About poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “They measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit, and they are themselves perhaps the most sincerely astonished at its manifestations; for it is less their spirit than the spirit of the age.”
Shelley could have been speaking of Edin Viso and his new book, Balkan Tattoo.
Edin still calls himself a proud Yugoslav, even though Yugoslavia died 20 years ago—hacked apart by ethnic and nationalistic violence. Balkan Tattoo, a book of poems and poetic narrative, comes from the pain of living through this devolution, of seeing human ties and simple civility dissolve. And still, it’s a book of hope, of recovery, of faith, of intense personal perception, of finding a home in exile. In these poems, Edin has penetrated the zeitgeist of not merely the Balkans, but of our intimate connections to place, time, and each other. He has taken soundings of the human spirit, and so has touched on the universal longing in us all: to be, for each other.
Balkan Tattoo is beautiful, dark, surprising and delightful… Words of love / Come rare and sudden / As love itself. / Yield up those words. / Let their difficult gift / Pass your lips. / Yield tip at least the shadow / Of what I most want to hear. / The rest I can build myself.