Milorad Krystanovich was born in Croatia and has lived in Birmingham since 1992. He studied Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham and is a member of Writers Without Borders, Cannon Poets and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Milorad works as a language teacher at the Brasshouse Centre in Birmingham. Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010) is his sixth poetry collection, and follows on from The Yasen Tree (Heaventree Press, 2007).
“You don’t need to imagine me – a man with his photo camera hanging from its strap on his shoulder. For you, I would describe myself as a photographer whose hobby was not a simple black and white technique of evidencing the elements of everyday life … Later on, instead of developing films in a dark-room, I used my notebook and pen and exposed my hands to the lamplight.”
– Milorad Krystanovich
“In Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010), Milorad Krystanovich releases the characters trapped in the tableaux of negatives, and breathes into them a remarkable life of their own. Portraits step down from their frames and exist amongst us; before our eyes they age and alter, ponder their own flaws, confines and mysteries.
Krystanovich’s beautifully-detailed series of poems explore the spaces between images and populate them with a patient and delicately-balanced language that moves in circles and echoes, creating a lyrical resonance in the act of both observing and being observed. Freeze-frame fragments become striking and graceful poem-scenes, alive with moments tangible and fleeting, just out of reach or coming into focus at the edge of sight.”
There on the silhouette of this city,
not only the air is bearing
the sign of dusk:
the streetlights cannot turn
their cones upside down
to floodlight the lower sky,
the moss hangs from these street lamps
and expand its shade
but I am missed from that line of green.
There is no division between the evening’s
drama and its denouement
in the dark over the hilly outskirts:
the cat’s eyes are glowing
between the cars on the motorway
where the noise cannot settle down.
Staring at the moon’s capable ascension,
my dog is no longer my companion.
I am left alone in the myth of the earth.
Out of Darkrooms
The lady and the castle-builder
walk along the beach,
a camera hanging around her neck,
his shadow slipping away.
Are you listening to me?
Taking the photograph of a trough,
she cannot hear her own voice
or his reply – yes, if you are the sea.
Wave after wave feeds the moats
around the sand castles,
the breeze creeping across her hair
but not blowing it across the lens.
Are you following the boat?
He paddles in the shallows
and cannot hear himself or her response –
yes, if its sail matches my skirt.
The summer air laces to its frame
in the picture of the low sky:
coping with the sound of water,
the afternoon is their only burden.
She is a photographer of happy faces,
her eyes can see
above the surface of objects:
the sails of her images are anchored
in the place alighted on the glitter
rocking in the fluid for processing films.
She is a darkroom magician
who takes photographs of wakened vases
and new flower pots
but roses, blossoms, wild flowers
appear on the white walls of her studio.
The light of her pictures is brighter
than daylight from the sky’s cupola:
to benefit from her album-niche
he has to shape his sight less carefully,
so as to collect the scattered details of life.
Ripe fruits fall from the branch
as the orchard fears itself
alone in the autumn avalanche:
the quince could not stain grass,
its new home beneath the tree.
In the house full of reflecting objects
only the tongue of a grandfather clock
moans for the past:
as no-one throws earth into a grave,
the echo grows from a coffin.
Whoever consumes air now
between the farm and the graveyard
ruins the arch of stillness:
no-one comes to this empty room
and gathers the quince’s smell
by the fruit basket.
The nightwear folded on a bed
and the note with the marks
of his finger-bones jointly bear silence.
Frost peels birches outdoors,
as he journeys by his hand –
the ink-thread tracks the changes of address.
Recycling moonlight is set
to the letter of bloodlines in an envelope,
the silence runs among the cold interior.
Ash has lost its warmth,
the fire-place knows of other flames
where he can lay his breath.
Not the bird in its cage
but the love-song still haunts her:
each breath struggles –
melting the snowflake
of his kiss on her lip.
Even the word never appears
to be made from ice –
the frozen feather
like a hand-wave flies
over the iron fence:
Is your hand yours
as you wave from the park?
Though he is a birdwatcher
he cannot listen to the bird’s notes:
Iron is iron as cold is cold,
two sides of the iron are
the same colour of cold.
The gate bars are painted
in green from his side,
in yellow-brownish from hers,
and the sliding gate is still between them.
from Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
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