BUTCHERS

DRAGO GLAMUZINA

Naklada MD, 2001, 64 pages
English translation available

Translation rights sold: Germany (Wieser Verlag, Klagenfurt, 2008.), Macedonia (Makedonska reč, Skopje, 2008.), Slovenia (Litera, Maribor, 2001), Serbia (Naklada Profil, Belgrade 2008.)

This collection of poems presents the reader with that part of male-female relations we could, in line with the title of the collection, without hesitation call butchering, a mutual tattoo, a fight for the right of the voice of the Other.
This is a narrative poetry that will appeal to the readers of Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Anais Nin or Raymond Carver.

The book is based on a precise statement of the speaker, who determines himself against his Argonautic explorer nature and desire “to be calm”. Brought in to the stage of events and surprised by its existing state, the participants meet in almost classical situations that authenticate the story of the body – the body and its passions and fears, its desire and newfound secrets; the body exposed, disturbed, interlaced with scars “given” to men and women. But Glamuzina is a sensitive reader of the state of language, he controls the journey to the world of his intimacy; the investment of his own skin in the text and its exposure to the face of the world are timed and given in a balance of sexuality and eroticism, privacy and publicity, melancholy and complacence. However, the most beautiful part of the Butchers is the one that doesn’t succumb to direct intervention of the critic or the reader: through a remarkable poetic intonation and a provocative thematic inventory, this collection of poems persists in the quest for lashes of invisible fins through the Universe, through literature, films, through unspeakable music of the spheres.

Butchers  won the most prestigious national award Vladimir Nazor for Book of the Year and the Kvirin Prize for the Best Book of Poetry and is one of the most important collection of modern Croatian poetry.

A rarely valuable book

Glamuzina aims to enchant the reader by layering aggressive and discreet provocations on at least three levels: the declarative, textual, and contextual level. Every passage from one level onto the other regularly breaks the just given promise and offers a new one, molding the book into an attractive, but hardly exhaustive verbal item. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] On a declarative level, the poet intercepts us with the title – Butchers. One would say: crude, “unpoetic”, provocative… And bold, I would add. The literal reading of the collection finds motivation for it only in the final text, in which the sound of butchers’ axes becomes an indispensable element of the urban landscape the lyrical hero is plunged in. A hermetical reading, however, recognizes the echoes of this title in the type of experience observed by Glamuzina, in the tone in which he does it, and in the expressions of the sensitivity of his subject. The first commentators of the collection have already recognized the “butchers” as a global metaphor. Miroslav Mićanović spoke of the “investment of his own skin in the text and its exposure to the face of the world”, whereas Slaven Jurić mentioned praising the “cannibalistic character of human relations” in verse, suggested, among other things, “by details from the grim daily life of the 1990s”. On the textual level, we find a love story refined by a line of unselfconscious literary associations. Those that stand out are appeals to H. Miller, Bukowski, Anais Nin or Carver since they can be understood as the auto-poetic awareness of one’s own writing. Love andjealousy through a clash of one body against another become the origins of speaking about life and the world in general. Glamuzina’s act of switching the idyllic love couple with a dramatic love triangle ignites the lyrical narration that spreads in different directions. He, like the most in his generation, focuses on the fragments of a personal story, realizing successful textual figures and avoiding the trap of the mere versifying of banalities and critical versing of an individual chronicle. The secret is in his reaching for vivid, graphic fragments that are not necessarily determined in time and space. The lyrical story finally transforms into the struggle between the private and the public sphere. Although it is dominated by privacy, seduction and (mis)understanding are two-sided. Even more, both sides equally contribute to the personalization of the subject of the book. We finally arrive at the contextual level. Here, the Butchers again confirm its polyvalent nature. On the one hand (in motives, narrative nature, the narcissism of the subject, the immediate spoken idiom…), they fit completely in the current trends of the youngest poetry, whereas, on the other hand, they maintain distance through an eclectic mix of heterogeneous styles. The author himself emphasizes that his poems have been borne out of doubt for every pretentious program, “whether it is social or poetic”. With great precision, he singled out one of the important features of his writing: “The emotions in my book are elevated, the irrational vortex is strong, but the speech of it is cold, ironic, often almost evidential, while the metaphors and similes have been reduced to the  maximum or even eliminated completely.” Glamuzina’s lyrical experience and idiom approach the lyrical experiences and idioms that have originated in the last fifteen years in both a friendly and restrained manner. His “butchers” often cut at the most sensitive spots. The reader is a witness of the origin of the wound and its healing into a scar. In short: a rarely valuable and well-rounded book.

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Krešimir Bagić, 14 March, 2001

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