Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: SNAKE DEATHS by Monika Herceg, translated by Marina Veverec

my grandmother's youngest brother
long lay face-down in the hay
before they discovered
his young corpse

when the walnuts peered out of their green pods
he gathered their wrinkly heads
cracked them bare then ground them
the sunday gibanica cake smelled
of homecoming

in the early evening they put
a bullet to his dome
dragging him back down
to the center of the earth

adders kept vigil over him
like points of a compass
so quartering the death
that slept in him

By Monika Herceg

Translated by Marina Veverec

Poem from Monika Herceg’s Initial Coordinates, Sandorf Passage, 2022.

Monika Herceg is a Croatian poet, a physics student, and an editor at the Fraktura publishing house as well as at the Croatian journal Poezija, published by the Croatian Writers’ Society. She is the author of three poetry collections, including the widely acclaimed Početne koordinate (2018), Lovostaj (2019) and Vrijeme prije jezika (2020). She has received more than ten national prizes, most notably the Goran for Young Poets and the Fran Galovać Prize. Most recently, her play Gdje se kupuju nježnosti was awarded by the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Her poems, plays, and short stories have been translated into more than fifteen languages, including English, French, Italian, Greek and German. She has recently been announced the European Poet of Freedom 2024.

Marina Veverec studied literary translation at the University of Zadar, Croatia, and is also an alumnus of the BCLT Summer School. Her translations have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Exchanges, Poetry International Web, Asymptote, VerseVille, Literary Hub and Harvard Review. In 2022, her translation of Monika Herceg’s Initial Coordinates was published by Sandorf Passage. She lives in Zadar where she co-organizes the LITaf Literary Festival and holds the role of a language editor at the Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation, as well as at SPONDE. She works as a special education paraprofessional at a local elementary school.

Photo by Lisa Kalloo

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Read previous poems in the Poetry Travels series:

ON THE WAY TO THE SHOP by Marija Dejanović, translated by Vesna Maric

*** (MY LOVE, YOU SAID YOU WERE A WOLF) 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


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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