AnAnalysis of Two Pieces from Semezdin Mehmedinovic’s Sarajevo Blues
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AnAnalysis of Two Pieces from Semezdin Mehmedinovic’s Sarajevo Blues
SemezdinMehmedinovic is one of the most renowned writers and poets in Bosnia.Mehmedinovic is recognized for writing four books and making films.Some of his famous works are Mizaldoand SarajevoBlues.Mizaldowas among the first films shown in Bosnia during the recent waragainst Herzegovina. The movie was a success as evident by itsinclusion in the Berlin Film Festival back in 1994. Mizaldograbbed the first prize at another event, the Mediterranean Festival,held in Rome in 1995. Following the war, the author, along with hisfamily, went to the United States as political refugees and settledin Alexandria, Virginia. Another renowned work of Mehmedinovic is thehaunting and spare SarajevoBlues. Hauntingbecause it was written at the time when there was ongoing horrificevents of the war. During those periods, Mehmedinovic continued tobecome a Sarajevo citizen and was actively participating during thewar in the resistance movement of the city. SarajevoBlues waspublished in 1992 and became a channel which gave a form to variousBosnian writers who were at that time, living their lives in exile. This paper posits that Mehmedinovic, as an author, is a wise guy forhe used his skills in writing to create a book that would convey hispersonal sufferings and the sufferings of the citizens of Bosniaduring the Bosnia-Herzegovina war. This paper analyzes the two poemstitled EssayandWoundedParks.
SarajevoBlues depictsa story of Bosnia under siege. The author resided in the city andnarrates the resistance that the people had to patriotic commitment.This book was one of Biblioteka series, which provided Bosnianwriters a tool where they can discuss their insights about the stateof Bosnia during the war while they were still in exile. SarajevoBlues ismade up of a set of poems and vignettes that depict various imagesfrom the devastated city. The book delivered a sense of helplessnessin Mehmedinovic’s character. Destroyed by the battle, the entirecity suddenly appeared strange.
Inthis book, Mehmedinovic wrote beautifully and delivered anunforgettable everyday urban life during the civil war. SarajevoBlues wasnot merely about bearing witness, even though that would besplendidly enough, it was likewise revealing the fragile ways inwhich reality is gathered together and presented as somethingbearable and comforting. Because at the end of the day, the mainfocus of living is dying, realities that people opt to neglect solong as they can. The objective of reality is to hide the truth aboutdeath, and as such Mehmedinovic uncovered the various lies aboutreality, starting with the untruthfulness behind the life eternal.Mehmedinovic, in SarajevoBlues, recognizedthat the downfall of reality in the city of Sarajevo was unswervinglyrelative to the ubiquity of mankind’s mortality, which thus makesSarajevo distinct from other places on earth.
TheBosnian-Herzegovina War in the Context of Semezdin Mehmedinovic’sSarajevo Blues
InBosnia-Herzegovina,there arose conflicts among three primary ethnic groups namely theMuslims, the Serbs, and the Croats (Historyplace.com “Genocidein the 20th Century: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1992-95”).This conflict resulted to genocide which was initiated by the Serbsin opposition to the Muslims who were in Bosnia. Bosnia is among themany small nations that developed following the separation ofYugoslavia. The latter was made up of religious and ethnic groupsthat became rivals. During the Second World War, Germany invadedYugoslavia. This war led to the defeat of the Germany and theestablishment of Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, andMontenegro. In 1980, a new leader arose by the name of SlobodanMilosevic who initiated the tensions between Muslims and Serbs in theprovince of Kosovo. Serbs claimed that they were being maltreated bythe Muslims. In 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence fromYugoslavia which later resulted to Civil War (Historyplace.com).Yugoslavian Army which was mostly made up of Serbs invaded theterritory of Slovenia but was not able to control the separatists andlater withdrew after fighting for ten days. On the contrary, a newgovernment of Croat appeared to be reviving fascism and mandateddiscriminatory policies which targeted the Serbs. Through the help ofSerbian guerillas, the Serbs’ forces started to invade territoriesto secure the safety of the Serbian minority. In Vukovar, the Serbsattacked the Croats for 86 days and turned the city into rubble.After the downfall of Vukovar, the Serbs started the first masskillings of the conflict, murdering hundreds of men. The Croats menwere buried in mass graves. The Serbs continued to become the bestarmed group and gained great military advantage.
In1992, the European community and the United States chose toacknowledge Bosnia’s independence. Bosnia is a Muslim nation where32% of the entire population is made up of Serbs. Upon thedeclaration of independence, Sarajevo was attacked. Sarajevo is acity that is known for being a host during the Winter Olympics in1984. In Sarajevo, there were snipers everywhere that continuallykilled helpless civilians who were in the streets. This resulted tothe death not just of adults but also of 3500 children. Bosnians wereoutgunned while the Serbs continued to gain ground. They renderedmass shootings, confinement in concentration camps, and forcedrepopulations. Muslim families were terrorized and fled to theirvillages. Women and girls were raped. For the Serbs, they refer totheir actions as a form of ethnic cleansing. On that same year, 1992,US President Bill Clinton launched an attempt that was geared atunifying the Croats and Bosnian Muslims against the armed Serbs. Butthis alliance was not successful in stopping the Serbs from causingattacks in various Muslim towns. Genocidal activities emerged. Boysand men, twelve and sixty years old, were slaughtered. This wasrecognized to be the worst mass killing in Europe from the time ofthe Second World War. Serbs also continued to mass rape many femaleMuslims. In 1995, the United States led a massive bombing campaign toput an end to Serbs’ mass killings. Serbs lost ground to Muslims inBosnia. Eventually, half of the city was retaken by Croats andMuslims troops.
Thepoem titled Essaytalksabout the author’s evening walk during the war. He mentioned someof the images he encountered during that evening. He cited the planethat was sparkling over the town suddenly disappearing in the bluishdusk. The word ‘bluish dusk’ was used to depict the setting ofthe poem which was evening time in Bosnia. The author expressedsorrow for the fate of a woman who “went back to the street to lookfor her lost earring” and for the boy who was “staring at himselfin his bike’s bell” (Mehmedinovic 11). The author also felt sorryfor the old man who was “waving at the bridge” (Mehmedinovic 11).Perhaps the main reason why the author stated this in the poem was toshow the exact occurrence during the Bosnian war in which people onthe streets were mass murdered through gun shots. Hence, theysuddenly disappeared, leaving their life and entering death. Throughthis event, the author’s mother informed him to always rememberthat God never leaves. The author also illustrated the situation ofBosnia through his poem titled WoundedParks inwhich he mentioned about “trees being cut down in the city”(Mehmedinovic 59). Chainsaws were heard everywhere and several menpulled a cable which was used to wrap around a big tree and pull itdown until the area became barren. The ground was being cleared tosignal the invasions. The man being depicted in the poem wearing “anew suit” and “has grey hair” may well perhaps refer to theleader of the Serbs in their invasions along the Croats and Muslimsterritories (Mehmedinovic 59). Trees everywhere were cut down even incemeteries, parks, and everywhere. The author posits that if he doesnot do anything to what was happening, they would all suffer theconsequences later on especially that winter is coming. People woulddie because of extreme cold. The trees that used to protect them wereall cut down. The two poems were real depictions of the events duringthe Bosnian War. People were mass murdered and the entire city wasturned into rubble.
Historyplace.com,.`The History Place – Genocide in the 20th Century: Bosnia-Herzegovina1992-95`. N. p., 1999. Web. 22 May. 2014.
Mehmedinović,Semezdin, and Ammiel Alcalay. SarajevoBlues.1st ed. San Francisco, Calif.: City Lights Books, 1998. Print.
Smith.edu,`The Poetry Center At Smith College`. N. p., 1998. Web. 22 May. 2014.