Zero Readership: an Epic by Filip Marinovich

by The Editors

The conditions that divide and unify, those of family, country, and allegiance, become the limits for Filip Marinovich’s debut. No wonder, then, that Marinovich masters the art of engendering many voices. He wishes to document, at all costs, the world as he encountered it, free of politics but with imminent political overtones, unsullied by tragedy but never ignoring the tragedy in the past and the tragedy-at-hand. We are presented with the swollen mass, cumbersome and growing, sprawled and splayed. 

Within the progression, disparate speakers shout from the unifying medium of the poet-himself, so genuine pathos can be juxtaposed and complicated by documentation, surrealism, and transgr essions (for instance, incest is a theme). The multiplicity never negates, never dismisses, nor does it reduce or make relative the difficulty and paradox of family, allegiance, and the ego, as it develops.

Pursuing the demarcations and thrashing against them form the exuberant joy found within Zero Readership, like watching someone smash a soccer ball against a brick wall over and again, waiting to see which will break apart first, the ball, the wall, or the foot. Perhaps these are arbitrary constraints, stamps from a government no longer recognized by the poet:

        Now that I have my passport in my pocket
            sometimes I touch its soft blue cover and pages
                virginal, without one stamp--

Remarkably touching in the sense of the absolute moment of first receiving documentation as passports are most often judged by the wear, the number of stamps, how many places our state-sanctioned persons have gone. But the reverse is such a powerful thing, too. 

There is constant mistrust of something fixed, and there is no more potential to be unfixed then an unused passport. The unknown, the future, and the possible congeal into a dystopian Belgrade, a familiar-yet-strange language of family, where the guttural nuances of “Baba” explode into a discussion on the dangers of the dictionary. An excess and in excess of what the poet wanted, he begins to backtrack away from the liminal form, fearing that it might pop into that same type of ambiguous hell as theory gives. In the retrograde movement, we see the nimble poet redact earlier passion, “The fashionable politics of the young,” and want by finally naming the addressee from a series of epistles as Alicia. To know that name is a heartbreaking relief.

Zero Readership finds the connections, even if they are not comic or tragic, but mere facts, such as the awful truths of, “mass grave earth” and “the sarcophagus asleep in the marble quarry.” Marinovich seeks and finds such moments throughout his poems by balancing the dramatic moments against deflating understatements nestled within the energetic text.  The effects of that harmony can only occur within the ecstatic breadth of the poet as he brilliantly undercuts that sense in a quick line of action, “He hung up.” The line occurs after a confrontation with his grandfather regarding taking down pictures of Slobodan Milosovich. Here is a family held in a tenuous balance, nearly jeopardized by the reality of world events and the perspective shift between new and old worlds. He doesn’t trivialize or make comic the schism between generations, especially those informed by wars and emigrations. Marinovich’s task is to honor the tragic by infusing it with verve. 


Zero Readership: An Epic, Filip Marinovich