Zero Readership: An Epic
Author: Filip Marinovich
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2008)
"In his wily, edgy and hyperactive debut collection of thematically linked poems, Marinovich follows a prodigal grandson—ostensibly the poet—who returns to Belgrade, or 'Marinovichland,' over the course of five years. During each visit, the poet transcribes conversations and shapes them into 'typewriter portraits, ' poems meant to be like family photographs. Opening with the darkly beautiful 'Belgrade Eyes, ' Marinovich elegizes a relative who has committed suicide, unable to face 'twelve years of war.' Second-guessing his right to celebrate or mourn his own ethnic and familial history—'[w]ho are you to sing the dead you never knew?'—each poem comes closer to embracing the self-appointed role of bard journalist by addressing war and its aftermath in a removed albeit intimate manner: 'befriend radiation— / deal with traces of / depleted uranium bombing / by NATO in '99.' Later, Marinovich points out ironies in the U.S.: 'O look at this photo opportunity / a Non-President jogging with a soldier with a prosthetic right leg.' Ranging from the highly political to the sweetly playful and tenderly sentimental, Marinovich, who is neither outsider nor insider in either of his homes, reveals that national identity can be fluid when 'from one side or another / no one can be secure in the global cell.'"