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Zvonko Taneski

Zvonko Taneski

Zvonko Taneski (1980) is a Macedonian poet, literary critic, translator and university professor, living and working in Slovakia.  In 2007 he defended his PhD. thesis from “Theory and history of Slovak literature” at the Department of Slovak Literature and Literary Science on Comenius University in Bratislava. He now works on the same University as an associate professor on Department of Slavic Philology in Faculty of Arts. Author of six books of poetry: "Opened doors" (1995, Kuboa), "The Choir of Rotten Leaves" (2000, Matica makedonska), "The Ridge" (2003, Magor), „Chocolate in portfolio" (2010, Blesok), "Necking without warranty card" (2012, Kočo Racin) and "Waiting history" (2016, Antolog). His poems has been translated into numerous languages and published in the national literary periodicals, as well as in the foreign. In the year of  2013 he has received a Golden medal "Poet laureate" from the Axlepin Publishing in Manila (Philipines) and in year 2015 he has received а high Plague for wholesome poetry the Rector of Varna University on festival "Slavic hugs" in Varna, Bulgaria.




Why didn't they let me change the room

and make me feel better,

now that even the critics are allowed to change their views

and earn more space in the magazines?


They all went for large and bright rooms

with evidently functional furniture,

and I didn't even complain about the only one new, but hard armchair,

no trace of the second one, though there should've been a pair,

just like literature is inseparable from the science about it.


Why was I not standard guest when choosing the bed,

and was so resolute in my desire to experiment?


Literature needs fresh love masks for modeling:

a water-bed, an exotic partner with different skin color, faith,

an unexpected adventure...


But not much depended on, I thought, what view the window had,

everything depended on where and who she'd look at

and who she'd recognize.

"Each room has a mirror", so I hope mine would have one too,

for it shouldn't, by any means, be an exception to the rule.


Why does my head look like a syntagmatic axis

though it is laid softly on the pillow,

and becomes a hypertext when it sinks in deep sleep?


Shouldn't they have let me change my room?


Translated into English by Zoran Ancevski.

English language editor: Lee Schweninger.





When is this Indian summer outside going to end

that’s threading even under my trousers?

When is the meteorological hygiene class going to start

that I’ve awaited for so long?


I’m still in the autumnal shower 

that’s diluting my professional profile,

that’s driving me to hesitation,

to passivity,

in the choice of a literary mentor,

of a tutor that recommends a homework-reading list,

of a supervisor with a point of view,

of a reviewer with a sharpened dioptre,

that controls the stylistic steps,

that examines them,

that terminates,

that ties (down),

that moulds


Will I burst this metal armour?


Will I break the bars of the zoological garden?


When winter comes, I’ll bow low to her on my knees,

but then I’ll laugh in her face, because she’s late

like a native’s clock in the countryside…


I’ve been put under investigation, under inspection,

by the Slovakian writers, by the unknown,

by the hidden,

by the unrevealed,

by the yet-undiscovered,

here on the black floor,

they’re filling the white spots

like plaster for shallow holes,

for small openings,

for scant gaps,

for escaping to the other side -

from there-elsewhere to peep

or secretly at me

like paparazzi


(Translated by Jovana Stojkovska)



Is it possible?


Can my literature professor give me her

juvenile poetry to read?,

it’s bound to embody subtle motifs, -

I want to know why she’s given up

the occupation now -

maybe I’ll even discover it.


Or could we have a talk

about the planned Umberto Eco course,

about promise, about help,

about mystique, about ambiguity?


May I assist in her

PhD thesis

as an inspiration, as a worm, as an anxiety,

as turmoil, as a streak of coffee over a written line?


Can we consult European literature

about it –

why we’ve found each other at the same place,

at (n)one time, like kid-mathematicians

solving a linear equation?


May we then give Mathematics a broom

so it can brush off all equations

and leave us at a duel

to challenge each other in verse?


Language could then take a break.


Is it possible?!



(Translated by Jovana Stojkovska)



I Wanted To Write


I wanted to write you a poem -

to strip you of all the metaphors, metonyms and epithets,

so that you be the naked truth,

official and recognized by the authorities

as a conclusive proof in self-defence


I wanted to write you a message

to describe you descending towards me

with a collected look,

without looking round

in case you’re being followed by anyone

untamable or indecent


I wanted to write you an e-mail,

to arise in your virtual tenderness,

and spend the ’ntire night lonesome in front of a running monitor -

so that my eyes don’t burn out in the dark -

before they get to see you in person

after a longer while


I wanted to write you a letter,

to reward you with mercy

so that you have it in reserve or in surplus

whenever you forget to smile

when greeting


I wanted to write but I’ve changed the plan.

So I further continue to want.



(Translated by Jovana Stojkovska)


A Trial Against Disloyalty. Good Luck!

“The fur merchant of Milan Gino Casamanagi,
is the owner of an unsigned and unfinished painting
for which there are potential claims
that it belongs to the great Austrian painter Gustav Klimt”,
Il Giorno
informed, in front of the new judges
in order to take the oath that they’ll be faithful
to justice and that they’ll bring disloyalty to trial in every sense
(they didn’t specify exactly, not to be taken pretentiously!)

The jury, in protest, refused to cook them tea,
because (they explained!) the steam could affect concentration
when the hand will be putting the signature of its future,
even though the occupation allows freedom of movement
and cross-examination of feelings…

At the same time, they were neither allowed to drink brandy,
since it acts as a multivitamin,
i.e. as doping
and some might even take it as bribing?!

Their essays were prepared by high-ranking economists,
specialized in free-time-literary work
and in creative-writing lessons,
since they found their pay and calling insufficient for
full self-realization
(or they’d striven, even in their youth, to change
their profession but didn’t succeed!)

A tragicomedy, obviously. After the classic division, right:
the tragic for the Big
the comical for the Small

Then why don’t you stick to the new French fashion
in your dress
when you come to work?, wondered
the main character as the hero of the forgotten lower class.

And once again, the prosaic prevailed, in the end,
His Majesty
laughed off his poetic first.
Good Luck!

Translated by Jovana Stojkovska


A White View

“This evening I’m a dragon”,
said the dumb narrator between the lines,
without looking closer at the birthday figure
which resembled a crocodile.
But it doesn’t matter, what’s important is that when read –
it generates laughter,
that’s the long-sought-after effect
in the long-ago-printed works:
not proofread, yet heavily censored
by the best friends, of course – positively,
since otherwise all privileges are lost
which go without saying and should be returned
in similar occasions.

It’s best, therefore, between us – narratoresque dumbly,
to admit that you’re giving up all such responsibilities –
you need no further flattery and rivalry,
yet do not just as well stop creating,
the curious ones are waiting thirstily to lap up
the new hit.
It’ll be a good lesson, not only for the young.
For the elderly, even more.

And in the white night, when you cannot see
even the dot in front of you,
white is nothing
white is darkness
white is blind love

Give me some light!
loudly implored the implicit author
after returning from the arranged meeting
with the implied audience.

“It is behind closed doors that one can analyze
most openly”,
he later inferred.

Translated by Jovana Stojkovska





Phraseologisms keep turning in my head

like KIA motors in Slova-KIA,

accelerated with a Korean tempo (Northern or Southern?!)

which can even change from Active into Passive,

though thus it has nothing in common

with the verbal forms in Mistrik’s grammar,

but it works by inertia, un-linguistically,

it moves by intuition,

and stops at a carwash,

in Purgatory.


What follows is solving puzzles –

a family pack offered at a discount

at the supermarket with a hyper-prefix,

a Czech product adjusted to foreign conditions too

and flexible for neighborly methods,

for transport, for consumption,

suitable for summit gifts,

with unlimited duration,

without an expiry date,



Tomorrow we must go bowling, darling!,

to try our luck

in the knocking down of pins,

perhaps we’ll find yet another proof

that “the red” 60s are epitomized

in “the golden” literary 80s, and the rest

up until today,

remains to the Concretists.


For how much longer is my personal experience (the body in the spirit!)

going to iron my shirts

and clothes for walking across the meridians?


(Translated by Jovana Stojkovska)



A Good Hunter

Bratislava, 29.10.2003


One, two and oops!

I’m falling asleep again,

I’m followed by fatigue everywhere,

it won’t release the repose from its claws,

it won’t allow me to sprout,

to open my eyes that shine like neon lights

with an expired date,

to palpate the world through the pulse of a neurotic

obliged to take a daily dose of opium

since he lacks a car to take him to infusion.


Two, three and down!

the tongue is fooling around with its forms,

with its function of a policeman on duty,

trying to examine my alimentary canal

how it swallows the grammatical rules:

as sweets, as chocolate, as a novel.


A bad game, muse!

No sooner have we got used to linguistic labour

than there go the men of letters with their fantasy –

to look for cracks in the tongue,

to deepen their imagination.


So is there now a volunteer to stop them in their search?

A good hunter, perchance?



(Translated by Jovana Stojkovska)





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