Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ extols the virtues of meeting ‘with Triumph and Disaster/ And treat(ing) those two impostors just the same’: of all lines in late-Victorian poetry, few are more likely to be found tattooed on the flesh of people you know and (possibly) love. Kipling was also, of course, a poet rather too fond of identifying ‘lesser breeds’ and ‘sullen peoples/ Half devil and half child’, and his words should be treated with a healthy degree of scepticism. All of which serves as a slightly long-winded introduction to two more Poetry World Cup contenders, primed to meet with either Triumph or Disaster in today’s vote…
Nora Nadjarian, representing Cyprus, has described herself as ‘a Cypriot with an Armenian soul.’ Her grandparents were Armenian refugees, and her writing has been shaped by two nations scarred by violence and loss. The quality of her work has brought her international attention, and her poetry was anthologised in Bloodaxe’s Being Human (2011). ‘Poetry,’ she says, ‘is… a stream, the shape of everything that ever was… what a star feels like when it’s held in the hand.’
Dušan Gojkov is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Balkan Literary Herald, and represents Serbia in our world cup. Since the mid-eighties he has published a book of short prose, five novels, a collection of literary essays and two collections of radio essays. His work has been translated into numerous languages, including French, German, Danish, Greek and Macedonian, and his fiction has received several high-profile awards. As a journalist, he has reported from a total of 37 countries.
The time came when they longed to return. The time came when they could no longer return. ~ Nora Nadjarian Poem no. 4 she ~ Dušan Gojkov, trans. Maida Salkanović RESULT: Cyprus won by 3 votes
My father walked circles in the living room,
my mother packed and unpacked her hands.
We will leave when the rain stops, they said.
The rain in this country is so unkind.
My father sat in his remote corner of silence,
my mother leant into lamplight and threaded sighs
We will leave when the rain stops, she said,
hummed intricate tunes, sewed invisible tears.
sadly packing winter clothes in the closet
trying to remember
where has she lost the past year
which was the first and last for many things
leaning against the bed
writes meaningless pathetic verses which do not even rhyme
but actually trying to remember
how and where… did he lose the past year
he comes closer to the window it’s spring time
the street is dark…
The time came when they longed to return.
The time came when they could no longer return.
~ Nora Nadjarian
Poem no. 4
~ Dušan Gojkov, trans. Maida Salkanović
RESULT: Cyprus won by 3 votes