Anything Could Happen by Jana Putrle Srdić (trans. Barbara Jurša), Review #18

-Reviewed by Claire Trévien-


Anything Could Happen is a sampler of Slovenian poet Jana Putrle Srdić’s first three collections, translated for the first time into English thanks to A Midsummer Night’s Press’ Periscope imprint. It’s a good looking pamphlet, compressed to a pocket-size perfect bound with the solidity of a full length book.

Thank goodness for that solidity, because Anything Could Happen is a pamphlet where space is ever shifting and strange. Houses are sentient, cities feel disconcertingly drawn, as if tracing paper were placed slightly to the side of an outline. In ‘Vanishings’, where Srdić is surprised at the voicemail of a dead person

As if the cactuses from the window shelf
had circled my bed in the morning

I felt like I had almost stumbled on a description of Srdić’s poetry with the line ‘both familiar and strange’. Here the strangeness brings out the emotion of this situation, with an ending it’s hard not to react to:

I am thinking – when we erase the tape
and your voice in my head
becomes a blur I will be
a bit more porous,
my vanishing
will begin.

There are a fair few poems about writing poetry or being a poet in Anything Could Happen which could seem tiresome, but is handled interestingly:

Wishing for poem is like a humidity
in the air, 80% and rising.

(‘The Other Side of Skin’)

Where poets seek a way into space
behind the visible wall, sculptors enter
with hands, legs, hooks in the ceiling.

(‘Dilemmas of Poets and Sculptors’)

This is a poem about us two,
I have avoided it for a long time.

(‘The Dark Green Poem’)

There’s a forthrightness to Srdić’s poetry that makes you want to believe whatever impossible situation or concept she’s describing. I particularly enjoyed her more outlandish similes – it’s very appealing when poetry just goes the full hog rather than letting itself be sanded down into tastefulness:

You talk to me like a jungle
that swallows a dinosaur.

This December, I have given myself the task of reviewing one pamphlet a day to raise money for next year’s Saboteur Awards. You can help by donating, or sharing the link using the hashtag #pamphletparty. I have given myself the aim of writing at least 300 words for each, a lower word-count than the usual reviews on Sabotage, in the hopes of making it more manageable! Here’s a link to the previously published reviews in this project!