Bojan Vasić

- Serbia -

Bojan Vasić (Banatsko Novo Selo, Serbia, 1985) writes poetry, prose and literary criticism. He studied Serbian language and literature at the University of Belgrade. From 2011 to 2015 a member of an informal artistic group making cachesamizdat publications. Secretary of Serbian Literary Society from 2013 to 2016. For his first poetry collection he received awards Mladi Dis and Matićev šal, for Toplo bilje Miroslav Antić and Vasko Popa, and for Udaljavanje Branko Miljković. Lyrical novel Vlastelinstva was shortlisted for a number of literary prizes. Currently living and working in Pančevo.

 

Publications:

Poetry – Srča (Gradska biblioteka Čačak, 2009), Tomato (samizdat, 2011), Ictus (samizdat, 2012), 13 (samizdat, 2013), Detroit (samizdat, 2014), Volfram (Kontrast, Belgrade, 2017), Toplo bilje (KCNS, Novi Sad, 2019) and Udaljavanje(Arhipelag, Beograd 2022), together with selected poems Brid (KCNS, Novi Sad, 2021) and a reprint of four samizdat books Crna kutija (Gradska biblioteka Sombor, 2023).

Prose – Vlastelinstva (Treći Trg, Beograd, 2022).

Translated – Srča/Črepinje (SKC DK, Ljubljana, 2015) and Topli bilki (ZNK Nova, Bitola, 2021)


From “Bojan Vasić’s Linden-Tree Tongue”, Afterword for Srča

            Bojan Vasić’s Srča lies dispersed just like broken glass of words along a thin line dividing two spectres, its tiny pieces reflecting reality that remains after we represent the world through language (“flash / on broken glass of words everything that bourgeois / thinkers call / the world”). Subjectivity of this text doubts itself as much as it doubts reality. Quite conscious that reality is just another language illusion, in the period of ‘realistic’ poetry affirmation, Srča doesn’t believe that poetry’s truth (neither urban nor rural). From this insight, the poetic text derives its dynamism, restlessness, volatility. It’s like the subjectivity is oscillating between itself and its construct being ultimately also the construct of language.

- Dejan Ilić

 

From „Vasić’s Angelus

Despite the fact that Srča (2009), the first poetry book published by Bojan Vasić, is one of the most mature and most convincing debuts within (not only) new poetry scene, it has remained somewhat outside of more intensive and precise critical attention with which the young poets are read in the last couple of years. After being ’officially’ recognized and twice awarded, Vasić has published several more books of poetry (Tomato and Ictus) in a short span of time, all of them within the samizdat publications of the artistic group he founded together with U. Kotlajić, T. Šuškić, V. Tabašević and G. Korunović. The evident poetic turn present in new collections could be characterised at the same time as a (stylistic) opening to ‘inflationary’, processual, associative and subconscious drives of language/subjectivity (“opening the way for metaphor”) and (ethical) directing (“where. into responsibility”). Poetic turn made with Tomatoand continued with Ictus, nevertheless, almost at every point carries and relies on certain motives and main ideas found in Srča, diverting reader’s attention to dynamics of intentional and unintentional borrowings, hidden continuities and visible discontinuities between the first and subsequent poetry books.

Just like in other Vasić’s books, one of the most important semantic layers of Ictus is achieved at the structural level by manipulating powerful theoretical and philosophical multimedia inserts with a distinct ideological and historical meaning. Ictus is composed by combining two very different projects, the first being Low Water Sonnets, an experimental, unrhymed and inverse sonnet wreath beginning with quotes from Benjamin and O. Mandelstam, and the second called White Barricades, a long narrative twelve-part poem with a tone set by quotes from Benjamin and A. Block. It could be said that Ictus is composed out of two separate micro books, just like the latest (unnamed) book by U. Kotlajić is composed out of Sonnets on Holes and Stories on Force. But unlike Kotlajić’s book that is ending with a photograph of a potential critical mass of students ready for an intellectual uprising and depending on a successive critique of modern alienation presented by his Sonnets and Stories, Vasić’s Low Water Sonnets and White Barricades are adhesing themselves together (to use this ungrammatical word) in the very centre/heart of the book, with its two-directional beginning paralleled by a double page reproduction of Paul Klee’s work Angelus Novus. Just like the famous Magritte’s painting (La Clef Des Champs) used for the cover of Srča, illustration found at the heart of Ictus also was a subject of a well-known and influential reading without which it is impossible to understand reasons and effects of integrating it into this book. By selecting quotes form Theses on the Philosophy of History, Vasić is directly referring to Benjamin’s understanding of Klee’s Angelus as the angel of history.

- Biljana Andonovska

 

From “In Between Two Springs”, Afterword for Toplo bilje

When it comes to themes, certain shifts should be noted. The return to a more mundane environment already made in Volfram, representing both a poetic and existential distancing form the type of expression present in cachesamizdat publications, now gets even more pronounced. Also, the poetic mechanism of previous books, with which the background of class and all other struggles within the neoliberal society was being uncovered, gets fatigued in the aftermath of the great economic crisis, with that struggle now only present at the margins of Toplo biljes poetic world. Lyrical hero and his partner now carry within them a whole spectrum of feelings ranging from melancholy to emptiness, characteristic for periods after a revolutionary discharge, although here no revolution actually occurred. We could only talk about an internal change, with the actuality of love occupying the place of future utopia.

The change of the existential focus proves to be far-reaching because it implies entering an age of maturity and with that replacement of emotional and intellectual whirlwinds present within previous books with a more composed and measured phrase. Having in mind the entire Vasić’s work, that actually means that poems are no longer being composed with enumerating impressions and juxtaposing of striking images and metaphors but by deepening them – associative stream of consciousness still moves in all directions but never goes too far from the starting motif, with different images subordinated to one another and not any longer all equally important. We could say this represents the abandonment of metaphor and introduction of a metabola as a main poetic device of the book. In the poem “Birds”, for example, the worlds of birds and lovers exist parallel to each other, they mix and interpret one another, but in doing so remain separate, and thanks to the very concept of the book the lovers’ world always remains semantically the main one. The other example is the poem “Chestnut Tress” where socially disadvantageous lyrical heroes are compared to an alley of permanently crippled chestnut trees planted within an old factory premises. At the end of the poem in a very suggestive metaphysical leap the lyrical situation is viewed from standpoint of eternity which makes the chestnut trees enduring and the grave situation of the characters relieved. Similar pervasion is present in “The Wild Mulberry Trees”, “Acacias” or depressingly autopoietic “Blackberries” and many other poems, sometimes spanning the entire text.

Toplo bilje also demonstrates author’s remarkable skill in text composing – the poems semantically and rhythmically speed up as we read through and then round up, elevate and shine with closing verses. That is the structure of almost every poem in this collection. The most remarkable are those where the ending motif is contrasted with the previous one, like the one of eternity (eons) in the fore mentioned “Chestnut Trees”, or the motif of God’s fingernails in the “Carrots” or the swollen carrion at the end of the “Looking Down From the Highway”, one of the most inventive poems in the book. There, in the struggle between the living (warm flora) and the dead (plastic bottles, pesticides, glass wool) animal carcass is thrown in, something that at the same time possesses the nature of both, signalling the relentlessness of this eternal struggle.

- Marjan Čakarević

 

From „On Udaljavanje

Metal waste and the smell of plastics, barges, warehouses and landfills are only a part of the industrial landscape of consumer society in Vasić’s book, mediated to us by a worker’s voice with a poet’s perception. Lyricism of the everyday life is filled with quiet anguish, air and fat of the clouds are stuffy, flora and fires tired, joy and existence pointless, life and epitaph miss their point and above all there are empty – chimneys and salt marshes, silence and depth, promises and people. Constant reiteration of the words hollow and nothing underlines the atmosphere of sluggish persistence, powerlessness and absence, indifference and resignation that make up a dominant mood. Even when Persephone appears on the book covers, bringing with her mythic underworld, and introduction of Christ and Novalis’s lyrics evoke our relation to the Infinite – everything still remains closed in the uniform circling of time…

- Vladimir Vukomanović