Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just back from Bosnia-Herzegovina

Here's an extract of the poem by Goran Simic on which the new sevdah opera by Nigel Osborne, with libretto by Simic, is based. Like the poem (from Simic's book of poems Immigrant Blues), the opera is called Differences in Demolitions.

In the Country where I live
when a house has to be torn down
a few workers arrive with a contract,
tear down the house in a few days and leave
and later nobody remembers any more the names of those
who lived there until yesterday.

In the Country I came from
before the house is torn down
an armed police squad arrives
and an ambulance for someone who might want
to die grieving under the demolished roof
beneath which he was born long ago.
For months afterwards even the children avoid the place
where once there was a house
because of the ghosts of ancestors who moan
from the spiderwebs and weeds.
There the demolition ball is heavy as a curse.

That's just the first part...

Here's a taste of the difference between London and Mostar.

Do not leave your luggage unattended. Any unattended bags may be removed and destroyed.
Hold the handrail on the ecscalator. Stand on the right.
Do not allow children to ride in the luggage trolleys.
Do not allow children to play on the escalators.
Dogs must be carried.
From 1 July smoking will be banned in all enclosed public spaces in England.
'We are sorry to announce that the 15.55 service to Hounslow is delayed by approximately six minutes. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause to your journey.'
All places wishing to present live music must apply for a very expensive licence.
Those with five cars exhort those of us who take trains to oppose planned parking restrictions and pricey residents' permits in our road.

'Attention! Dangerous ruin. Access and parking forbidden.'
'Ticket: Differences in Demolitions. National Theatre, 8pm.'... 8pm: people start to arrive, drink and talk to each other in the square. 8.25pm: doors open; stampede for best seats. 8.40pm: first sounds...
'Oh, Jess, it's best not to wander off the paths into open patches of grass. There could be landmines.'

A trip like this can cause some ructions in the soul. I need to process this before writing about it fully.