The Confession Book: Vlada Urošević

/ by Noah Charney

What’s your name?

In literature it is Vlada Urosevic. In my official documents, I am Vladimir, but in the time of my early childhood there was one man in the neighborhood who people called “crazy Vladimir” and with whom my close ones were not in good relations. Because of that my name was cut to Vlada.


Where were you born?

I was born in Skopje (Republic of Macedonia). At the beginning of the Second World War, my family was deported from Skopje. The cause was eternal national and nationalistic misunderstandings.


Where do you live now?

I came back to Skopje after the Second World War, and have lived there since 1947.


What is your profession (in addition to poetry)?

When I was young, I worked in movie production, and also as a TV and newspaper journalist. When certain democratization came, after 1980, I was invited to teach at the university. I finished my working career as eminent professor at the department of comparative literature. Despite my retirement, I sometimes have lectures there.


What was your earliest encounter with poetry?

In the early childhood, I didn’t like poems for children – I thought that they were stupid. I think, when I was 8 years old, I read that horrible poem by Goethe, “King of Alders.” I was horrified by the darkness which was coming out of the poem, but at the same time, I was fascinated by it.


Please recommend a “must-read” book by one of your countrymen, that we might not have heard of.

At the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century, a tailor who was collecting folktales lived in Macedonia. His name is Marko Cepenkov. He was not only writing, but also finishing them. He was remaking folklore, like Janez Trdina did in Slovenia, V. B. Yeats in Ireland, Lafcadio Hearn (alias Yakumo Koisumi) in Japan. His stories about vampires, witches and ghosts have a lot of charm, and I think that those stories would be interesting for European readers, if there will be someone to translate them.


What book is on your night stand right now?

On my night stand, now, there are some books from the German writer W.G. Sebald who is, for me, a big discovery. Otherwise, the book which is often at that place is: “Cornet a des” (“Box for dice”), collection of ultra-short prose, whose author is Max Jacob.


Tell us about your routine when writing poetry? Any quirks, habits, eccentricities?

On my working table I have, always, a couple of stones from the sea shore. They are always a challenge – oh, if I only could make something so perfect and hermetic!


Where do you find poetic inspiration?

Every day, there is lots of information coming to us. When, in that string, I notice some similarities, it is a moment for making a poem, all the same in verse or in prose.


What is your favorite (non-literary) artwork?

I have been attracted to painting my whole life. From all painters that I admire, I will mark off Giorgio de Chirico. Mysterious atmosphere, which is found in his paintings (from his metaphysical period) is something that I would like to achieve in my poems.


What single line of poetry would you want carved onto your tombstone or recited at your funeral?

“Use secret passes today, tomorrow already they will become public.”

Noah Charney

is a professor of art history and best-selling author of, most recently, The Art of Forgery. You can learn more about his work at or by joining him on Facebook.