This week's editorial is written by Agnes Marton:
Having grown up in Hungary, I can say I'm quite familiar with Balkan brass bands: decades ago, I often had the opportunity to listen to the live music of Emir Kusturica, Goran Bregović and (one of our featured artists) Boban Marković. First in clubs, then in world music festivals and the Sziget Festival.
Recently, but before the lockdown, I could revisit this experience at major, sophisticated international venues like the Royal Albert Hall and Philharmonie Luxembourg. It made me feel the same mix of awe and haunting disappointment as Milan Kundera as a French writer or the late movies of Milos Forman. Less of the rough core, more winks at the "West". Becoming and being part of the canon.
However, when the Boban Marković Orchestra performs "Mesečina" from the movie Underground, here comes the melancholy: the rhythmic shouts of "Kalashnikov" still remind me, besides the rifles, of samizdat publications and Balkan strongmen, dictators and authoritarian rules.
Stupid and greedy power, and whether we contribute to it – isn't it what we contemplated when we focussed on the American elections and, even now, following the events in Belarus, when we're taken aback by Hungary and Poland's veto of the seven-year EU budget? In my poem "The Beast Turns Me Into A Tantrumbeast" this dilemma takes the form of a dialogue: "You are me (said the beast).//From now on/I'm your nameless shelter.//Fear my dreams/half-awake, run...//Don't pray,/dissolve/ in my summer breath." Our featured artist, Elke Trittel, also deals with these themes. If you have the impression that her "Trip into The Blue" is hinting at the American states where Biden got more votes, you are right.
Elsewhere, you can read poems written by Elodie Rose Barnes and Ben Morgan ("to keep off grief"), as well as a poetic duet between Roddy Lumsden and Fran Lock. We also offer an article on landscape and art by Colm Toibin and another playlist by Billy Bragg. There are other great pieces by John Lanyon, James Smith, Richard Williams, Tim Dooley, Brandon Robshaw, Noah Rasheta, Josephine Balmer, Louise Warren, Lawrence Wilson, Mark Connors, Maggie Mackay, Alistair Noon, Myriam Wordmaker, Jessica Sneddon and Chris Killip. Enjoy.
Agnes Marton is our Arts Editor. She also regularly contributes her own poems and translates the work of others.