seen that it will still grow, but it is already special in some ways. In the yard, at the other end of the high plateau, the House of Serbian Poetry ”Desanka Maksimović” was built. The big white building, like a ship in the blue skies of Rađevo, often gathers people from all Serbian countries and diaspora. One of the most important such gathering is ”Staza”, an event that took place last August for the ninth time. It also summoned us this time, along with a group of famous poets from Belgrade, to Bogoštica.
”The poetic, Musical and Artistic Encounter ‘Staza’ was created in 2015 at the initiative of a group of artists from Krupanj organized into the association ‘Solart’, with the wholehearted support and blessing of Archimandrite Nifont (Pavlović), abbot of the Bogoštica monastery”, says Nikola Stakić, poet and one of the organizers. ”Bishop Lavrentije dedicated the poetry home ‘Desanka Maksimović’ for the gathering of poets, musical artists and other creators, so this event revives and fulfills that idea. In the past years, more than two thousand people visited ‘Staza’, and there were over a hundred participants. In addition to the program, the festival fosters meeting and getting to know creative people. Musical tradition from Serbian countries and the world, poetry, artwork, photography, iconography... We try to maintain authenticity and quality.”


In front of the House of Serbian Poetry ”Desanka Maksimović” you can see far, all the way to the end of the Sokolske Mountains and to Jagodnja. Outlines of Boranja and Medvednik can be seen in the flames of Azbukovica. The poetic encounter is beautiful and simple, it exudes a kind of beneficial intimacy and healthy communion. There is no snobbery and competition, there is more brotherhood than marketing. They pay attention to their words, look each other in the eyes, listen to the interlocutor patiently. This year, an academician, Milosav Tešić, poet and linguist, is there for the first time. With him is Ljubomir Ćorilić, the bard of Jadar, then Branislav Matić, Slobodan Jović, Dragan Marković... It is he, the latter, one of the hosts and one of the important Serbian poets of the middle generation, who gives us a reminder not to omit someone by mistake: ... Aleksandra Batinić, Đorđe Bogojević, Dragan Veličković, Pavle Zelјić, Jovanka Nikolić, Nataša Đurović, Milan Dabović, Milena Ćirović, Dragoš Robović. This year, a high-quality collection Staza.Poet’s Verse (edited by Dragan Marković and Miloš Zubac) with poems of all previous participants was also published. In it, Dragan Marković, a poet who lives in Kostajnik near Krupanj, writes:
”Every path leads somewhere. To a source, to a fire, to a cemetery, a house, a place of worship, to the top of a hill or to the bottom of ancient times. Each path flows into another path, as man shakes hands with man. It is not enough to cut it, to compact it, to pave it with bare feet and stone blocks. The path is to be guarded and nurtured, hiked, fortified, maintained, continuously and without stopping. Seven by seven years, seventy-seven by seventy-seven people. Where there are no people, there are no paths. No life. Beasts can find a road, a tree and a star. But only a man bequeaths to someone of his own before leaving. The narrow path of his experience, quest and doubt, a path that inevitably turns into a circle. A path marked by stumbles and exhilaration. Man is the Hard Path. If there is a strong faith in him. The path is man’s encounter with himself and his neighbor. The path is a Dream. The first dream of a newborn after the terrible entry into the light of this world. Some of us never remember that dream again. And some don’t even wake up. The path is a meeting place in Bogoštica. Of travelers, artists, pilgrims, novices... The path near the monastery in Bogoštica is this year 2023 for the ninth time. So smile and welcome yourself and everyone who is well-intentioned and God-loving.”
Milosav Tešić brought ”Žiča Inscription”, ”Peć Patriarchy: Mulberry of St. Sava”, ”Lower Nest”, ”Klokoč Stream”, ”There Is a Universe”. Ljuba Ćorilić, since before, ”Reconcile This Day, These Thunders” (and also ”Desanka”, and ”Višnjić”, and ”Serbia of Undefeated”, and of course ”Dunja”). Sloba Jović brought a handful from Jesus’ Thorn, and proudly distributed smoked cheese from Majevica and white wheat flour to the participants. Dragan Marković from The Horn of Plenty, from his recently ”collected poems”, sowed just as much as becomes the host. Branislav Matić from The Blessing offered some local images and fruits, from Rađevo and Jadar, and that is how the harp player Đorđe Ćurčija, and Vučina, and Cvijić, and Matija’s winged horse appeared. He didn’t say which one Matija, but he reminded us that Bishop Lavrentije, while Živko was still there, completed two grades of high school in Loznica.


Others also brought clean hearts and full folders along the Path. It was wonderful under the summer house, a hayloft, as it were, in Desanka’s House.
On the first floor of that homely white building, in a spacious gallery, iconographic works were exhibited by Slađana Marinković, Boris Petronić and Vladimir Sekulić. Very interesting and knowledgeable, both in terms of handling techniques and high artistic literacy. Poets came in groups to see the exhibition. They look carefully, some even write down (perhaps, without knowing it, we witnessed the birth of a poem). Conversations between the two arts, two god-seeking quests, prudent and fine, took place.
As the dusk crept over Rađevina, through Rupava all the way to Rožanj and Postenje, we approached the music program. The previous evening, on St. Mary Magdalene’s day (4 August 4), Miloš Zubac and ”Kalem” shone, and this Saturday, Svetlana Spajić, a world-class singer, born in these parts. The ethno-group ”Biseri” from Žitorađa, under the direction of Goran Pop-Antanasković, was also excellent. An important element was added by Dušan Resavac with an exhibition of instruments and a concert with Ivica Đokić.
Later, before returning, we found out that Belgrade and Srem, and all down the Danube and along the Morava, had been hit by a storm that day. It fell trees, carried roofs and containers, the hail riddled the shutters like shrapnel. And here, in Bogoštica, there was no sign of it. Anti-hail systems were not heard, but the poets did their magic.


A Decade
This year, a jubilee was also marked at ”Staza”. It was a decade of work of the ”Solart” association from Krupanj, without which ”Staza” would not exist.
The people at ”Solart” know that there is as much culture as we make it and live it.


Weaving and Dancing
Zoran Slijepčević from Zrenjanin led the weaving workshop at ”Staza” this summer.
On Sunday, we were already over the hill, and there was a dance in Bogoštica. We learn that it was members of the folklore section of the ”Politika” Library from Krupanj, who did it well, joyfully and energetically.

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