Interview with Ivica Milivojevic (Serbia) - poet, postman & journalist
The Letter Writing Revival interviews Ivica Milivojevic - poet, postman & journalist:
LWR: What are your favourite things about Belgrade? Three things...
IM: It's quite simple – the amazing fact that we have something most wonderful in the very centre of the city, the Kalemegdan fortress that overlooks the confluence of the Sava river and the beautiful blue Danube. Then there's the monument in Republic Square to Prince Mihailo III Obrenović (who is just by accident on a horse), who did plenty of good things for Serbia. One of my favourite things is the initiative for building the first theatre, which is today the National Theatre. And, for sure, some rare good friends which make me smile all the time.
LWR: What (as a journalist) do you like to write about?
IM: Culture is my thing – music (classics, opera, ethno), theatre, art. I think I care about stuff that's not so popular for most people... Not so "in". I will do my best to change that, and to attract more people into Belgrade's cultural life. Also, I write about journeys... About my travels.
LWR: What´s on your cultural calendar this month?
IM: For this month there are few things on my agenda already. As usual, my favourite cultural place is the National Theatre, where I will finally watch Shakespeare's "Henry VI", the only Serbian production of Shakespeare that has ever been performed at the Globe Theatre! Also, I'm looking forward to a new ballet inspired by Disney's Peter Pan. And concerning my favourite genre, opera, this month: Puccini's "La Bohème" and Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor". Plus, I'll be going to see Massenet's "Werther" at the Sofia State Opera. Besides this, the National Museum has just opened an exhibition of the most famous pictures of Paja Jovanović, one of the greatest Serbian painters. And next weekend I will also go to visit Belgrade's Mummy, in a brand new exhibition, after almost one century that this item has been hidden from public view.
LWR: You said you´re passionate about Serbian poets and poetry, tell me more...
IM: Guilty as charged. I have discovered XX century Serbian poetry and poets and see them as an enormous treasure, but, sadly, not many people share my opinion. Most of them, I'll list just few – Desanka Maksimović, Milan Rakić, Đura Jakšić, Vladislav Petković Dis, Branko Miljković, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj – were singing about great eternal love, mostly unhappy; about sweet pain which made them treasure true love much much more... About dreams, anticipations and desires.
LWR: "A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman." Do you agree? (quote from Wallace Stevens)
IM: I'm not sure in what context Stevens said that. If he meant like 'every man to any woman', with huge curiosity and interest, exploring her and dreaming of her – then probably yes. But, if we're talking about one man finding 'the one', his perfect woman (what Laura was to Petrarch, or Beatrice to Alighieri), then the poet, being a man himself, will then cease to care about the world, because his only preoccupation in life will be the ultimate passion and love that he feels for that one perfect woman. In this second state the poet will say 'let other men look at the world.'
LWR: And you have a library project underway at home?
IM: Yes, you're referring to my crucial life project. I'm dreaming of it – lots and lots of books, both organised and just randomly left somewhere. Abandoned... Imagine shelves from the bottom to the top of the walls, like you see in some movies – right now I can think of just one: 'Beauty and the Beast' the animation movie.
LWR: I´d say that you have the largest collection of postcards in the whole of Serbia, which is your favourite?
IM: The largest? Not sure about that [smiles]. And it's not possible to choose, there are so many special ones; sent by dear people, with kind messages, so that every single one becomes my favourite. But I will choose – waterfalls... That's my most favourite scene for sure. And just two days ago I got a new one with an image of Iguazu falls – a new favourite one, for a while...
LWR: What do you think of the Letter Writing Revival?
IM: As someone who never stopped writing letters by hand (except official ones), I'm always happy to meet more people who do the same, people who care about old ways, and who know that kindness is of great importance. And because of them I know that I'm not crazy. So, I support your project completely, if I can benefit it in any way don't hesitate to ask.
LWR: You're benefiting it right now! My last question. What was the greatest letter that you ever received or wrote?
IM: It's so not fair to ask this question, as I find that every received letter is the greatest one. Also, I can just hope that people think the same about letters that I wrote. But, lets say, the greatest letters were those that came suddenly, when you don't expect them... Those bring a wide smile to your face and warmth to your heart. I got one a few days ago, from far far Argentina... A very special one.
LWR: Thank you Ivica, the Letter Writing Revival salutes you! Keep up the good work, there's hope for us.
IM: You're welcome. It was a pleasure.
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