A Celebration: Milorad Krystanovich (1950-2011), The Moseley Exchange, Birmingham

This event was sponsored by Nine Arches Press, publishers of Krystanovic’s latest and posthumous collection , Moses’ Footsteps ,for which the evening was a launch. A Croatian national, he had lived in Birmingham since 1992 and studied Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham , was a member of Writers Without Borders, Cannon Poets and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Milorad had also worked as a language teacher at the Brasshouse Centre in Birmingham. The full room was testament to the enduring quality of the affection and admiration felt for him following his recent death.

The collection itself is a delight, and a triumph of the dedication of co-editors Jane Commane and Matt Nunn, in association with various local poetic luminaries. Poetry which is written in one language, and in that cultural tradition, is not easy to translate, even with the author there to help. Yet the themes are universal, not least of bridges, bridges between languages, cultures, places, times, pain and recovery. The primacy of atmosphere, ambience and tone, over straightforward narrative possessing an ethereal dimension.

A glittering roster of readers lined up to read their own selections from Krystanovic’s work, reminisce, and explain the reasons for their selections, the latter being both instructive, and illuminating. Martin Underwood, Myra Connell , Julie Boden and John Alcock drew upon their personal experience with Krystanovic as a friend and fellow poet. Jonathan Morley spoke of his experiences when as editor he published The Yasen Tree with Heaventree Press, Jane Commane of her contemporary experiences on editing Moses Footprints. Birmingham University academic Dr Luke Kennard’s selection of “Midday Flower Density” was notable both in its delivery, worthiness, and his observations of the poem’s merits.

A fine evening, and an event fitting to celebrate the life and work of a man whose reputation is assured. Moses’ Footprints (2012) and Improvising Memory (2010) are available from Nine Arches Press, and follow on from The Yasen Tree (Heaventree Press, 2007), The Language of Wounds, Where Spirits Touch and Four Horizons/Ceteri Vidika were also previously published.

Gary Longden 3/3/12

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