American Poetry in the Field of Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Poetic Cultures

After World War II, American poetry became extremely influential, both in the capitalist and the socialist blocs. Its presence was especially visible in Socialist Yugoslavia. American poets came to Yugoslavia, performed at festivals and poetry readings and so established friendly relations with poets. They recorded their experiences in essays or poems and later, in their memoirs. Also, Yugoslav poets went to the United States, studied the American culture, researched the rich poetry scene, and wrote about it in their essays and poems. While the American poets through poetry recorded their experience of living in a completely different political and social context of a socialist open country, translating their poetry became a tool for transforming the local Yugoslav poetic practices. But it should be pointed out that the reception of poetry is always an active process of assimilation and hybridization.

In this mutual exchange, beat poetry occupies a special place. It is a significant part of the American counterculture. Its non-conformist spirit was expressed in the poetry itself and in the essays written by poets. On the international scene, this influenced the change in writing and opinions about poetry. Beat poetry was significant because it was connected to the American popular culture which spread internationally and entered spaces of the socialist societies. It was the center of attention because it influenced a fundamental change in the Yugoslav poetry while also introducing new ideas of the transformation of everyday life.

Intense interaction continued even after the disintegration of socialist Yugoslavia. New generations of post-Yugoslav poets, through their texts and translations, continue to deal with American poetry.

Presentation and Discussion

Taking part in the discussion:
Dubravka Đurić, Vladislav Bajac, Nina Živanćević, Biljana D. Obradović, Gregor Podlogar, Damir Španić, Elizabeta Šeleva, Zoran Ančevski, Damir Španić, Ana Miljanić. 


  • 1952 - 1960 -

    The first local anthology of American poetry, Američka lirika (American Poetry), is released by Zora, Zagreb, translated and edited Ivan Slamnig and Antun Šoljan.

  • 1960 -

    The first anthology of subversive poetry is published in the United States, titled The New American Poetry 1945-1960, featuring the poetry of beatniks, the Black Mountain College, the New York School, the San Francisco Renaissance, and others. Donald M. Allen (ed.), The New American Poetry 1945-1960, Grove Press Inc., New York, 1960.

  • 1975 -

    African American poet Clarence Major is a guest at the Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia, where other participants include poets from Non-Aligned countries, with the laureate poet being politician and then president of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor.

  • 1979 -

    Vladislav Bajac and Vojo Šindolić, on their own initiative, compile and translate the self-published anthology Pesnici bit generacije (Poets of the Beat Generation) in a pocket edition. In the same edition, Šindolić also publishes his own selection and translations from the collected works of Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1982), Gary Snyder (1983) and Michael McClure (1984).

  • 1980 -

    Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky visit Belgrade and are featured at literary evenings by Vladislav Bajac, Vojo Šindolić, Nina Živančević and Ivana Milankov. Besides Belgrade, they also visit Vršac and Dubrovnik.

  • 1982 -

    Jerome Rothenberg visits Belgrade and, with anthropologist Vladimir Živančević, works on translating Serbian folk poetry as part of his “Ethnopoetics” project.

  • 1986 -

    The Sarajevo journal Lica (Faces), publishes special thematic inserts with the title „Bit poezija: šta je to?” (“Beat Poetry: What is it?”) in its September and October editions.

  • 1991 -

    The Association of Serbian Writers and the City Library in Belgrade and the Association of Writers of Vojvodina in Novi Sad feature language poets Charles Bernstein and James Sherry. They are presented by Dubravka Đurić, Vladimir Kopicl and David Albahari.

  • 1993 -

    Allen Ginsberg performs in Belgrade in the Dom Omladine (Belgrade Youth Center).


Dubravka Đurić (Dubrovnik, 1961) is a full professor at the Faculty of Media and Communications at the University of Singidunum in Belgrade. She specializes in media theory and literary theory and writes poetry. Since 2015 she has been the president of the Serbian Association for Anglo-American Studies. She is one of the founding members and the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the ProFeminine journal for women’s literature and culture (1994-2011). She was a lecture at the Center for Women’s Studies and Communications in Belgrade. She is the founder of Ažinova škola poezije i teorije (Azhin’s School of Poetry and Theory) (1996-2006). From 1982 to 1986 she was a member of the informal theoretical-artistic Zajednice za istraživanje prostora (Association for Exploring Space) and one of the editors of its newsletter, Mentalni prostor (Mental Space).

She published numerous studies (such as: Globalizacijske izvedbe: književnost, mediji, teatar (Performances of Globalization: Literature, Media, Theater) (2016), Diskursi popularne kulture (Discourses of Popular Culture) (2011), Politika poezije – Tranzicija i pesnički eksperiment (Political Poetry – Transition and Poetic Experimentation)),  co-edited numerous anthologies (such as: Serbian poetry Cat Painters: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry (2016), Impossible Histories – Historical Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991 (2003, 2006), Diskurzivna tela poezije: Poezija i autopoetike nove generacije pesnikinja (A Discursive Body of Poetry: Poetry and autopoetics in the new generation of female poets) (2004)), published works and poetry collection translations. Her poetry has been translated into English, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Albanian, and Italian.

Photo: Carls Bernstin


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