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As with all the places that connect me with special people and H.R. Giger, I think I left a piece of my heart in Ljubljana. Reason to visit: Kurja Polt Genre Film Festival, where I had the utmost pleasure and honour to give a lecture on his art through a cognitive-linguistic lens, thus contributing to the homage to H.R. Giger on the second day of the festival, April 14.

plakat_FINAL_KP20161-726x1024How did it all came to be? Marco Witzig, curator and Giger collector (and my dear friend who has helped me tremendously with the corpus for my PhD thesis) put me in touch with the festival organizers in order to do something regarding their homage to H.R. Giger (which included the screening of the „Dark Star“ documentary, short films and music videos). In a matter of hours and some email exchange later – it was all set: I was to present a lecture under the title „H.R. Giger Alienscapes: The Secret Language of Biomechanics“, which is derived from my research so far. Suffice to say – I couldn’t sleep that night from the excitement!
Kurja Polt festival (appropriately named „Goosebumps“ in Slovenian) is run by some of the most talented and interesting people I ever had the opportunity to meet, spearheaded by the incredible Maša Peče (pictured above with me). From the first email, to our encounter on the day of the homage, to our parting (for now), there was a great amount of energy between us – two horror film enthusiasts and art lovers – that we basically hit it off from the get-go, and I cannot wait to see this fantastic lady again.

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Also, the rest of the Kurja Polt gang: Neža, Nika, Ondra, Kaja, Varja, Matevž from Kraken Short Film Festival, and all the others I’ve met (their professionalism and hospitality knows no boundaries), including other festival guests (Francois, Dolly and Bernd), made this an unforgettable experience in the alluring darkness of Kinoteka and Kinodvor cinemas.

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Yes, we went on a boat ride, too! Also, we were treated with great lunches, a ride with the funicular to the Ljubljana castle, along with many interesting activities in and around the venues. For example, after the screening of the Indian blockbuster „Baahubali: The Beginning“, the foyer of Kinodvor was filled with Indian-style snacks (including mushrooms with curry, mmm!); after the H.R. Giger day, Kinoteka was decorated with crushed ice fog (à la Debbie Harry’sNow I Know You Know“) and sangria; before the midnight screening of „I Spit On Your Grave“, encouragement in the form of whiskey shots was served at the entrance.
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As for my lecture, I was incredibly happy and honoured to have so many people in the audience, considering that it was mostly from an academic point of view and that it wasn’t so interactive. After the lecture, I had many visitors coming to me and complimenting me for the insight into the visual metaphors and metonymies in Giger’s art (including a colleague who is doing a Master’s thesis in linguistics at the moment), and I even had a pleasant conversation with students (I believe from performing arts, who were doing a workshop in film criticism) and their professor, on the allure of Giger’s creations.
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My dear friend Claudia was also there with me, making this a complete travel! We had such fun with this trailer (and kept quoting things like „Why haven’t you checked the children?“, or „Oh, really? Did she like it?“) throughout the festival and later as well:

My love for „Suspiria“ was ignited again after finally seeing the film in all its glory on the silver screen (and the soundtrack is a masterpiece which I must own on vinyl too), and we discovered some gems like „La Morte Vivante“ and the original „When A Stranger Calls“.
Kurja Polt Genre Film Festival is a horror film fan’s dream come true, and next year this fantastic event will probably see me as a visitor. Ljubljana is a lovely city, filled with vegan restaurants and friendly people, that I simply cannot wait for April 2017 to come and to see what Maša & Co. have in store for the next edition.
Thank you, Kurja Polt!
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www.kurjapolt.org
Photos courtesy of Matjaž Rušt/Kurja Polt

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/Impressions taken from the promotion of “Memento Amores”/
A Night Of Poetry“, which was the official title of the promotion, was a delightful way to name the special premiere of my second poetry collection “Memento Amores“, and everyone who attended, hopefully, has satisfied their poetic appetites. The promotion happened on October 30th, 2014 (Devil’s Night, of course) at 19h, in the cozy atmosphere of American Corner in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina (in the building of the Cantonal and University Library). Attendees: my students, colleagues, poetry lovers from Bihać, friends and family.
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For this book I wanted a real journey to the past – hence the record player you see on some of the photos below – we opened the night with a nod to the 80’s (Sisters of Mercy and The Cult), and the promotion itself was accompanied by a plethora of melancholic visuals on screen and the wonderfully eerie melodies of the “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” OST, which is my favourite film soundtrack ever. The closing ceremony was King’s (a lil’ bit of “Jailhouse Rock” and “Love Me Tender” for all the Elvis Presley fans out there)!
And now – to the night itself. I had the great honour and pleasure to have all my three reviewers there for the premiere – my dearest buddy Nizama Muhamedagić and Aurelija Karajić both talked about their unique visions of the book, while Fikreta Muslić gave her passionate impressions in Bosnian. My dear students Arnela Raković, Senita Jusić and Alija Mujanović read the selected poems with their wonderful voices (“Primavera“, “Silence Of A Lover“, “Remembrance Of A Kiss“…), and I cannot describe how proud I felt listening to them and seeing how much this night meant to them too. 058The night of poetry was further enriched by the siren’s voice of Nermina Imerovska, who lead us all through the journey of past loves and whose words we will remember for years to come… Lastly, it was my turn to say a few words to my audience, and I hope that I haven’t forgotten anybody in my thank-yous – if I have, please forgive me. The surreal feeling of the entire night was at the same time enchanting and utterly out of this world, and I only wish that my verses somehow arrived at the gates of Heaven where H.R. Giger now resides, like small gifts carried by the autumn wind.
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Speaking of gifts – I got pleasantly surprised by my family, friends and colleagues with a bunch of bouquets (in all my colours) and presents! I don’t think I could ever thank them all for everything they’ve given me, but here’s a shot: I wish to thank my mom Hajrija and my uncle Hajrudin (also a prolific author) for supporting me in all my academic and artistic endeavours, to Mr. Leslie Barany, Giger’s agent, Mr. Tom Gabriel Fischer and Mr. Matthias Belz for the incredible gift of “Shaft No. 7” on the cover, to Ljiljana Krupić, professor of Latin, for the green light on the title, to my dad Muhamed and my sister Sarah for sharing this evening with me, to my dear friends Nizama, Nermina (and the Book Promotion Society “Liber“, which she currently runs), Aurelija, Fikreta, Rialda, Veldina (who is also a poetess, as well as Fikreta), my dear colleagues Jasmina Tevšić, Alma Žerić, Alma Huskić, Dragana Šenda, Mersina Šehić, to the dean of the Pedagogical Faculty Nijaz Skender, to my dear Mirela Midžić for giving us the perfect venue and full support, to the Head of the Cantonal and University Library Ratko Knežević, to RTVUSK, ac 2and last but not least, to my nightingales Arnela, Alija and Senita, as well as all my students (past and present) and everyone there who came to listen to my poetry and hopefully, were uplifted by the aesthetic aspirations written down for my muse far, far away…
As mentioned, below you can see the full gallery, as well as links to an article & TV piece about the night (for the video, scroll down to “DNEVNIK 31.10.2014.” – the piece starts at 29′). There will also be an extended article tonight at 21h in the show “Kultura” on the same channel – tune in if you have it!
More info on the official release date of the book (both the regular and deluxe edition) + Amazon links soon!

PROMOCIJE – SVESTRANA ILHANA ŠKRGIĆ

http://www.rtvusk.ba/vteka/emisije

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Sep

Love and Lights

   Posted by: CursedPoet Tags: , , , , , ,

U2labcoat1Life moves in mysterious ways. What started out as an acquaintance over mutual love for one of the biggest bands in the world quickly grew into collaboration on a very cool project, and one email after another, I can now say that I’m positively amazed by the light that is my friend James!
The band in question is U2. Those who know me personally also know that this is one of the first bands I started listening to (back in 1989), and that my first concert ever was the one U2 held on their PopMart tour in Sarajevo in 1997. Now on to something you might not have known before: after my musings on U2.com, James responded to my writing and upon him introducing me to his awesome project of a “lab coat around the world”, I was interested to know more and participate. Yes, it was actually a real lab coat signed and decorated by U2 fans across the globe (along with many gifts, DVDs and many other thingies)! Plenty of white surface to cover, but, by the time it reached me, it was already pleasantly colourful! U2labcoat2So, I do the “obligatory” photo session in the lab coat after putting my own touch on it, end up on a blog site of like-minded people and James’ friends – and then we started talking more and more, often about personal things as well. James then confessed to being a poetry lover like me, and even sent me a lovely book of poems from 1927! U2poems1Good thing the book reached me, because it said on the package that the post actually missent it to TaiPei (I still don’t know how TaiPei might sound like B&H, but nevermind). But that’s not all – about two weeks ago, he finally shared his own poetry with me – and the inspiration was none other than moi! I’m still amazed and still blushing from this incredible gift. In turn, I wanted to share his wonderful verses with you, dear readers, wishing for you to remember that there are extraordinary people out there, and friendships that are worth gold. Thank you, James, for this poem and your friendship! We’ll meet on a U2 concert soon for sure!

Love and Lights
(for Ilhana)

Daylight hours host the mundane and cliché
Quiet humdrum beat of the quest for pay
Lines of masses arranged in single file
Driving with glazed looks , mile after mind-numbing mile
Conforming
Resigning to boring
Comfortable and unbothered they seek to remain
Choosing feeling nothing over feeling any pain
Dreams of youth thus traded
For lukewarm nothing and mediocrity
Capalist façade of consumerism, slowly molding the insane

I met a girl in the darkness, born of star-filled night
Poetry and art flowing through her veins
Emitting the majesty of a raven in flight
Believes not in umbrellas, wants to feel the sensational rain
Wishing upon others “love and lights”
Light only needed where light doesn’t exist
She’s seen the most horrible evils man has to offer
She kept love alive on the precipice of war torn abyss
“dreaming out loud“ becomes her
She sculpts words into masterful form
Not interested in what others see as “normal “
She has darkness, peace, goodwill and love and lights to keep her warm
She has a name others might find ”hard to spell“
But its an honor to be able to see
A wordsmith of inspirational magnitude
Yet as sweet as a person can be
When shall I meet her?
I often wonder up in my mind
This lovely, starlit, intense child of the darkest night
Perhaps one day, perhaps never
The future might not get it right
But she will always be a brilliantly luminous inspiration
This dark girl full of love and full of light

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Last month my dear colleague Nizama and I had the honour of presenting our work to English teachers from the Una-Sana Canton at the “ELT Mini Conference: Linguistic Approach to Teaching” in Bihać. Organised by TETA and American Corner Bihać, this one-day seminar was the perfect opportunity to share the knowledge with fellow English teachers – and so much fun to do! The photo above shows us all against the wonderful Una backdrop, and I think the only one who’s missing is the lovely Mirela Midžić from the AC – thank you for everything, especially the “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” (she knew I love Stephen King because my students come to her to loan his books XD)! Also, big kudos to colleagues Elma and Edin, as well as everyone who came that day to our mini conference.

In case you were wondering, Nizama and I recently did a research on teaching phrasal verbs using conceptual domains – fascinating stuff!

Here’s us at the beginning of our presentation:

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This wasn’t the only such event in the past few months – there was also the amazing IATEFL Conference in Slovenia, then a couple of school seminars in Teslić and Sarajevo, and right now I’m preparing for the 4th International FLTAL Conference in Sarajevo next week (presenting a paper on metaphors in politics – wish me luck!)

Some visuals from Slovenia (with Nizama, Lisa, Elma, and Danka):

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Soon I will also have news on my second book. Until then:

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Dear readers,

some of you may know how much I 16.2.2008 8_00_13love animals. Ever since I was a baby, really, I’ve been enjoying their unconditional love and company and I’ve tried to return these wonderful gifts as much as I could (here’s me with a cat my mom saved from death when he was only six days old and left all alone).

I owe this love to my family, who’s been dedicated to helping animals for the better part of the 20th century. Even my great-grandfather, who was a Muslim priest, loved animals, especially cats, and paid extra attention to whom he would give kittens to – only people with cows and sheep, who could, therefore, provide milk and other food to the little ones (and that was about a hundred years ago at least). Looking back at the path I’ve taken in my life so far, it has been filled with animals and much effort to improve the state of their welfare here in my town and elsewhere.

with_Barky_01This was the reason why my colleague Mevlija, my uncle Hajrudin and I founded the Animal Protection Society “Warm Paw” in Velika Kladuša. Now, more than two year later, we can also look behind and marvel at what we’ve accomplished so far, with the help of like-minded people here: our colleagues, friends, volunteers. But this is just the beginning.

Yesterday I received news which brought me immense joy and now I am spreading it, proud and humbled at the same time by the honour bestowed upon me: I have become the World Animal Day Ambassador for Bosnia and Herzegovina! Here you can read the entry at the official website of the World Animal Day initiative at:

http://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/ambassadors/bosnia-herzegovina/

Here’s the news on the official website of Warm Paw.

I will do everything in my power to fulfill my duties as a World Animal Day ambassador and strive further to raise awareness on animal rights. I’m so honoured by this title and happy to be a part of such extraordinary team of animal advocates around the world!