Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011
Ljubomir Dragović, Uska staza/A Narrow Road; publisher: Liber, Beograd 2011; translation: Saša Važić; English-language Advisor: an’ya; printed by Dijamant print; ISBN 978-86-6133-055-1
Vladimir Devidé, Croatia
ABOUT ONE HAIKU BY LJUBOMIR DRAGOVIĆ
The first collection of Ljubomir Dragović's haiku, Dah zemlje (A Breath of Earth), published in Šibenik in 1983, thus, more than twenty years ago, proved Ljubomir to be a mature haiku poet. A number of three-lined poems in that collection are undoubtedly of a permanent, anthology merit. I would like to comment on the following:
flower shop –
a salesgirl's smile
on the flowers' petals
A salesgirl's smile is not on her lips only; the one who has seen and felt that smile, who has experienced it, must have “extrapolated” it through his entire surroundings. Her smile is the object of the experience permeating all around. It also reflects and mirrors on the flowers offered by the salesgirl, so that the petals bear the message of that salesgirl’s smile. Moreover, if we delve more deeply, it's perhaps not only the salesgirl’s smile that has passed over to the flowers' petals, but vice versa as well; the white and red petals have perhaps woven the smile which has risen to the salesgirls' lips and pearly teeth.
A genuine haiku does not offer readers a strictly and firmly framed image to which there is nothing to be added; rather, it offers a skillfully made sketch which induces them to experience all that a poet has – perhaps partially unintentionally – “soothed.”
From a book review by Mileta Aćimović Ivkov, Serbia
LONGER THAN LIFE
“If I am not a poet, then I am at least a sufferer.”
Ljubomir Dragović has not reached for realization of a fashionable epigone ambition; that his poetry book mimics an exemplary ideal of classical Japanese achievements, but, on the contrary, that his haiku express – by means of literary models and by respecting the poetic postulates to a certain degree – the power of his own sensation, the beauty of his homeland and the poetic expressiveness of his native language. That is why Ljubomir’s haiku poetry is (contrary to most of the current production of this kind), not only different as a phenomenon, but, much more importantly, of a greater value and suggestively more effective – receptive.
odors of spring . . .
the young bull's horns
sharpened by the moon
From a book review by Dragan Jovanović Danilov, Serbia
TOWARD OUR HEART
If I am not wrong, Shames Hinny once said (I quote by memory) that “the task of a poet and poetry is to keep beauty alive, especially at the times when repressive regimes destroy that beauty.” The poet Ljubomir Dragović, who exclusively writes haiku poetry, does not abhor the light nor the aesthetics of beauty. He embodies that “diamond grinder” (of whom Max Jacob speaks), trying to build his world of daylight; airing out humidity and this darkness with a golden gleam of his haiku fireflies.
Reading Dragović's haiku, I dive deeply into it and dissolve in that cosmos, peakless and bottomless; as seductive and as familiar as is life itself:
a lonely islet surfaces
How much beauty, precision and poetic sensitivity in just three lines! Dragović's greatest skill is in that he is capable of diving into the lotus of his heart and expressing himself in a simple way—a rudimental way. However, the way to this, is not at all easy. It is the way of clearing up, and the Zenian purification from all that is nonessential and extraneous. In the soul of the poet there is an esoteric, Mediterranean tranquility attained by reconciliation with the world and the landscape. However, his haiku are also refined by a melancholic resentment, beyond which lie tenderness, compassion, gentleness–gentleness which is an immense power.
Dimitar Anakiev, Slovenia
Ljubomir Dragović is a poet of lyrical meditation with nature, who can be, by his devotion to both nature and meditation, compared with the well-known American poet, R.H Blyth's discipline, James W. Hackett. You can read almost all Ljubomir's poems and yet not find a single direct socio-cultural reflexion or any biographical datum. The poet is in the middle of the dramatic historical events, but he does not record them in his poetry.
For Ljubomir Dragović a haiku is, first of all, escapism from the socio-historical reality. In a special way, such author's attitude also represents a complete negation of the historical reality, not by criticizing it but by turning his head toward nature where the poet's lyrical soul finds food and consolation. By his consistent attitude “outside, out of the yard” (soto), that is, not belonging to a “house” (uchi) of culture, Dragović is also a soul-brother of Japanese apostates from the society and culture, Santoka and Hosai, whereas in these regions a similar meditative lyric poetry is cherished by Bojan Jovanović and Tomislav Mijović – each of the three (or the six) with his remarkable and recognizable works.
In Ljubomir's best poems, those in which he achieves a surplus meaning, that is, in which he exceeds a realistic sketching of nature and reaches a metaphoric expression there are certain cultural paradigms and confessional features.
A good example is the above “summer poem.” In it the author, probably pressed with the new Balkan reality in which he has found himself in a delicate position, identifies his fate with that of a shell, flattened by the weight of the sea it suffers. The sea has “withdrawn” and the flattened shell has been left alone and gone aground. It looks as if the poet speaks, in a metaphorical way, about himself but also about the fate of any man in the street seized by the great historical flow.
In many of his poems Dragović exhibits an outstanding lyrical skill, but this poem about the flattened shell is the most eloquent of all his haiku I have always read with pleasure.