“All We Have Left” in Numéro Cinq

Riverside, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Riverside, Mostar

“All We Have Left,” a 2012 memoir of mine about Bosnia-Herzegovina — a photo and travel essay, featuring art by Samir Biščević and music by Merima Ključo and Miroslav Tadić — has just been published in the online Canadian literary magazine Numéro Cinq, along with new poems about Bosnia by the masterful Goran Simić and Sydney Lea, Vermont’s Poet Laureate.

 

Bregava River / Rijeka Bregava, Stolac

Bregava River / Rijeka Bregava, Stolac

 

**My essay “All We Have Left” is here.

**Goran Simić’s “Wind in the Straitjacket” is here.

**And Sydney Lea’s “No Consequence,” dedicated to Goran, is here.

 

 

The editor of Numéro Cinq, the brilliant Canadian novelist Douglas Glover, captured the spirit of our unlikely, border-crossing collaborations in his preview for the October issue:

Long story: in 2010 we published a gorgeous sequence of poems by the Bosnian-Canadian poet Goran Simić. Flash forward to this summer: I got in touch with Goran in Bosnia and he said sure but he needed some translation help. Contributing Editor Sydney Lea put me in touch with Tom Simpson at Phillips Exeter Academy who knows Goran and has a personal stake in Bosnia. Tom flies to Sarajevo and he and Goran have what I can only say must have been a wonderful time together, sitting in Bosnian bars and coffee houses, mulling over the poems.  The result: We have in this issue a brand new, freshly translated (by Goran and Tom) sheaf of Goran Simić poems, plus a terribly moving, passionate memoir of Thomas Simpson’s travels in Bosnia, his friendships and epiphanies.You will have to read the poems and the essay; words fail, and the story of pain, loss and human will embodied in the word Bosnia can only be re-experienced in their art.

But wait, there’s more (ah, the endless adventure of editing NC): A week and a half ago, Tom wrote to say he’d gone to a Sydney Lea reading (they had never met before), and Syd had read a poem about and for Goran Simić that nearly brought Tom to tears. So I wrote to Syd and got the poem for NC. Much gratitude to Tom and Goran and Syd for combining on two continents to bring this to pass.

Profound gratitude to Goran, Sydney, Douglas, and all my dear Bosnian friends.

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Merima and Miroslav at Exeter

This Tuesday, at 7 p.m., the extraordinary Merima Ključo (concert accordion) and Miroslav Tadić (guitar) will be performing in Exeter, New Hampshire, at Phillips Exeter Academy’s Phillips Church. The concert is free and open to the public.

A sample of their stunning new collaborations and arrangements, via YouTube, is here.

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Coming Soon: “All We Have Left” in Numéro Cinq

Museum of Literature and the Performing Arts, Sarajevo

Museum of Literature and the Performing Arts, Sarajevo

Today, the Canadian literary magazine Numéro Cinq, edited by Douglas Glover, released a preview of its October issue, which will include my essay “All We Have Left,” along with poems about Bosnia-Herzegovina by the masterful Goran Simić and Sydnea Lea, Vermont’s Poet Laureate. The preview is here. Enjoy.

Posted in Autobiography / Memoir, Bosnia, Human Rights, Peacebuilding, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mantra for Middle Age

IMG_3896Today, one of the luxuries of summer: a trip to a family fun center, decked out with video games, a go-kart track, and indoor batting cages. Even as I start to push 40, I can’t stay out of the cages.

Trying to be at least moderately sensible, I headed for the medium-speed cage, before my seven-year-old slugger intervened to ask why I wasn’t up for the high-speed challenge. Sensing that he was questioning not only my decision but also my manhood, I immediately turned to the cage that was bringing the heat.

At first, it felt like a big mistake. The first pitch blew by me in the dim flourescent light, the yellow, dimpled ball streaking across the outer half of the plate, at the knees, my arms lunging after it high and late. Rattled, I amped up. I started pumping the balls of my feet, waving the barrel of the bat up and down behind my head. The next swing wasn’t much better, a wild one that caught the top of the ball and drilled it straight down for a weak infield chopper.

Then, a voice of distilled wisdom called to me: steady the eyes, simplify the stride. All of a sudden, I was locked in. In baseball’s special realm of paradox, I was now relaxed enough to attack the ball with authority, to track it, meet it square, and send it back through the box.

After not missing a pitch for the rest of the session–about 60 pitches in all–I had to laugh at myself. This felt like just the sort of epiphany that could have helped me go to the next level in my days as a varsity and men’s amateur baseball player, but at this age, the insight is all but wasted on me.

But then a thought of even deeper wisdom intruded: what better mantra for the beginning of middle age than “steady the eyes, simplify the stride”? After years of hustling to establish and prove myself professionally, it’s becoming more and more apparent that I’m entering into a new stage of life, one in which I need to pace and take care of myself for the long haul–a stage of simplifying my stride and steadying my eyes on my relationships with family and friends, my students, and my writing. Not a bad “takeaway” for a day at the batting cages.

Posted in Autobiography / Memoir, Baseball, Fatherhood, Parenting, Raising Boys, Religion and Spirituality, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bosnia in Bloom

A few more images from my recent travels…the resilient beauty of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Domestic garden, Blagaj

Domestic garden, Blagaj

Bregava River / Rijeka Bregava, Stolac

Bregava River / Rijeka Bregava, Stolac

Pomegranate, rural Herzegovina

Pomegranate, rural Herzegovina

Riverside restaurant, Mostar

Riverside restaurant, Mostar

Riverside garden, Sarajevo

Riverside garden, Sarajevo

Mosque courtyard, Sarajevo

Mosque courtyard, Sarajevo

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Remembering Srebrenica (2014)

Today, remembering Srebrenica with words and images that have never left me. Click on the links below for essays, photographs, and links to Bosnian artists’ reflections.

Srebrenica, Bebolucija, and the Politics of Life” (2013)

Remembering Srebrenica” (2012)

Remembering Srebrenica” (2011)

Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial

Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial

Posted in Bosnia, Ethics, Gender, Human Rights, Islam, Peacebuilding, Religion and Politics, Religion and Spirituality, Social Justice, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bosnian Summer

I’ve just come home from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some lingering images…more to come.

Museum of Literature and the Performing Arts, Sarajevo

Museum of Literature and the Performing Arts, Sarajevo

Oleander and Olive, Stolac

Oleander and Olive, Stolac

Skakavac, overlooking Sarajevo

Skakavac, overlooking Sarajevo

Dervish House, Blagaj

Dervish House, Blagaj

Siege Memorial and Mosque, Sarajevo

Siege Memorial and Mosque, Sarajevo

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