About the Work
by vladislav beronja
In the remaining three poems, the scene shifts to Belgrade, the former capital of socialist Yugoslavia and the current capital of postsocialist Serbia, where Obradović currently lives. Genex, referenced in the second poem, is a brutalist skyscraper towering over the western entryway to the city that has become a prominent symbol of Yugoslav socialism, but also one of its last monumental architectural undertakings. The third poem addresses the increasing commercialization of the publishing industry by ironically incorporating the marketing slogan of one of the largest publishing houses in Serbia, Laguna, into its structure. The final poem centers on Balkanska Street, a steep cobblestone thoroughfare in the center of Belgrade. Historically known for its artisan and pastry shops, the street has been facing gentrification as part of luxury development that has swept the city in the last decade under the increasingly authoritarian government of Aleksandar Vučić.
In my translations, I follow the idiosyncrasies of Obradović's orthography and style: the avoidance of capitalization, even with toponyms, and the accentuation of “ready-made” language through italicization. The condensed, enjambed quality of his line required much creative improvisation to keep the economy of these poems intact.
vladislav beronja (b. 1984, Bihać) is a scholar and translator of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. His work has appeared in The Offing, Two Lines Journal, harlequin creature, and The Brooklyn Rail’s InTranslation. His translations of Dino Pešut’s novel Daddy Issues and Slavenka Drakulić’s documentary novel about Mileva Einstein are forthcoming. He teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.