Zdravko Kordić: »Ars poetica Janka Bubala«
Croatian literary critique accepted father Janko Bubalo as an important contemporary Croatian poet. It happened already in communist times, what makes it even more significant. As Franciscan and priest, he did not fit into the governing social image. However, his talent and courage of those who dared to recognise him overcame all the obstacles. Kordić briefly deals with all that in the short preface. He was not wrong, on the contrary! Inhuman communist times have left deep traces on fra Janko Bubalo as a man and as a poet. His inner personality belonged to another place, and his body was attached to them. This contributed to the creation of a specific poetry, woven out of lyrics, philosophy, theology. His way of expression flirted with Hermeticism. It helped Bubalo express in poem what he really wanted to express, but staying spared from prison, that is, from suppressing his further poetry writing, even from taking his life. Communism was not joking, only idle salon leftists believed it to be a hobby.
Zdravko Kordić deals with Bubalo in three unmarked chapters: the one about each particular Bubalo’s book; the other one about themes in Bubalo’s work; and finally, the one about language in Bubalo’s selected poems. Each of these chapters is significant, but to Kordić himself the most significant is the one about themes in Bubalo’s work. There he managed to accomplish a notable deed, he explained to us what he really believes about poetry and life around us. Speaking as a poet about a poet, he created a reading that might be read with a bit more interest than it is usually the case. He shows us that he originates from the same world as Bubalo, that he thinks of literature in the similar way as Bubalo does. That is why his words on Bubalo are close, warm and filled with interest. Still, it did not lower the threshold of his critical observation. He managed to demonstrate that we have before us a man and a believer on whose thoughts we should reflect in our mind, thus coming to understand the secret sides of life.
We might divide the work of Janko Bubalo also in the chapters: poetry, memoir prose and devout literature. His poetry is the most significant segment of his work; it is a locomotive pulling ahead his entire contemplation. However, it couldn’t do without being stranded on the cliffs of life. Bubalo speaks about that in his memoir prose »Apokaliptični dani« (Days of Apocalypse). It suffices to read the inscription: »to my brothers, butchered, while rose-dogs were blooming, and it was spring of the year one thousand nine-hundred forty-five« (page 45). Some parts of the International community deliberately have forgotten all about it, considering that they were responsible for that event, but Croatian poet did not forget, lie carried within his talent and his life and nation destiny as a mirror through which he observed himself. With the appearance of the Queen of Peace in Medugorje, he anticipated new, different days. When nobody wanted to, the Heaven was merciful, offering a comforting hand to the Croatian nation and to the entire world. Dog-roses were blooming in winter — to paraphrase Bubalo’s manuscript »Dog-roses were blooming, it was spring«, destroyed by humidity (heedfulness).
Kordić does not bother to point to a book that would represent the farthest reach of his poetry. He speaks of the each one in a way that he puts before us the wealth found within and in order to point to the shortcomings in relation to other of his poetry collections. Hence, the treasure of Bubalo's poetry is strewn in front of us in an instructing way. I believe he described him best in the following words: »Bubalo is a poet of poetry, simplicity and uniqueness of the order of beings and things in the world. Bubalo is a modern poet of fossils, archaism and researches of the original matter, poet of the invention, searching for the tree of conception, which is at the same time the stumbling tree!« (page 40). His poetry filled with images teaches us that this earth is transitory and that we should always search for answers to questions put before us every day. We have already mentioned that he was especially facing questions of the unnecessary human suffering caused to others only because of hatred. He was not able to forget about the Second World War, about the cry for freedom and a cry for the pain caused. He stopped writing, due to reasons known only to him, before that war, but it also contributed to the fact that he started writing again only in his mature age. Nevertheless, in a short time, he managed to crate a huge poetic work. Zdravko Kordić did well to take an effort and write this testimony-book about a poet in evil times, thus contributing to the strength and expansion of Bubalo’s speech. And it definitely makes sense to hear it today, unlike some other speeches much noised about.
Apart from Kordić, some other renowned Croatian writers have also spoken about Bubalo. But, it is not by a long shot enough. I dare to say that Bubalo deserves a much greater place than the one he now has in the literary world. The time has come to be able to speak openly about him and other like him. Or I should say — I hope the time has come. On the whole, Kordić opened the way towards discovering of yet another literary greatness. Thus he enriched not only Croatian literature in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in its entirety. We should be grateful for that, expecting to see other of our greatnesses come to the light, instead of mere forgeries.
• Publisher: Croatian Writers’ Association of Herzeg-Bosnia, Independent publishing, Mostar-Zagreb, 2005
• 196 pages • ISBN 9958-798-10-7
Most (The Bridge), 3-4, Društvo hrvatskih književnika / The Croatian writers’ association, Zagreb, November 2005, pages 72 – 73