Feedback by Ivan Hristov for the International Poetry Festival in Kosovo, 2017, 3rd Edition

KOSOVO – A CONFESSION OF LOVE

 

 

First impressions. The invitation. I remember. The war. It was very close. I was a student. The first years. I was filled with expectations of a new beginning. I wanted to study, to write, to make love, and war was breaking out everywhere close around me. Back then we didn’t know exactly what was going on. We heard the thundering of the bombs. One bomb fell on a house on the outskirts of Sofia. We were all very scared. We wanted the war to end quickly… But I felt the true power of the war years later, when for the first time I heard a couplet by Adisa Bashich, a poetess from Bosnia:

 

WAR

Before I was a lawyer,

now I’m a victim…

 

And now I had to set out for that place, where the memory of war was still burning in my consciousness. But I went. I checked where Kosovo was on the map. I looked into whether Kosovo was recognized as a state by Bulgaria. Kosovo is very close to Bulgaria, but it’s as if I didn’t know anything about that place. How important are these lapses here in the Balkans? But I did know Fahredin. I did it because of Fahredin Shehu.

I met Fahredin at a poetry festival in France. After one of our readings we were invited to lunch at the villa of a retired American couple. It turns out that the man was of Albanian descent. Fahredin was invited because he is from Kosovo, while I was invited because I had written poems about America. What foundations for intimacy… Fahredin’s gentle attitude towards everything immediately made an impression on me, as did his ability to quickly delve into even the most hidden details… And later, after six whole years – an invitation to the International Poetry Festival in Rahovec, Kosovo. I had almost finished my latest collection of love poems, yet I needed to visit a place that was connected to war in my mind. Fear and love were struggling within me. Everywhere in Kosovo I sought out signs of the war, yet I encountered gestures of love. I met wonderful poets, who immediately became friends. And during our trip to Prizren, while through the window of the bus the beautiful landscapes of sweeping vineyards arranged like mass graves, or mass graves arranged like vineyards passed by, I noticed that the driver had tattooed his father’s face on his shoulder.

One of the most moving moments for me was when I had to read my new poem “Jasmine.” It ends like this:

Mercy

A confession of love

Cleopatra

Goes to meet

Mark Antony

In a boat

whose sails are covered in jasmine

 

KOSOVO, LET US CHANGE BLOOD FOR WINE

AND TO MIX WAR WITH LOVE!

Ivan Hristov

 

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