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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 40 | volume VIII | January-February, 2005



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 40January-February, 2005

The Poetics of Exile

On Bogomil Gjuzel's, The Wolf at the Door, Xenos Books,
and Mahmoud Darwish's Unfortunately, It Was Paradise, UCP

p. 1
Kevin Carollo

    Homeland want to deceive us into thinking that they–and we–last forever. The work of Mahmoud Darwish and Bogomil Gjuzel approaches the question of home from an existential poetics of exile. Exile poetics iliustrate how the ephemeral estrangements of life configure the dimensions of the fixed and the eternal. Though each writer's personal formation differs significantly from the other, the Palestinian Darwish and Macedonian Gjuzel stand as poetic siblings who frustrate notions of time, language, myth, identity, and home in order to exhort the reader to become someone else, become something greater. Darwish and Gjuzel offer up the conflicting existential imperatives of nurturing and devastating the sense of home offered by homelands. They ask: where is the homeland without borders? This is powerful stuff, and crucial reading for the global citizen of the 21st century.

    Though Macedonia managed to avoid internal conflict during the 1990s, when some of the poems in the collection The Wolf at the Door (Xenos Books, $15) were written, Gjuzel's poetry invokes the mythic proportions of the region's turbulent recent history. Steeped in Greek wythology, and conscious of the contemporary existential challenges posed by the many-headed hydra we call “balkanization,” his work seems both ancient and postmodern. The Wolf at the Door shifts between prose poems and verse offerings, rewriting both ancient and modern mythologies from the perspectives of such fugures as Pandora, Judas Iscariot, the eagle who must eat Prometheus' liver, and a doubting Thomas twin of Jesus. In “The End of the Century,” he writes:
    Perhaps after our Fall, even God
    expelled Himself from Paradise,
    shut Himself within himself,
    to be born and be given, birth to.

    And perhaps we only kindled the fire
    but did not vanish… we return
    to the nothingess the glow
    inside ourselves.

    Gjuzel's heresy pays homage to deities who form themselves in the image of humans–beings who, like us, must return again and again to the womb of creation. Unfortunately, paradise is never enough.
    The drive to embrace the glowing nothingness within explains a vital aspect of Darwish's work as well. In the long poem “Mural” he asserts: “In my death there is a certain life.” This realization leads to further difficult questions: “What might I be in death after my death? / What might I be in death before my death?” The fact of mortallity means poetry must embrace the dual prospects of life-in-death and death-in-life. For Darwish, answers to these questions may only be found

"Blesok" editions 01-93 are also available at CEEOL web site.

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