Friday, February 8, 2013

Winners Of The Serbian Poetry Competition


An initiative launched by

The Serbian Library in London




On Saturday the  2nd of February The Serbian Library announced the Winners of “First Poetry Competition in Serbian Diaspora in Britain”. The aim of this competition, as previously mentioned here on The Parrish Lantern, is to encourage poets to write in their mother tongue, as well as others who are happy to write in either language, thus enabling the Serbian community in Britain to be able to enjoy an on-going relationship with their language, it’s culture and heritage. The Serbian Library also hopes, by bringing together poets and writers, to create a data base which will enable regular reporting on the developments and events regarding literature, poetry, literary evenings, the publication of new books and publishing initiatives in both Britain and Serbia,

and perhaps in time the wider world.

Enough of my Waffle, Over to the Judges                               ***************************


Sonja Besford, well published and translated    writer and poet, also the President of the Association of Writers and Artists Abroad.

Dr Vesna Goldsworthy, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, also well published and translated poet and author, winner of the literary prizes.

Susan Curtis-Kojaković, Chief Editor from Istros Books, experienced publisher who focuses on East European Literature and less known but high quality authors.

and the Results………………..

The winners in the Serbian language:

Overall First Prize: Nikola Čobić, London

Second Prize: Dajana Grujić, London

Third Prize: Dr Suzana Louth, Reading


The Winner of this categories poem Tobacco Tales, with Translation by the poet, Nikola Čobić.

Duvanske priče.IMG_0569

Mrtvački kovčeg komšije sa četvrtog sprata

Su danas izneli u dvorište

Iz stana u kojem su nekada rasli korov i deca.

Njegov pas, kralj okolnih ulica

Je cvileo pred stepeništem.


Taj čovek koji je ucrtavao

Golfsku struju na čelo,

Je umro sočno – od moždane kapi

Manje od mesec dana po penzionisanju

Zato što ga se ovaj svet zasitio.


Pozdravljao me je u liftu

Taj ljubitelj krupnih naslova u novinama

I izmišljenih priča o ratu

U kojem je lagao da je bio ranjen;

Taj doživotni čiviluk za mantil

Sa najlon kesom u ruci.


Nekada bi pričao sa štapom

Kao sa sinom koga se odrekao.

Sve što mu je pripadalo je

Brod u flaši i pepeo u lavabou.

Žvakao je duvan i smrdeo na osamu.


Nisam ga sažaljevao ni kada sam čuo

Da je dva dana grgotao na podu,

Samo sam se setio kako je

Nekoj deci izbušio loptu

Kojom su mu razbili prozor.


Na posletku, voleo sam ga iskreno,

Jer je bio deo mog odrastanja,

A umro je ne sanjajući da će ga svet,

Sa kojim je večito kuburio,

Održavati živog kroz duvanske priče.



Tobacco Tales

They brought the coffin with my 4th floor neighbour

Out into the yard today

From the flat where children

And weeds once grew.

His dog, the king of nearby streets,

Whined in front of the staircase.


That man who drew in

The Gulf current on his forehead,

Died neatly – of stroke

Less than a month after retiring

Because this world was fed up with him.


He used to greet me in the lift,

That admirer of large print headlines

And made up stories of war wounds

That lifelong coat hanger

With a nylon bag in his hand.


Sometimes he would talk to his walking stick

As to a son whom he disowned;

All that belonged to him were

Boat in a bottle and ashes in the sink.

He chewed tobacco and stank of seclusion.


I didn’t pity him even when I heard

That for two days he gurgled on the floor,

I only recalled how he

Punctured a ball with which

Some children broke his window.


In the end, I loved him truthfully

For he was a part of my growing up,

And yet he died, never dreaming that the world,

With which he eternally wrestled,

Will keep him alive in tobacco tales.



In the picture on the left is Susan Curtis-Kojaković, reading Nick Cobic’s poem Duvanske priče (Tobacco tales).


As the writers had the choice of whether to write in their mother-tongue or English, we have another category for those who chose to write in English - The Winners in the English Language category are


Overall First Prize: Miloš Jakovljević, London

Second Prize: Dajana Grujić, London


Here is the English language Winning poem,

written by Miloš Jakovljević.


Luncheon on the Grass by Milos Jakovljevic

The old drifter walks into plain view
and plants himself in the centre of the park
like a big brown lotus flower. The overflowing
of his bags, the colourful rags, his foot-long beard
and gravitational cigarette smoke
make for a comfy mobile swamp.
The sun adds a Manet twist to it
and I find myself ecstatic to be alive.
Entering a title into my memo on my Samsung
Galaxy Ace touch screen: 'The Lotus Man'.
Or rather: 'the lorus mab'.

Over the perky clip of the leather case of the Galaxy,
I see the man-flower is staring at me, and so I stare back.
He detects my pluck and drops a generous smile down his petal
like an over-sized sea-shell pearl. It rolls over the field
to my hipster shoes and I observe, geek glasses and all,
as it overbalances on green oil canvas like a white roulette ball.
Opening mouth and mesmerizing. Symbolizing...
Hovering tinsel.

Suddenly, a cloud shifts and the light dims
and there is a spotlight on my June Ewing (1926-2009) Loved this Park
throne-like bench. The pearl vanishes, the lotus closes like a flytrap
and the swamp compartmentalizes itself into one
biodegradable shield. Tap me on the shoulder
and make me drop a Galaxy. A ghostly sigh
played backwards.

It's June, in the middle of July.


There are few opportunities in Great Britain for poets from countries such as Serbia to showcase their poetry to the wider public, nor is there an annual public event at which poets and writers can meet, exchange experiences and get to know other poets from around the country. Events such as this would not only be inspirational, but would also bring people together via a greater understanding of their own culture, allowing the public a chance to familiarise themselves with new developments in poetry and to follow the emotional and creative journeys of their favourite poets. It would also create a platform to promote new and wonderful writers to individuals such as myself, who have little knowledge of this nation’s heritage, a chance to learn more and gain a greater understanding.IMG_0542

With this is mind, I offer my heartiest thanks to the promoters, poets & judges, for the honour bestowed on me, by allowing me my small place in this fantastic initiative and also my hope this this event goes forward and grows.

For further information about the poets, the copyrights or publishing the winning poetry, please contact

Vesna Petković Tel: 07801130806

or Olga Gaković Tel: 0208 740 4109






Brian Joseph said...

Congratulations to the winners!

Both of these are great poems. I really like Tobacco Tales. I found particularly interesting the very mixed reaction to the death.

Tom Cunliffe said...

Parrish - are you from the Balkans yourself? Were you actually at the event? I've never known an English writer be able to grapple so successfully with such a difficult subject - Serbian poetry

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Brian' was impressed myself with the poems here, although of the two the second was my favourite, will probably try & use the lines "The sun adds a Manet twist to it
and I find myself ecstatic to be alive." Sometime when the weather allows.

Hi Tom, No & No, but I knew someone who was & has such knowledge. One of the judges, Susan Curtis-Kojaković was the individual who interested me in this initiative & who kept me informed. The rest is a love of poetry (obsession) & a curiosity about works in translation.

Chad Hull said...

I always find it interesting to find writers to whom English is a second language and yet their primary or sometimes sole language for composition. I feel as if those writers 'see' English differently. Not necessarily better or worse just different.

I remember something Nabokov said about never being able to write Lolita in Russian. I liked the second of the two poems better myself. But both were very nice.

stujallen said...

stunningly beautiful poems ,all the best stu