Macedonian Week of the Festival

A Chronicler of the Modern World

Review of “Sparrows and Time” by Pauli Tapio

/ by Ivan Shopov

The book “Sparrows and Time”, although a debut book, witnesses a poet who is already mature and who has achieved uniquely individual poetics, a recognizable poetic voice. Pauli Tapio is in a way a chronicler of the modern world in which “the grand question shattered into a thousand small ones”; in his verses we find the echo of the confused modern individual, trying to orientate himself in the chaotic and oftentimes brutal world. Pauli Tapio’s lyricism excludes pathos. In his poetry there is no room for escapism as he boldly focuses on the current problems of our time. “Sparrows and Time” is a book which does not elude the political. However, when facing the most burning and current issues tormenting the modern world, Tapio does not fall into banality.


In terms of its form “Sparrow and Time” is a book which is quite conceptual. The author adopts forms and expressions which may not be intrinsically poetic, and in doing so defamiliarizes his poetic statement. The biblical pastiche, diary entries, headlines, prose, prose poetry, poems which can be read in many ways and in many directions… All of that creates a book which is exciting and not monotone, but still, when everything is taken into consideration, a book which functions as a whole from its beginning to its end. Pauli Tapio’s poetry is characterized by strong intertextual resonance. Although his poetic expression is undoubtedly modern, it is not anti-traditionalist, and he succeeds in reconciling tradition with the urge to be modern.

The prevailing tone of the book is one of melancholy, at times there is resignation towards the horrors, but it cannot be denied that in the book of poetry “Sparrows and Time” a certain degree of rebellion is also present. Pauli Tapio’s rebellion is not a youthful cry, but instead, we find it in the insistence on remembering. “Remembering is a weakness, to not remember is madness” he says in one of his poems. It is not a coincidence that a large part of this book of poetry is structured as a diary entry. Everyday life takes place over the tone of headlines about drowned migrants and over the tone of the most brutal torture methods in history.

And what remains to the poet but to remember, to note down?

Remembering, the poetic chronicle of brutal times, but of complex and turbulent inner worlds as well, is not and cannot be meaningless.

Ivan Shopov

was born in 1987 in Skopje, Macedonia. He graduated at Faculty of Philology „Blazhe Koneski“, Skopje, (Section: General and comparative literature). In the period 2012-2018 he was one of the editors of the Publishing House Templum and the internet portal He published the books Azbuka i zalutani zapisi (short stories, Templum, Skopje, 2010), Meshe na godinata (poems in prose, Templum, Skopje, 2012) and 091-antirazglednici od Skopje, (short stories, Druga prikazna, Skopje, 2017) and Hronikite na Arslan Novinarski (satirical articles, Templum, Skopje, 2017). His poems and stories have been translated into English, Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Czech, Romanian and German. He translated in Macedonian books by Ambrose Bierce, Roman Kissiov, Dragoslav Mihailović, Asja Bakić, as well as texts by Danilo Kiš, George Orwell, Jozefina Dautbegović, Peter DentchevSamuel Beckett, Mahmoud Darwish, Zbignew Herbert, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski. In 2016 and 2017, he was member of the Board of the literature festival Druga prikazna (Another Story), Skopje.