Rusmir Mahmutćehajić’s “On the Poetry of Mak Dizdar: The Poet, the Road, and the Word” appears in Telos 156 (Fall 2011). Read the full version online at the TELOS Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.
This essay investigates certain key ontological, cosmological, anthropological, and psychological aspects of Mak Dizdar’s Stone Sleeper, the best-known poetic work of the Slavic south. Written during the 1960s, the book was recognized immediately on publication as an authentic voice of perennial wisdom finding expression through major elements of Bosnian culture. Although distorted and obscured in modern ideological perspectives, the idea of “Bosnian Culture” preserves nearly all the vital elements of perennial wisdom. The poet’s confident expression of this wisdom is, in the author’s view, his witness to the need for dialogue between interlocutors of both the traditional and modern viewpoints that can assist our exit from confusion and ideological reductionism. In spite of its origins during the period of Communist totalitarianism, Stone Sleeper presents a clear picture of how human openness to the principle of existence, which transcends any and all ideological construction, is and remains irreducible to closed form. This book has been recognized as both a supreme achievement and a crucial moment in the poetry of the Slavic south, confirming Bosnia’s centrality to and rich impact upon that complex whole.