by Marko Kristic
Pesme is kazamata (Casemate Poems)
translated by Dubravka Duric
Beograd; Rad, 2005
Who is reading out there?
I know what is going to be your first question. Who is Joe Blades? Believe it or not, before I could ever meet him, that was a question I asked myself while I was reading the book Pesme is kazamata (Casemate Poems). But first, who is Joe Blades.
In few words: born and raised in Canada; trained in design and photography; by vocation poet, pacifist (I presume!) by conviction. On the side, he works as a producer at a local radio station and has memberships in different art and literary associations that I am not going to list here. He is the author of a couple of books of poetry; his poems are included in a number of anthologies, and, if this increased your interest, you can find more detailed information at his site (the man is current with present times!)
Pesme is kazamata (Casemate Poems) was written during two one-week participations in a program for vocational artists organized by the Fredericton Arts Alliance held in former casemates situated on the ground floor of the barracks built in former British military facilities. It is interesting that the barracks are next to the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, a couple of museums and numerous galleries (quite contradictory surroundings!) "… difficult rebuilding routine when / nothing is as nothing was will be again …" says Blades. This is where we can see how the atmosphere in the casemates influenced Blades. Besides, this verse leads to something bigger and more important. Building on ruins!
Still, is this possible or perhaps Blades is a utopian?! In my opinion, it would be interesting to know what would, for instance, Solzhenitsyn have to say considering "his" Gulag casemates.
Pay attention to this "…. i watch news broadcast / video of bin laden walking and talking …"
This is where we come to the point where Blades explains his poetry and, I am going to quote him here in order to avoid misunderstanding: "The poems are situational, rather than stream-of-consciousness, translating experience and baggage of knowledge …" This is definitely something completely different. By chance or intentionally (who could know!) Blades gives a new view of poetry.
Poems as situation! But, as a situation of the poet's internal and not external experience. Situation of his situation! Or better said, situation as an experience!
Common, concise and concrete. Wide vocabulary, use of everyday things such as news, street names, typewriters, cameras as well as certain exact sciences (mathematics) with the addition of blues, jazz and a great rocker Johnny Cash ([Walk the Line movie] presently showing in cinemas) confirm Blades' openness and opposition to intellectual poetry.
Pesme is kazamata (Casemate Poems) is a counterpoint to casemates and, in a way, Blades has decontaminated, or, shall I say, de-casemated them.
There is a free bonus. While reading the book, you will encounter Blades the photographer. The photographs were taken at the casemates and, in a very simple but conceptual form, reflect the silent atmosphere of the casemates. They are black and white.
In a way, this text is only an overture. Reliable sources (actually, the publishing house!) claim that, most probably, Joe Blades is going to visit Belgrade in April.
What was your first question: who is Joe Blades?
Translation by the Canadian Embassy, Belograd, Serbia i Crna Gora, with an edit by Joe Blades.