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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

24
Sep

Yesterday…

   Posted by: CursedPoet Tags: , , , , ,

the 23rd anniversary of the U2 show in Sarajevo in 1997. Here’s what I wrote eight years ago for Venia-Mag to commemorate that momentous occasion:

U2 IN BOSNIA – „VIVA SARAJEVO“ – 15 YEARS LATER

Has it really been 15 years since that monumental event, a show, no less, that U2 performed for us on Koševo stadium in Sarajevo, literally minutes after the war ended? Why, yes, yes it has. Full fifteen years. I get shivers down my spine whenever I remember that night. It’s not even the reason that kept me away from writing about this often, it’s the intensity of feelings that overwhelm and threaten to burst through the walls we’ve all built to get through the war, years later – but I owe it to my country to write about this incredible night again and again, and I owe it to U2 and all their fans here to show them just how much it meant – this one, single display of humanity, of music. So, here I go, and don’t hold it against me if I get lost in thoughts, haunted by the slow melody of „Miss Sarajevo“.
I was 14 back then, just fresh out of elementary school and weeks into gymnasium, unaware of how high school and life was supposed to look like, because nothing looked normal then. War-town country, war-torn childhood, people who used to walk before, now on their crutches, others dead, pavements chopped up by grenades, empty homes looking like Swiss cheese from all the holes in them, everything as in a nightmare – slowly emerging from one that lasted for four years. One of the few nice moments I treasure from that time is that of an autumn morning on the town square, decorated with a simple poster announcing the U2 concert in Sarajevo, on September 23rd, 1997. This image is so vivid in my mind – simple yellow letters on a black background, glued on a piece of carton. Announcing what was to be one of the most significant music experiences in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, U2, the world.
Have I also mentioned that U2 was my favourite band back then? That was love that went way back (1989), but that’s a different story. For now, it will suffice to say that I was among the first ones to buy the ticket in our post office (where else? nothing else worked), and couldn’t wait for the day to come. I remember traveling on a bus full of my school mates, professors, all excited and cheerful, whispering when we were crossing the dreaded part of the territory still occupied by Serbian chetniks, the whole bus in total darkness, because we were less visible for possible snipers. No one didn’t even think about this danger, really, because everyone just couldn’t wait to get to Sarajevo. I remember us arriving near the Town Hall (Vijećnica) – before the place where millions of books found their home, now a burnt shell of its former self, standing sadly over the river Miljacka. I remember us walking to the Koševo stadium, thousands of still fresh graves following us silently on the left side, because people didn’t have place anymore to bury their loved ones.
When we arrived at the venue, I separated from the others in my group, because I was the only one with the field ticket, while others had the stands – but that didn’t cause my concern, since the only place for me was right in front of the PopMart stage. I was 14, this was my first show ever, and of my favourite band, I was free and felt that live concert thrill my peers around the world took for granted – I’d go to the moon if need be! I even bought my first band T-shirt right then – a nice, although 5 sizes too big PopMart classic – a merchandise item I still have with me today. I even vaguely remember some of the „concert-buddies“ I met that night, ordinary young people who were around me – especially a very nice guy who let me copy his stamp to get to the „fanpit“ (mind you, at first I didn’t even know why they secluded an area right next to the stage – the whole concept of that was new to me, but sure as hell, I was in there).
And then – the show. Fifteen years have passed from that night, and I can still remember how the stage looked like – which doesn’t say much about my memory, since it was truly unforgettable, from the lemon to the toothpick and the giant LCD display. But more than that, I remember the feeling of that show. Whoever says music cannot change the world hasn’t been there in Sarajevo, when everything seemed to finally be great, when we finally rejoiced the loud noise of guitars, instead of bombs, when we saw one of the best bands in the world dedicate a night solely to us. The fans – all 45,000 of us – got more than just great songs played live, we got a night like any other fan in Italy, USA, England, Germany or elsewhere enjoyed, but even more than that – man, we finally got the feeling of BEING ALRIGHT. Of peace. Of safety. Of joy. Of excitement. On top of that, U2 spiced up the show with so many memorable performances and guests (Brian Eno on „Miss Sarajevo“, for example), that it was all a big bundle of vivid moments almost impossible to take all in in one night. Did you know that Bono first coined the slogan for 360° tour right there, when he shouted „Viva Sarajevo“! Fuck the past, kiss the future!“? We sang for Bono when he lost his voice and couldn’t sing anymore, we greeted loudly the new tracks, even though we didn’t know them well, we laughed, we jumped, we sang. From „MoFo“ to „One“. And when Bono came right in front of me to sing „Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me“ (you guess right – my fave track back then), I couldn’t wish for anything else. I was happy beyond words and forever infected by that concert-goer bug.
When the show ended, did these feelings also end for us? Did we kiss the future, but not strongly enough? I am tempted to say yes. Fifteen years later, we’re still in a torn country, only this time politically – and the world still doesn’t seem to care less about us. Poverty is abundant, holes still gape from the faces of ruined homes, people were in an EU-prison less than two years ago, when they were not able to travel anywhere without a visa on their blue passports. No one else visited Bosnia after the war, except some DJs and washed-up rockers. Music (good one, that is), is scarce, and that feeling of happiness it’s supposed to provoke is even scarcer. Even the media kept dwelling around the negative things, since there were so many, I guess. On one September 23rd, several years after the concert (was it 2? 5? I can’t recall), I was watching the primetime news, fully expecting to see a piece on this show, instead being utterly disappointed – they forgot about it! Or, more likely, they were oblivious of the importance of this show! Whatever it was, it was also one of the reasons why I went on to study journalism and create something significant, aware of my surroundings, but even more aware of the impact of art on the world.
However, whenever I’m tempted to go down that nihilistic road, I am reminded of everything good that happened since 1997. This night was not only a highlight for Bosnia – it was a highlight for U2 as well. Larry Mullen, Jr. said: “[t]here’s no doubt that that is an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. And if I had to spend 20 years in the band just to play that show, […] I think it would have been worthwhile.“ Bono and the rest of the gang were also emotional about the night, often mentioning it in their interviews. U2, especially Bono, went on to visit Bosnia after the concert, and that spiritual connection between us is alive even today, among us also present at the two unforgettable nights in Zagreb in 2009, holding signs with „Sarajevo“ and „BiH“ on it (for more on that, check our my review of the two shows). Even some media remembered the event and honoured its 15th anniversary, such as Radio Sarajevo and various net portals. Sarajevo Film Festival is one of the bright lights emanating from this country to the world, we’re not on the black list anymore, able to travel across European countries, tourism and everything else is slowly back on track. All that and more only with the help of people like Bill Carter (a humanitarian worker who made U2 aware of the suffering here, back in 1993), U2 themselves and others willing to help us get back on that road everyone else is traveling. Let it be known – not a single politician today has done more even after four years of „service“ (better say, disservice) for the Bosnian people than U2 have done in that one night – few hours, really. This is the ultimate truth, and one that needs to be told in the future too. Four simple guys who brought peace with one voice, two guitars and a drum.
Now, fifteen years later, we all still carry our war scars, some outside, some inside, but „…only love can heal such a scar…“ Love and music. Thank you once more, Bono, Larry, Adam and Edge, for this unforgettable night. You said it was a gift from us to you, but it was also vice versa. We will never forget our U2 PoPMart gift on September 23rd, 1997.
To all the readers, please, take a moment, watch these videos and remember Sarajevo, remember Foča, remember Srebrenica, remember Bosnia – remember Vukovar, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, remember Croatia. Never forget. Kiss the future!
By: Ilhana Škrgić
(videos and the article appearing on www.Venia-Mag.net)

Dear readers,
finally a new travelogue! From Switzerland no less! Read & enjoy the photos right here (note that the Bosnian translation will follow very soon).
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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

pozivnica_vecer_ANightofPoetry

15
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

4
Jan

Schacht VII

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

hr_giger_schacht_VII

Who is she? Is she a mirage? Where is she from? Where is she? H.R. Giger, her creator, answers one of these questions in “Necronomicon I“, where he explains the origins of his Schacht series, stemming from his dreams and vivid imagination involving a basement in his family house in Chur, that was basically connected to an underground network of tunnels (subsequently closed due to danger of collapse).

Ever since I first saw this painting (its reproduction), there was something that drew me to it. To Her. Then I finally saw Her, the original, at the entrance to the first floor of the Giger museum in Gruyères, Switzerland. Even with all the Aliens around, these perfect beings, Schacht VII spoke to me. Her haunting beauty never left my mind, my thoughts. So, I came back home and wrote about my travels, frequently including Her in my writing.

And then, an idea in my mind… and an amazing contact with Giger’s agent, Mr. Leslie Barany, which made the past year truly magnificent for me. Now She is also the cover for my second collection of poetry, out in spring 2014. I wish to thank once again Mr. Barany, as well as my favourite artist, Mr. H.R. Giger, for this incredible honour. I do not walk on Earth like other mortals. Now I am where She is. I am She.

www.hrgiger.com

21
Sep

Happy Birthday, Sai King!

   Posted by: CursedPoet Tags: ,

Those who are in love with the “Dark Tower” as I am will know why the particular word in the title. To others I can only recommend his magnum opus, pure perfection in the form of eight books and immensely intriguing characters, Roland Deschain in particular.

Dear Mr. King, a very happy birthday from your Constant Reader in Bosnia and Herzegovina! This is but a part of my treasure (other jewels are on loan) – including the Dark Tower comic book case I won over at Lilja’s Library several years ago:

Constant_Reader_Library_01

And my personal treasure – signed copy of “11/22/63” just for me!!!

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18
Apr

“The Only Way To Soothe My Soul…”

   Posted by: CursedPoet

za_index_1 Always fascinated with the passage of time, I marked another milestone five months ago (almost to the day, hence my writing) – as you may have seen from my revised biography, I’m a doctoral student as of November 2012! I’m currently attending the Doctoral studies in Linguistics at the Faculty of Philosophy, University J. J. Strossmayer in Osijek, Croatia. It didn’t take me long to get back into this “comfortable” role (less than a year after I finished the Master studies), but I ascribe that to the general notion that rules my thoughts which is: “if you’re not going forward, you’re stagnating”. Good old Oscar Wilde would put it: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated“. So far, I’m more than impressed with the quality of the programme and I’ve gained seven new colleagues, to whom I give my best regards. Accepting this new challenge, I found myself invigorated by the overwhelming amount of new knowledge and I felt that Yeats’ fire rekindled inside! This is truly the only path for me, the only way to soothe my soul... Recently I passed two exams (collecting As again!), so basically I still got the mojo (couldn’t resist this sentence)! This is also the reason why I’m not posting as I’d like to (or as someone dear has said to me recently “your neglected website”), but I’ll find time here and there to put some new travelogues up (Bratislava and Vienna, respectively), as well as some photo galleries from journeys past (btw, the photo on the left was taken for my student report card – tried to project a bit of Princess Leia and Jesse, the clever librarian because of a bad hair day). New verses are not forgotten, only carelessly hidden inside my journals until it’s time for them to be published – speaking of, I’ve got the title of my next book down to two possible choices – exciting times! Until then, be well and enjoy my music picks of the year so far (looking forward to their summer shows!):

I got an interesting mail recently. Two actually. A text in the first one, an explanation in the second. Our family friend Izet Duranović, after a recent visit to Kladuša, took my book over to the endless horizons of the US, which then encountered a great name in journalism and poetry  – Mugdim Karabeg. As Izet himself says about him – and these words are scorched in my memory:   “They say about him that he’s ‘the best journalist among poets and the best poet among journalists’. He’s the grandson of Šantić’s Emina – his mother is Emina’s daughter. He was the editor of Oslobođenje for a number of years and correspondent from the Middle East, as well as professor on faculties. He’s an honest, delightful journalistic, poetic and human soul.”

Therefore, I share with you his view on my book, as I’m left to offer my sincere gratitude to Mr Karabeg – and continue to be honoured up to the moment where I cannot even describe it with this little curly tools I use to weave the fabric of my reality – words, verses…

˝THANATONAUT˝ POETRY BY ILHANA ŠKRGIĆ

The first of poetry by ILHANA ŠKRGIĆ is a thick veil over the mysteries of life, seen and unseen from a special corner of the poet.
There is nothing in her lines that conveys immediately understandable and acceptable logic of life and death, love and hate, understanding and misunderstanding. Even to these terms themselves that denote life phenomena she gives names that are not easily connected to their roots, they are foreseen from a distance, which the reader needs to understand as the filed of one’s own associations connected with this poetics. But in that labyrinth of controversy, contrast which simultaneously neutralise and complete each other, there is a “red line” of commitment and truth of the poet’s experience, which the reader will understand in some way or another, left deep in questions and thoughts over the messages of these poetic verses. There lies the value of Ilhana’s writing: putting into the foreground man’s eternal questioning over the phenomena of this wondrous human existence, its multiple psychology that accepts and refuses truths and lies at the same time , seeking the non-existent ‘eternal truth’. This is left to those who delve into these lines to bring their own impressions and conclusions to the table and it seems to me that the poetic philosophy of this poet encompasses the personal psychology of living between the eternal Shakespearean dilemma “to be or not to be” under the veil of different emotions.
For example, the poem of acknowledging love:

And I shall breathe, I breathe, I breathed
For you only
The world is your altar
And everything gleamed by the sun and covered in darkness is a sacrifice to you.

I ja ću disati, dišem, disah
Samo za tebe
Svijet je tvoj oltar
A sve obasjano suncem i pokriveno tamom žrtva je tebi.˝)

In these lines of the poem “And I’m the book of you then” (˝I ja sam knjiga tebe tad˝) there is no poetic dilemma about what she chooses. Love, only love, which she “breaths, breathed” then.
Right after this one, the poem “The Veil Of Illusion” (˝Koprena iluzije˝) as if it denies the truth of the positive emotion and conviction in the previous one. Because it says:

The veil of illusion takes my breath away
And what are you to me than a welcome guest
While the winds chase time with their whips
Somewhere far away
Outside of this chamber
And with only a silent delusion announce
Another visit
You always leave sooner than they do
Inconsistent and untouchable like those readers
Of eternity
Am I loved by an illusion?

Koprena iluzije mi otima zrak
A šta si mi ti nego dobrodošao gost
Dok vjetrovi tjeraju vrijeme svojim bičevima
Negdje daleko
Izvan ove odaje
I samo tihim zavaravanjem najavljuju
Ponovnu posjetu
Uvijek odlaziš brže nego oni
Nestalan i neopipljiv poput tih jahača
Vječnosti,
Zar me voli iluzija?˝)

This is a counterpoint to the saying from the previous poem, where it says:

“The world is your altar
And everything gleamed by the sun and covered in darkness is a sacrifice to you.”

(˝Svijet je tvoj oltar
A sve obasjano suncem i pokriveno tamom žrtva je tebi.˝)

Ilhana’s verses flow in this riddle it is but at the same time it isn’t – the duality which shapes the form and fills the content into human psyche and emotions. On each letter, the reader stumbles over these dilemmas and secrets covered in deep veils of poetic imaginations. These enigmas will be discovered by readers of higher education and developed analytical intelligence, as well as delving deep into the spirituality of man and people in general. Therefore, I conclude that this poetry is not “for the average reader”, because it demands intellectual effort and readiness to be deciphered and with it its true value to be discovered. In any case, the first book by Ilhana Škrgić shows that she needs to continue with her creative work, with a pause on each verse, which should be a bit more understandable and a little less enigmatic, which will not devalue the poetics.

Mugdim Karabeg

Fifteen years ago, I was standing inside the Koševo stadium in Sarajevo, singing loudly, along with the rest of the audience – on a show that was to be one of the highlights not only of my life, but of my country and U2 – too. See, these four Irishmen came and played the hell out of their instruments (and themselves, Bono lost his voice during the show) for their Bosnian fans. And I was there! Today, we in Bosnia remembered the event, including many portals and media throughout the country, which makes me content. I contributed with my own piece on Venia-Mag portal, which you can read here, and after you, hopefully, read it, you can join me and watch the entire show below – and don’t forget Bono’s piece of wisdom – fuck the past, kiss the future! ^^


Watch U2 Live From Sarajevo Popmart Tour 23.09.1997 in Music | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com