Nina Živančević

I Made Up My Mind : I’m definitively Leaving NYC

Because I’m tired of looking at sky in rectangular concrete chips,
Because F.Scott Fitzgerald & Mr.West were starving for two years while
Diving in a swimming pool
Because I’m not Greta Garbo and I don’t want to be alone
In my Brooklyn chicken-poxed incense impregnated $7.000000 a month apartment
Because the Marx brothers are not doing Animal Crackers this year on
Broadway, no rip ridin’ Will Rogers sermonizing for Flo Ziegfeld
Because the porcelain blue sky is hard to find aside from the air in b’twn
Why poor slum downtown reflects the cruel sins of my admirers
When it’s dawning in the blissful blessing of my aspirins
New Year’s Day
Ding dong ding dong!
Twenty months of break dancing
In twenty moths three periods missing due to tingling poisonous metal effect
Of Avenue Mayor Koch gentrification
I am not Atlas in Rockefeller Center! But I am not Lana Turner either;
Thirty first is dead! Out with a zero and into the orbit-
There is a day tender as saffron: TODAY
Now that all of the pages are gone from my detective murder mystery
Calendar pastiche, the thing just says the word “today”
White letters on black cardboard, with a capital T., NYC
I am tremendously worried by my constant lack of Him
It was temporarily relief, a little night work because I can’t sleep
Because there are too many things that bother me like why do we
Have to live like rats? No Fred & Adele in taps over on 42nd & Sunset Blvd.,
Gloria Swanson got $900000 from Paramount in 1934
While I earn- “I don’ even want to mention that” and
Lana Turner had too many genuine fits for poodles and
Liz Taylor had 900 fur coats but did not overdose like Judy
Garland of the flowers!
And God bless Betty Ford, Happy Rockefeller, DeWolf Hopper
Abbe who says “Everybody’s gonna die for Nicaragua, but they
Won’t bury even their next door neighbor”,
What a bunch of horseshit lined 2nd Avenue in 1934 when
Gentlemen took the curbside for ladies and
Gentlemen please welcome
This new year,
It’s a pleasure to be here I’ve made up my mind I’m definitively leaving
(I stole that from Groucho I guess)

on New Year’s eve in Holy-wood,
3 hours before Steve de Souza’s party

Alba avis
(for Claude*)

Aliéna ne cures!
Aliéna negotia non curare…

And you take care of the aliens,
Of their alien wishes and affairs,
What thunder has struck your
Hollow brow?
Your thought
Dwelling between a void and
Latin quotations, my clear alien
Friend whom I befriended in
The most alien hour of my
Late springtime …
There is a fountain in Rome
Where the young brides used to drink water
So that they could have just sons;

If you’re not my belated father, then
You are probably my new-born son,
Caught in the web of summer insects
Craving for the morning light…

When the dinner’s over
And the stories got burnt to ashes,
We leave messages to one another:
That the wax had melted down,
That the bulls got pierced by sunshine
That the wine’s red and the crystal transparent
We say so many things
But the silence remains
While at the same time encouraging us to ride on
As we had already mounted
That melancholy horse again…

*“Claudius, the one who’s always closed”

Elysian Fields of Power

(For Stephanette, Ivana eventually)

So, Tiny Tom and Speedy Gonzales
Have had a Lab,
It was pretty much a physical thing,
They tried to outdo the topology of a body in space
From person A to person B ran the ‘power-field of
a person’, so, how would we envelope them
into our power-circle, if we were to say
‘I’m taking over a situation’?
You would say ’I don’t want to take a person
In my power-field, I want them to be free,
And besides, I’m not Pina Bausch or Vito Acconci’,

Documentation is more a referent than a remainder
And performance means
There’s an audience,
An event is an accident sometimes
And sometimes it’s steady and sleepy, like a video;
There may be people or not
A couple of technical by-products
But what always really counts is people
Who make decision whether
to be there or not to be
as we’re making a private
out of their public space
not everyone can get it…
we are just trying to become these buildings
themselves, a part of the architectural landscape,
surroundings which is
the other

A limine
(should I refuse it from the start?)

For Eric-(Aesotheric) Lerner

Perhaps I should say ‘no’ from the start
To this lonely year full of scaffolds
When energy flows in and out,
Like cold water oozing through a faucet;
Icy rain and snowfields, mangos for
Breakfast for our sparkling imagination,
-this is my second poem for you, my
Long-standing pal of abused poetry,
I see you in a workshop of good manners
And bad intentions, you would not shave
And hated washing your hair, and I was
Always there, absent-minded,
Trying to bring several friends back to life,
Those who appeared, but then disappeared in
The daily theatre of our vowels
And rusty consonants full of smoke.
One of them had a stroke,
And another one a jaw cancer, and the third one,
Oh, that one never died.
He ate daisies and cucumbers for lunch, and
I spoke to him in person, while I was dwelling
High, above in the sky.
You say you miss him a lot, I say: it’s fabulous
That we’ve ever met, appeared and then disappeared
On the sunny side of the street; it’s snowing a lot
Around here and all the smudges
Around my eyes remain prominent and natural by now…
There is no other Christmas gift for you
But this song and you know its special tune

Rollerskating Notes

It is so much better to get a pair of roller-skates
and set a poem free,
it is so much more interesting to see some friends once a year,
it is so much mucho painful to see some people every day
it is certainly much more subliminal to be left alone
write diaries or read an airconditioned Blaise Cendrars,
it is certainly much more useful to lie down, not
move, touch the earth, kiss the floor, embrace the door and
much more
perhaps just howl or hold someone dear to you,
it is certainly much more practical to fumble through invoices,
legal documents or unfinished galleys of a commercial publisher,
it is certainly much more satisfying to sit on a Kandahar balcony,
patting an Afghani hound in a lazy crystalline afternoon dusk,
it is certainly much more romantic to be Dracula’s lover or
Voltaire’s fellow-talker in a European gloomy castle,
or drink beer at CBGB’s with your ball chain and leather
psychedelic pals,
evidently, it takes much more effort to sign petitions
to set prisoners free, write phony mail
to iron-curtain cordial officials or answer useless or urgent
calls when your heart is on fire,
and it’s even more prestigious to keep up with the Tennessee
Song Lyrics contests or with scoops of the news from various
organizational gatherings claiming that you can still
print whatever you think
about the guy who stopped me on a street this morning
yelling out prophetic words at me and the one
I remembered was meant to hit me hard
below every inch of the belt
IF YOU wanna skate, he said,
and this glorious city, smaller than life,
will not let your poem
fly away with that one

Poet, essayist, fiction writer, playwright, art critic, translator and contributing editor to NY ARTS magazine from Paris, Serbian-born Nina Živančević has published 12 books of poetry. She has also written three books of short stories, two novels and a book of essays on Miloš Crnjanski (her doctoral thesis) published in Paris, New York and Belgrade. The recipient of three literary awards, a former assistant and secretary to Allen Ginsberg, she has also edited and participated in numerous anthologies of contemporary world poetry.

As editor and correspondent she has contributed to New York Arts Magazine, Modern Painters, American Book Review, East Village Eye, Republique de lettres. She has lectured at Naropa University, New York University, the Harriman Institute and St.John’s University in the U.S., she has taught English language and literature at La Sorbonne ( Paris I and V), and the History of Avant-garde Theatre at Paris 8 University in France and at numerous universities and colleges in Europe.

She has actively worked for theatre and radio: 4 of her plays have been performed and broadcast in the U.S. and Great Britain. In New York she had worked with the “Living Theatre” and the members of the “Wooster Group”.

She lives and works in Paris. She’s a contributing editor to Minor Literature(s).

The poems above are from a new, unpublished manuscript, Rollerskating Notes.
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