Translated by Biljana D. Obradović
Sleepwalkers on a Picnic (Prose Poems)
ISBN: 978-1-944884-70-3 (pbk.)
Sleepwalkers on a Picnic introduces poet Zvonko Karanović to English-speaking readers, and in the genre of the prose poem, which is extremely rare in the Serbian poetics. Poems in prose were historically written in the age of symbolism, expressionism and surrealism, however Karanović’s poetics formed during the 80s, in the poetic culture of socialist Yugoslavia. His work is thus fundamentally marked by postmodernism, as evidenced in his authorial reflexivity and problematizations of the narrator role. Perhaps more important, though, is the influence of the Beats, from whom he inherits an anaphoric music reminiscent of Ginsberg or James Tate, whom he quotes. These poems in prose, in striking translation by Biljana D. Obradović, have also absorbed American pop culture—music and film as well as poetry—and thus pay testament to our era of globalization. Zvonko Karanović’s poems show how one exciting local poetic opus can be realized in transnational models which today we share more than ever.
—Dubravka Djurić, Poet, Critic, Professor, Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, Serbia, co-editor, Cat Painters: Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry (Diálogos, 2016).
Imagine if James Tate—master of the surreal, blackly humorous prose poem—had lived through a hellish war and a repressive political regime without losing his zany wit. The outcome might well be these forty cinematic prose poems by Zvonko Karanović, expertly translated by the Serbian-American poet Biljana Obradović.
—Julie Kane, Past Louisiana Poet Laureate, co-editor of the translation from the Lithuanian of Terribly in Love: Selected Poems, by Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė
Sixty is an especially interesting age for a poet: old enough to have experienced the best and the worst the world has to offer, more than once, and too young to say enough’s enough, just forget it! Arriving at this point in his life, Zvonko Karanović asks yet again the one truly essential question, Who am I? In these sentence poems, studiously translated by Biljana Obradović, Karanović offers in the third person tantalizing responses to this question: “He was more attuned to fantasy than to work, to excuses than to conflict.” The dreamscapes in this book are often fantastical, peopled by unforgettable characters, and are well worth getting to know.
—Timothy Skeen, Poet, California State University, Fresno, Professor of English, author of Reward
Cover Art: “Bus Full of Sleepwalkers” by Simon Kastelic © 2019