Although in an aphoristic style he says that art begins where / theorising ends the authentic mental orientation of Jovica Ivanovski’s poetry is present in all poems from all cycles, which is also true of the poems in the cycle bearing the epithet “thinking”. But reflexivity for this poet certainly means avoiding self-absorbed self-importance and whistling in the wind around clichés. It is quite understandable that the poet’s mental range encompasses poetry itself, paradoxically defined as: Escaping from yourself, this is poetry / In the meantime you are looking for yourself – that’s poetry too (…) Overdressed poems are like whores / with flashy make-up and raped Christmas trees. – That’s why the poets (and non-poets) find simplicity / as a turn-on. Jovica Ivanovski is a poet who doesn’t want to walk on threaded snow and along predictable paths. In his poems behind each corner a new surprise and a new paradox emerge. Even when some verse or verses resemble the instant wisdom wrapped in a proverb, the poet can show us a completely unexpected, new and fresh aspect, such as: Life without fails / falls out of purpose.
It has been said many times that poetry, as well as art, deals with what is unique, different, and authentic to every creator, so Rilke said that “a poet is born in solitude”. Songs from the “Particular” cycle often touch on the topic of the connection between loneliness and the art of the word: Solitude is neither punishment, nor reward, / but only intense companionship with / your most faithful friend, poetry. As a kind of counterpoint, in the poems of the cycle “Others” the poetic focus is occupied by other people, and especially the hypocrisy which even Moliere called “fashionable vice”. Every human interacting with others discovers or recognizes different aspects of him/herself. In the poem “Individuals of Mom and Dad” one of the most contradictory phenomena of the human is skilfully implied, the primordial need to be different, unique, but also the comfort of identifying with a community: No two people are identical, no two stories / (twins can be most different). / Billions of individuals honoured with otherness. / Why does then each of them feel / most secure when in the crowd?
On the primordial water element, Ivanovski says in one place Water, we are made up of it (we are mobile pools), so it is not surprising at all that one of the epithets for the human is “aquatic”. Without it the thirst will drink us – points out the poem “Some Faces of Water”, and in the poem “Some Other Faces of Water” the poetic images indicate the dichotomous nature of water (but also of the entire nature) as a source of life, but a potential cause of death as well: It can both be the most potable and most cruel (…) Otherwise, it will drink us / like the thirsty one water.
Ever since his first poetry book to this day, Jovica Ivanovski’s poetry is closely linked to the urban, the rhythm and the breath of the street and the city, so in his vision, the human is inseparable from the street, as in the poems from the cycle “Street”. The open-air songs in this book address both the changes in the city’s landscape with the change of seasons (such as spring in the poem “Brazen Bitch”) and the gradual disappearance of the city’s flora (Spring without lilac is like winter without quilt) and the immutability of the Skopje iconography on the issue of polluted air, but also the changes in the habits of city dwellers, as in the poem “On the quay”: Tracksuits running for stamina (…) Two stents passed each other with five bypasses.
Poetry allows one to speak of oneself as if speaking about someone else, and when speaking of others to refer to oneself. Jovica Ivanovski is a poet who skilfully and unintentionally exploits this opportunity of poetic transfigurations. Thus, in the poems of the cycle “”The Other”, as if talking about someone else, he says: He is not afraid of the minister of culture, but of non-culture. So, the poem “Memories, as if someone else’s”, suggests the topic of the ocean of memories from another, different, tamer time, which make the one now remembering feel as if he/she is someone else. That paradox of the human in time and time in the human is also orchestrated in the poems from the cycle “Time(ly)”. Worm-eating apple (…) An eternal child the oldest of all – these are some of the poetic images that capture the time in these poems, the time that relentlessly and unmistakably eats everything, anything and everyone, time that no one can beat: Everything built / will be destroyed. But while in one place he says that time is less and less / and real people / even lesser, in this memento mori by Jovica Ivanovski there is also room for human hope: Only the end can give birth / to a new beginning.
Jovica Ivanovski is a poet who is a vigilant and lucid observer of reality, a poet who knows and can be brutally honest and open with himself and others, a poet who, with rock’n’roll rebellion, rejects the conformism, the false glow and the fashionable opportunism that dominate the present. Those features of his poetry flow through all of his books and throughout the entire book Human, and are fully expressed in poems from the “Observing”, “Lecherous”, and “Fighting” cycles: not accepting propaganda demagogues, not accepting neither pink glasses, nor sweeping the horrors under the rug, nor hypocrisy, but neither silence before the tsunami of false values, Jovica Ivanovski’s poetry in these poems is at times openly rebellious and engaging, at times (self) ironic and sarcastic, at times shocking and lascivious, but always sincere and humane. In these poems, which are not easy at all, the poet dares to say the diagnoses of diseases of our time, diagnoses we all know, but hardly anyone dares to whisper or write, for example, the combination of apathy and voyeurism in which today’s world is sinking: Nobody cares about anything, and everyone / knows everything about everyone (…) For humanity the human / has always been in the first place, / and at the same time in the last.
In such a dehumanized world the last three cycles of the poetry collection (called “Loving”, “Alone” and “Earthly”) deal with love, tranquillity and acceptance, as some kind of a triptych. In one of the poems we come across one of the most beautiful poetic “definitions” of love: What is love if not foolishness, / illogicalness, insanity… / Super-humanity that also affects humans.
This very year (2019) the world celebrates the 2,500th anniversary of the ancient philosopher Protagoras birth, known by the “man as a measure” syntagm.
As the most beautiful coincidence, the poetry book Human by Jovica Ivanovski, in which every cycle, but also every poem touches upon one of the many faces of a human, offers us poetry as a “measure” of the human.