Tanja Bakić

Photo credit to Maja Bakić

Tanja Bakić, born September 14, 1981 in Montenegro, is the author of four highly-praised poetry collections, her debut being published when she was only 15, and the last one, Sjeme i druge pjesme (The Seed and Other Poems), in 2013. She is also a translator, holds an MA in English language and literature, writes as a music and literary critic. She took part in a colloquium on William Blake in London’s Tate Britain gallery, and she also gave a poetry performance at the Tate. Her poems have been published in international anthologies, and she has been awarded fellowships several times, one of these being the Central European Initiative Fellowship for the year 2016, as well as British Modern Humanities Research Association Fellowship. She was twice selected by an international jury of art critics as the Montenegrin representative at the art biennial of Europe and the Mediterranean – in Ancona in 2013 and in Milan in 2015. She has contributed an aural component to a plant installation by Australian eco-designer, Tanja Beer, presented by Arts House in Melbourne in partnership with Cambridge Junction. Her best-selling music-related non-fiction work, “Voodoo Child: A Story About Jimi Hendrix” (“Voodoo Child: Priča o Jimiju Hendrixu”, 2013), revealing her collaboration with Jimi Hendrix’s former London-based girlfriend Kathy Etchingham and his sound engineer Roger Mayer (engineer) was deemed a huge success in Montenegro.

 

Posljednja crnogorska virdžina[1]

 

Tog avgustovskog jutra, kad se sunce

Tek uspelo na nebeski svod pomodrio od vođenja

ljubavi s morem

U toj zemlji što više nije mogla da bude njena

U tom gradu koji nikad nije ni bio njen

Tiho je zatvorila oči i usnula san zemlje.

 

Bila je lijepa, govorili su.

Još kao mlada. Talasasta smeđa kosa,

Ozareno lice, biserni osmijeh i pogled

Zarobljen u jednom trenutku mladosti

Kada se ona prerušila u ono što nikad nije ni bila

Da ne bi slušala zvuke zarobljenih suza

i glasove snova njezinog oca – snova koje

ona nije sanjala.

 

Bila je lijepa čak i kada su prolazile godine

Njene ukradene ljepote, ukradene prirode,

ukradene prošlosti.

Bila je lijepa, čak i kad se tog sumornog

popodneva ona

Odrekla svojih dalekih obala i mora

I zakoračila u snove svoga oca.

 

Gledala si svih ovih godina, draga Stano, tamo

Gdje se zvuk o svjetlost para, tamo gdje zemlja

postaje bijela, a krv uspavana.

Gledala si u život koji te mazio nije –

U težak poljski rad, u marljivo čuvanje

kuće i porodice,

U rano jutarnje nalaganje vatre,

u brižno čuvanje stoke,

U savjesno nošenje muške odjeće i frizure,

U nametnuto kafansko pušenjeduvana i

noćno druženje s muškima.

 

Tim licem s očima bez obale,

Tim očima zamrznutih suza,

Tajila si davno napravljeni krik,

Koji si kao odjek slušala svakoga jutra kada se probudiš

I pogledaš u okrutno zrcalo. Šta si još vidjela?

Boje svoje duše koje si ostavila cvijeću?

Svjetlost očiju svojih koje si dala zimskom vjetru?

Radost materinstva koje si ustupila pepelu?

 

Novi život ponovo si mogla imati

Nove snove ponovo si mogla sanjati

Kad god si ti to htjela. Ali nisi.

 

Pamtiš li sjaj noćnih svjetiljki što si ih palila

Kada bi u studene jesenje večeri tišina duše tvoje

Zaposjela bićem i postala glasnom, vrištala?

Da li ti se onda duša od samoće bijelila,

Da li si onda ukus ničije zemlje osjetila

U čiju te je igru uplelo korijenje samoće

Koje si ti sama odabrala?

 

Tog avgustovskog jutra kada se sunce

Rastajalo od tebe na moru koje si

tad vidjela prvi put,

I nebu, koje je bilo onakvo

kakvim ga nikad nisi sanjala,

I kad je promrzla zemlja milovala tvoje sklopljene oči,

Ja znam da si sanjala novi život i novu zemlju,

Vjerujući u pravo na izgubljenu sreću.

 

 

Neka druga rijeka[2]

 

Ima neka druga rijeka u ovoj rijeci

Koja počinje tamo gdje završava duga –

Zrake ničije ne prima,

Kišu ničiju ne uzima

Ničijim ne teče obalama.

A završava tamo

gdje počinje magla.

 

Ta druga rijeka mre i sni

tuđim snovima.

Tom drugom rijekom plove oni –

tamo gdje Mjesec krati niti svoje,

tamo gdje oči su koje oči tuđe draže,

tamo gdje ruke su koje ruke druge traže.

 

„Moramo poći“- tako su govorili,

„Živote da sagradimo nove“ – tako su govorili,

„Prošlost da zaboravimo“ – tako su govorili.

„Prodali smo auta, imanja i kuće“ – tako su govorili.

„Oprostili se od rođaka, oca, majke“ – tako su govorili.

„Ne znamo šta nas čeka, ali morali smo poći“ – tako su govorili.

 

Ovom rijekom čudnom oni su zaplovili,

Jer nemaju više sna,

Jer ruke su im pune kiša i oblaka,

A usta puna neprogutanih suza.

 

Ovom rijekom čudnom oni su zaplovili,

Jer prsti su im puni krhotina,

Jer jutra su im se u noći pretvorila,

A noći u dane bez svitanja.

Ovom čudnom rijekom oni su zaplovili

jer krici rana na zraku sunca su im ostali.

 

„Prodali smo sve. Bez ičeg smo ostali“ – tako su govorili.

„Nemamo ništa više osim nade

I zemlje nove“ – tako su govorili.

 

„Moja beba uskoro će se roditi“ – tako je govorila majka jedna,

„Vrlo brzo… na onoj tamo zemlji“.

 

Na svaki pređeni kilometar rijeke

raste kilometar nade.

Što više rijekom se plovi,

sve manje riječi se zbori.

 

Mislim da ova rijeka ne postoji

ni na jednojgeografskoj karti.

 

[1] Stana Cerović (1936-2016) rođena je u selu Tušina kod Šavnika, a umrla je u primorskom crnogorskom gradiću Risan u Domu za stare. U skladu sa starim crnogorskim običajima, ako kuća ostane bez muškog nasljednika, jedna od kćeri može da odabere da postane sin. Kao mlada, Stana je dala zavjet svome ocu da će ostati njegov „jedini preživjeli sin“ – da se neće udavati niti djecu rađati, i da će čuvati majku i sestre. Pred kraj života zbog bolesti su je prebacili u morski gradić Risan u Dom za stare.Njezinom smrću, 1. avgusta 2016. ovaj stari običaj je iščezao iz Crne Gore.

 

[2] Pjesma je posvećena velikim migracijama koje su zadesile Crnu Goru tokom 2015. godine, odakle su ljudi odlazili u zemlje EU, a najviše u Njemačku. Radi se o najvećem talasu migracija stanovništva nakon završetka rata u Jugoslaviji. Metafora za ove migracije pjesnički je i vizuelno dočarana oblikom rijeke.

The Last Sworn Virgin of Montenegro[1]

 

That August dawn, when the Sun

Had just risen into the firmament of the sky

bruised from making love to the sea

In that land which no longer could be hers

In that town which never had been hers

She quietly closed her eyes and dreamt a dream of the Earth.

 

Once she had been beautiful. That’s what they say.

When she was young. Wavy brown hair,

A radiant face, pearly smile and a gaze

Captured in one moment of her girlhood

When she dressed herself up into something that

she had never been

So as not to listen to the sounds

of her father’s captured tears

Nor the voices of his dreams – dreams

she did not dream.

 

She was beautiful even as the years passed by–

Years of her stolen beauty, of her stolen nature,

of her stolen past.

She was beautiful even when on that dismal

afternoon she

denied her distant shores and seas

and entered her father’s dreams.

 

All of those years, dear Stana, you looked where

The sound splinters the light, where the ground

Turns white, and the blood becomes sleepy.

You stared into a life which did not indulge you

Into hard work in the field, into tireless taking care

of home and family,

Into the early morning kindling of fire,

Into the careful tending of sheep,

Into the conscious wearing of men’s clothes and a man’s haircut,

Into the imposed tobacco smoking in taverns,

into the night-time hanging out with men.

 

With that face of shoreless eyes

With those eyes of frozen tears you have kept inside

the cry you let out long ago

Returning to you like an echo every morning when you wake up

And look at yourself in the cruel mirror. What else did you see?

The colours of your soul left to the flowers?

The light of your eyes you gifted to the winter wind?

The joy of motherhood you consigned to the ashes?

 

You could have had a new life again.

You could have dreamed new dreams again

Whenever you wished. But you never did.

 

Do you remember the light of the night candles you lit

When on late autumn evenings the stillness of your soul

Possessed your being, turning louder, screaming?

Was it then that your soul turned white from solitude,

Was it then that you felt the taste of no man’s land

In whoseplayful schemes you were ensnared

by the roots of lonesomeness

That you chose for yourself?

 

That August dawn as the Sun

Bid you goodbye on the sea

which you saw then for the first time

and in the sky, which appeared

as you had never dreamed it before,

and when the frozen ground beneath caressed your closed eyes,

I know you dreamt of a new life and a new land

Believing in your own right to that lost happiness.

 

 

Some Other River[2]

 

There is some other river within this river

Which begins where the rainbow ends –

Receiving nobody’s rays,

Taking nobody’s rain,

Flowing down nobody’s shores.

Ending over there where

The fog begins.

 

That other river dies and dreams

Other people’s dreams.

Along that river they sail –

where the Moon shortens his thread,

where eyes pursue somebody else’s eyes,

where hands seek somebody else’s hands.

 

“We must leave” – so they spoke,

“To build our new lives” – so they spoke,

“To forget our past” – so they spoke.

“We sold our cars, properties and houses” – so they spoke.

“We said farewell to our cousins, fathers, mothers” – so they spoke.

“We know not what awaits us out there,

but we had to go” – so they spoke.

 

They sail along that strange river,

Since they have no more dreams,

Since their hands are full of rain and clouds,

And their mouths full of unswallowed tears.

 

They sail along that strange river,

For their fingers are full of holes,

For their mornings have turned to nights,

And their nights to dawnless days.

They sail along that strange river,

For they are left with the screams of wounds from the sun’s rays.

 

“We sold everything. Now we have nothing” – so they spoke.

“Hope is the only thing we have now,

And the new land” – so they spoke.

 

“My baby will be born soon” – so one mother spoke,

“Very soonnow… in that new land.”

 

Every mile they passon the river

Isa mile of raisedhopes.

The more they sail along the river,

The less words they speak.

 

I think that this river does not exist

On any geographical map.

 

 

Translated into English by Peter Stonelake and the author

 

[1]StanaCerović (1936–2016) was born in the village of Tušina near Šavnik. She passed away in the small coastal town of Risan at a retirement home. According to Montenegrin patriarchal practice, if the head of a household dies without a male heir, one of his daughters can choose to become his son. At her early age, Stanavowed to her father that she would remain “his only surviving son” – she would never get married, nor have children, but she would take care of her mother and sisters. Due to her illness, towards the end of her life, she moved to the coastal town of Risan to a retirement home. With her death, on 1 August 2016, this archaic practice was extinguished from Montenegro.

 

[2] This poem is dedicated to the great wave of migration that occurred in 2015 in Montenegro, from where people moved to the EU, mainly to Germany. It was the greatest wave of migration that has happened since the Yugoslav wars. Both on a poetic and visual level, the metaphor for that migration is given in the poem in the form of the river.

 

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