Monday, July 26, 2021

Novica Tadić*

Novica Tadić (1949—2011) is a Serbian poet who lived most of his life in Belgrade. He has been honoured with several important Serbian literary awards such as the Laureat Nagrade.

Canadian composer Michael Matthews, who set six of Tadic’s poems to music, said, “Tadić depicts a dark and sardonic and unsettling Boschian world, yet within that world I find both innocence and lyricism, and a strangely expressive beauty…” His poems are frequently nightmarish, written in light of the atrocities the Balkan Peninsula experienced in the twentieth century.

His collection The Devil’s Pal (2008) is a book of poems focussed on death ― described in Serbia National Review as “fragments of a prayer.” Its final poem, “Prayer for a Not Shameful Death” says,
-------My Creator and my Lord, I have small tombs on the tips of my
-------fingers. This is where I have buried all my wishes. Only one more
-------is still alive: give me, Omnipotent One, a quick and easy death.
-------Send it to me as soon as possible, so I wouldn’t be a shame to my
-------angel. Praise You in heavens. Praise You who care of me too.

The following poem, translated by Charles Simic, is from the collection The Horse Has Six Legs (Graywolf Press).


Disfigure me, Lord. Take pity on me.
Cover me with bumps. Reward me with boils.
In the fount of tears open a spring of pus mixed with blood.
Twist my mouth upside down. Give me a hump. Make me crooked.
Let moles burrow through my flesh. Let blood
circle my body. Let it be thus.
May all that breathes steal breath from me,
all that drinks quench its thirst in my cup.
Turn all vermin upon me.
Let my enemies gather around me
and rejoice, honoring You.

Disfigure me, Lord. Take pity on me.
Tie every guilt around my ankles.
Make me deaf with noise and delirium. Uphold me
above every tragedy.
Overpower me with dread and insomnia. Tear me up.
Open the seven seals, let out the seven beasts.
Let each one graze my monstrous brain.
Set upon me every evil, every suffering,
every misery. Every time you threaten,
point your finger at me. Thus, thus, my Lord.
Let my enemies gather around me
and rejoice, honoring You.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Novica Tadić: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.