Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Sleep Is Coming with Axes & Other Poems— Petar Matović

Oct 16, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments


Petar Matović, Sleep Is Coming with Axes

Image Used For Representation


Sleep Is Coming with Axes


We´ll become inseparable like
a tired warrior and the pursuing
sleep. All the rivers flow into the same sea,
the stream that carries fish into the torn
nets of poor fishermen. The Baltic
was sorrow and unreasonable yearning,
salt cod on the festive table. The cold
grips worse than consumption, the frost on the pane
speaks in formless lines about our
present times, sedatives, and a helplessness
that has no end. I´m telling you, we´re
an endless compound sentence, the relative
clauses surprise with new meanings,
hidden as behind the breastbone, and the sound
does not refer to the heart, but the depths of space
filled with nothing. Sleep is coming with axes
to chop reality into sawdust.

The Politics of a Foetus


Street depressions pass us by, families
taking their children to daycare, then warm
bread loaves enter the baskets, reappear on the table
with newspapers, and the lead imprints are sedimented
on fingertips, with which I touch
your face. The texture remains on your cheeks and your
sudden blushing smothers dramatic
global news. The growing bustle retreats
in front of the hot coffee steam. We are too selfish
on these mornings for the world, you say, I love it,
and the blush pours over the porous clouds.
On the windows our breaths are fattening, birds
in the middle of a coitus won´t give up on the balcony edge.
This home is the stretched skin of your belly,
we are a bee swarm without the queen bee, the images you speak,
they’re one frame, you know: our love… our
love booms … our love booms
from the ultrasound, in foetal beats –
now you two have to last!, as in an apple, the worm is
in the ear. And through you, into us flow those
confounded seas. In them, there´s still the occasional murmur
of a drowsy light.

About My Father


Father comes out onto the balcony
and smokes above the flowerpots
with petunias. In the smoke
he collides with gnats.
He turns into a contour of a head
in those clouds, and already
I know that every father
is a saint only after he dies.

This image I will remember when
I am able to tell it
like this, now I´m in my cot
with my baby rattles, and I can presage
how much denial will have passed
before the mutual acceptance,
because it is then that one stops yellowing in
the sun, in photographs,
fading in smoke. The father will,
finally, begin to ripen,
after himself, with me.

The Slim Body


Real poets are no longer fat. For breakfast,
they have smoothies, they don´t smoke, they run half-marathons,
they do yoga. Chill on the headphones isolates them
from railroad station waiting rooms while they´re writing, and they write
with a hot processor against their balls, without
any pain. Real poets are virile and no longer
cheat on their wives. They yearn for a place out in the sticks,
for tiled stoves and ergonomic chairs.
They don´t flirt with nationalists, they recycle,
they don´t shop in supermarkets. Real
poets are staunch vegans, they cook merely lentils and
grains. Real poets are no longer fat,

echoes wearily in my dream, while my
slim body is threading through a fishing net,
an empty keyhole, a camel’s ears.
It cackles cynically and whispers to me what
the real poets are!

”I put a spell on you”


33⅓ mythical revolutions, the LP
emits the spells of that voice, the hashish
draws me into the armchair, the night, the self.

I see that voice as a pomegranate rind,
bulging, torn by seeds,
overripeness in contrast to the gloom.

Objects bloom into animated
contours, the light is soft and heavy,
the pain acridly saccharine, and you could

genuinely grow to love it. You are the stigmata
of the room: the edges pixelate and crumble,
a remix of space: that emptiness will eventually

show fullness. Jesus loved cotton
best of all. Listening to your voice, I could
kill myself with love only, Nina.

Also, read The Departed Wishes by Chandra Kishore Jayaswal, translated from the Hindi by Ayushee Arora, and published in The Antonym:

The Departed Wishes— Chandra Kishore Jayaswal

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Petar Matović

Petar Matović

Petar Matović (b. 1978) is a Serbian poet and essayist, as well as a high school teacher of Serbian Language and Literature. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology of the Belgrade University with a degree in Serbian Literature. He has published several volumes of poetry: Kamerni komadi (Chamber Pieces), 1997; Koferi Džima Džarmuša (The Suitcases of Jim Jarmusch), 2009; Odakle dolaze dabrovi (Where Beavers Come From), 2013; Iz srećne republike (From the Happy Republic), 2017; Ne hleb već morfijum – izabrane pesme (Not Bread But Morphine – Selected Poems), O sadašnjosti i sedativima (About the Present and Sedatives), 2021.  His work has been published in a number of poetry anthologies, and he has participated in a number of poetry festivals in the Balkans and abroad. Matović’s poetry has been translated into Polish, English, German, Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish, Galician, Macedonian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Slovak, Italian, and French. His work has appeared in renowned literary magazines and has been awarded a number of prizes. Matović has been the recipient of scholarships and a writer-in-residence at Gauda Polonia (2013), Baltic Center for Writers and Translators, Visby, Sweden (2015), Traduki Network, Split (2016), Artist-in-Residence KulturKontakt, Austria (2017), and Q21, Vienna, Austria (2017). He lives in Požega, Serbia.


Marija Bergam Pellicani

Marija Bergam Pellicani

Marija Bergam Pellicani, Born in Montenegro (Yugoslavia at the time) in 1981, she studied English and Spanish at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures  at the University of Bari (Italy), where she went on to obtain a PhD in “Translation Theory and Practice”. After working for three years as a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of English in Bari, she continued her studies at the University of Geneva. She currently works as a freelance literary translator between Serbo-Croatian, English and Italian, and as a teacher of Serbo-Croatian and English. She has published research articles and short essays about contemporary English-language poets and has translated several poetry collections from English into Serbian, including some of her favourite poets – Derek Walcott, Charles Simic, and Ted Hughes.



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