Mak Dizdar

From Academic Kids

Mak (Mehmedalija) Dizdar (Stolac 1917-Sarajevo 1971) was probably one of the greatest Yugoslav poets of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

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Mak Dizdar


After having finished the elementary school in Stolac and high school (Gymnasium) in Sarajevo, Dizdar spent WW2 years as a supporter of Communist Partisans and, frequently, moving undercover from place to place in order to avoid NDH authorities's unwanted for attention.

After the war, Dizdar was a prominent figure in cultural life of Bosnia and Herzegovina, working as the editor in chief of the daily "Oslobođenje", head of a few state-sponsored publishing houses and, finally, as a professional writer and the president of "Writers's union of Bosnia and Herzegovina" until his death.


Bearing in mind Dizdar's impeccably orthodox Communist behavior in the postwar years and his early social poetry, one could have, rightfully, expected a minor poet-apparatchik, a yessayer to everything local political elite would deem appropriate and desirable in "laden years" of rigid authoritarianism, especially dominant in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was treated, particularly in the field of culture, as a Serbia's fief. On the contrarary, as a testimony to the astonishing potentiality of human beings to ovecome their fixations and stereotypes they themselves have allowed to become petrified within, Dizdar has, in just a decade and a half prior to his death, produced unique and powerful poetic oeuvre no one would have expected to appear.

As a poet, Mak Dizdar has in two poetic collections and longer poems, "Kameni spavač"/Stone sleeper (1966-1971) and "Modra rijeka" (1971) achieved magnificent fusion of seemingly disparate elements: inspired by medieval Bosnian tombstones ("stećci" or "mramorovi"/marbles) and their gnomic inscriptions on ephemerality of life, he produced exquisitely structured collection of pregnant verses saturated with his own, intimate, and yet universal vision of life and death that owes much to the Christian and Muslim Gnostic sensibility of life as a passage between "tomb and stars" — but not curtailed by any dogma. Dizdar's vision of life and death expresses, paradoxically, both Gnostic horror of corporeality and a sense of blessedness of the entire earth and Universe. Seems that as diverse strands as radiance of Bosnian pre-Ottoman cultural heritage exemplified in writings of Bosnian Christians, sayings of heterodox Islamic visionary mystics and Croatian vernacular linguistic idiom that fully emerged in 1400s, rich with archaic and spiritual meanings, have fused in a remarkable poetic opus- firmly rooted in Bosnian soil and universal in aesthetic and spiritual eminence.

Mak Dizdar also fought against forced influence of the Serbian language on the Bosnian langugage, as Dizdar called it, in his article "Marginalije o jeziku i oko njega", Zivot, XIX/11 - 12, Sarajevo, 1970, 109-120.

After the collapse of Communism and following the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dizdar's poetic magnum opus did not, surprisingly, become a bone of contention between frequently warring Croats and Bosniaks, but has remained the cornerstone both of Croatian and Bosniak modern Mak Dizdar hr:Mak Dizdar


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