The Structure of Vasko Popa's Poetry

Ronelle Alexander

The first section discusses the general nature of the cyclical organization in Popa's work, and demonstrates the unified character of the 1980 edition of his collected works (published as seven separate volumes in Serbo-Croatian, but as a single volume in the 1978-1979 English translation). The central portion of the book is devoted to one of these seven volumes, Vucha so ("Wolf Salt"), which is analyzed on three different levels. First, Vuchja so is discussed as a complete poetic unit; then each of the seven cycles within Vuchja so is examined as a self-contained unit; and finally, three of the forty poems contained in Vuchja so are analyzed as individual poetic units. The concluding portion of the book demonstrates how each of the individual units discussed functions simultaneously on its own and as part of the larger unit within which it is embedded; it also shows that the Jakobsonian method of poetic analysis, originally thought by Jakobson to be restricted to a single poem (or, "the simultaneous synthesis accomplished by the immediate memory of a short poem") can be successfully applied to larger poetic units as well. "The result is a highly conscientious, scholarly work, the first study at any length of Popa in English. It represents a fine contribution to the field..." (SEER) "Alexander has brilliantly fulfilled her goals by giving us not only the best presentation of Popa's poetry that has so far appeared but also the best analysis of its meaning." (SR) "Alexander's approach is admirably successful. Her analyses are lucid and coherent." (SEEJ)