A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets

By John Pilling | Go to book overview
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Vasko Popa (born 1922)

Born in Grebenac, near Belgrade. Studied at the universities of Vienna, Bucharest and Belgrade, graduating in French and Yugoslav Literature in 1948 from the last-named. Awarded many Yugoslavian literary prizes and the Austrian Lenau prize in 1967. His poetry has been translated into all the major European languages.

It would be difficult to find a more dramatic illustration of the interest generated by the poetry of Eastern Europe than the publication in 1978 of the Yugoslav Vasko Popa Collected Poems. There are, after all, many better-known English and American poets who have yet to gather their work together in this way, or be invited by their publishers to do so. But in the case of Popa perhaps only an extensive collection of his work could really be said to do justice to him, for he depends more than most poets on his audience being placed in full possession of the keys which might unlock a distinctly original but sometimes rebarbatively oblique vision of the world. Popa's practice of writing in cycles and of creating echoes within and between cycles by concentrating on a limited number of motifs gives his work a rigour and coherence that is rare in contemporary poetry, but it means that each individual poem can seem somehow impoverished when deprived of the poems designed to accompany and interact with it. It is as if Popa had been seeking to compensate for the potential shortcomings of a language shorn of almost all the rhetorical decorations present in most poetry (even in that which offers itself as 'minimalist') by subjecting

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A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets
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