Dear Excellencies, distinguish guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, welcome in our Embassy.
Tonight we’re celebrating international cooperation between writers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Britain with the launch of two books, Kolshil and The Catch.
Kolshil was published last month in Banja Luka. It’s a co-operation between a British poet, Professor Fiona Sampson, the poet and publisher Dr Zdravko Kecman, and the English Studies specialist and translator Dr Minja Golubovic. Fiona Sampson’s English book Coleshill was translated into Serbian language by Dr Golubovic and published by Dr Kecman as the inaugural volume in his “Sveti Hieronymus Edition”.
The Catch, published last month in London by Penguin Random House, includes poems written over the last three years from a variety of locations, including Banja Luka, where Professor Sampson serves as the Chair of Jury of the European Lyric Atlas Award.
When we look closer, we can see these connections go deeper still. Coleshill is a village in Oxfordshire; but life there has more in common with village life in my country than it does with city life, whether in London, Banja Luka, Sarajevo or Mostar. Meanwhile, Fiona Sampson has published a number of contemporary writers from my country, as well as from Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, most recently in Poem magazine.
Fiona has published 27 books of poetry and critical writing and is now also at work on a literary biography of Mary Shelley and a study of Limestone Country. Translated into more than 30 languages, she has received the “Zlaten Prsten of Macedonia”, the Newdigate Prize, a Cholmondeley Award, various awards from the Arts Councils of England and Wales, Society of Authors and the Poetry Book Society, and been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes and the Evelyn Encelot Prize for European Women Poets.
In tonight’s presentation we’ll hear a few poems from each book, starting with Kolshil.