Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: ON THE WAY TO THE SHOP by Marija Dejanović, translated by Vesna Maric

In a country where few speak your language
everyone speaks louder than you
everyone is more visible, more protected
hidden by numerousness
on the way to the tea shop you feel much too noticeable
The movements of your knees reflect your lack of friends

Your gait is stiff, too strict
and although everyone is extremely kind
they don't dig into your flesh out of the goodness of
their hearts
they talk amongst themselves not to bother you
they say good day and goodbye

Still, you feel like a pair of metal compasses
whose sharp shiny needle point stabs the concrete
meter after meter
As you walk from the flat to the shop, from the shop to
the flat
you leave behind a vanishing circle of your presence, a
language
of mutual incomprehension;

when you're buying tea from the friendly shopkeeper
it is you, rather than the dried leaves, that is on display

Returning from the shop you begin to resemble them
Aimless, you are an eye that envelops
and does not reveal

Out of love for yourself you don't question how you feel
just like out of your love for animals
you eat herbs planted by another's children
who will never be able to afford the food they grow
you buy cashew nuts in a plastic bag
whose production melts women's identity off their
fingertips

But those are some other women, somewhere far away
women whose sisters live in towns that topple onto their
heads
legal slave women

You have chosen your own hard times
Brought your good times with them

The streets are full of small shops
Each shop has many woven baskets
each woven basket holds a small personal defeat
You walk blonde, blue-eyed
because your skin is suntanned
it is lovely to see you in every street

If they speak to you in that language
you shrug under your hat

They could say they love you or curse you
and you wouldn't know the difference

this ignorance is your small personal victory

By Marija Dejanović

Translated by Vesna Maric

Poem from Marija Dejanović’s Kindness Separates Night From Day, Sandorf Passage, 2023.


Marija Dejanović was born in Prijeder, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1992. She grew up in Croatia, Sisak, and currently lives between Zagreb, Croatia and Larissa, Greece. She studied comparative literature and pedagogy at the University of Zagreb. In 2018, Ethics of Bread and Horses (Erika kruha i konja) won the Goran award and the Kvirin award; in 2019, Heartwood (Središnji god) won the Zdravko Pucak. In 2021, her third book, Kindness Separates Night From Day (Dobrota razdvaja dan i noć) was shortlisted for Croatia’s biggest poetry award, Tin Ujević, and the regional award Avdina Okarina.


Vesna Maric was born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1976 and left at sixteen as part of a convoy of refugees. She translated literary fiction and non-fiction from Croatian into English, and writes a variety of journalism for publications including The Guardian. Maric’s memoir, Bluebird, was published by Granta in 2009, and was longlisted for The Orwell Prize; her first novel, The President Shop, was published by Sandorf Passage in 2021.


Photo by Lisa Kalloo


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Read previous poems in the Poetry Travels series:

*** (MY LOVE, YOU SAID YOU WERE A WOLF) by by Ruzanna Voskanyan, translated by Nieri Avanessian

RED ZONE by Iryna Tsilyk, translated by Vitaly Chernetsky

THE SPIDER by Danae Sioziou, translated by Panagiotis Kechagias and Mania Meziti

UNTITLED by Johanna Venho, translated by Anselm Hollo

THE KNOWLEDGE OF EVERYTHING by Eleni Cay, translated by the Author

ALIBI by Ewa Brzoza Birk, translated by Anna Blasiak

PATIENCE by Ziba Kirbassi, translated by Stephen Watts

HARLEQUIN by Arjola Zadrima, translated by Vlora Konushevci

SIRENS by Victoria Amelina, translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

JOB: A WOMAN by Dominika Lewicka-Klucznik, translated by Anna Blasiak

BAGS by Blerina Rogova Gaxha, translated by Vlora Konushevci

TONGUEFISH by Yolanda Castaño, translated by Keith Payne

WHAT DO YOU NEED by Friederike Mayröcker, translated by Christina Daub

A WORK OF BIOGRAPHY by Max Jacob, translated by Ian Seed

UNTITLED POEM by Ivano Fermini, translated by Ian Seed

AGAINST TRAVEL. FOR DANA by Rachel Levitsky

LIGHT by Vasyl Makhno, translated by Olena Jennings

A MESSAGE FROM THE ISLE OF WIGHT by Wioletta Greg, translated by Maria Jastrzębska and Anna Blasiak

HOME by Nataša Sardžoska, translated by the Author

ONLY THE BEGINNING COUNTS (4) by Jan Baeke, translated by Antoinette Fawcett

*** (RABID WINDS) by Gerður Kristný, translated by Rory McTurk

ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS by Vainius Bakas, translated by Kerry Shawn Keys

AGGRESSOR’S MONOLOGUE by Artūras Valionis, translated by Jura Avizienis

THAT’S ALL by Jurgita Jasponytė, translated by Jura Avizienis

UNTITLED by Linas Umbrasas, translated by Audra Skukauskaitė

FIRST SPRING OF THE WAR by Vytautas Kaziela, translated by Jura Avizienis

A LETTER TO A CHILD by Lina Buidavičiutė, translated by Ada Valaitis

UNTITLED by Aneta Kamińska, translated by Anna Blasiak

TWO LYRICS OF LOVE AND MEMORY by Lina Kostenko, translated by Stephen Komarnyckyj

CROW STUDY by Yuri Andrukhovych, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Ludmila Khersonsky, translated by Maya Chhabra

UNTITLED POEM by Iryna Vikyrchak

From THE ANDROMEDA NEBULA by Anna Gréki, translated by Souheila Haïmiche and Cristina Viti

TEAPOT by Nurduran Duman, translated by Andrew Wessels

IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author

INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak

REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer

*** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will

THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

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