Mario Suško received his M.A. and Ph.D. from SUNY at Stony Brook in the 1970s, and has lived in the US on and off for the past thirty-two years. A prolific poet, translator and university professor, he is the author of 22 poetry collections and numerous translations from modern American literature. A witness and survivor of the war in Bosnia, he returned to the US at the end of 1993.
Mario Suško could be labeled as an ‘existential poet’, following the recent jargon of literary criticism, but this label would say very little about the kind of poetry we are dealing with here. The subject in his poetry is always there, present and recognizable as an eyewitness. And if it is removed, or absent, the reason for that lies in the conceptual framework of his recent poetry. He does not use personas – even though in his writing he uses heteronyms. What is important is what will happen in the poem. The range of themes, techniques and motifs in Suško’s work is impressive, and his working energy seems almost inexhaustible.
Suško is a bilingual author, writing poems in English as well as Croatian, sometimes translating or rather rewriting them, as can also be seen in the selection of his work published here. Like no other, Suško is aware of the gains and losses involved in the process of transplanting verses and poems from one language to the other. His third book in English, The Life After, was published in 2001. He translated into Croatian the integral edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (Zagreb, 2002), as well as work from Saul Bellow, William Styron, Donald Barthelme, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Roethke, and e. e. cummings.
His own work has recently been published in the magazines Wind, The Progressive, Borderlands, Phantasmagoria, Nassau Review, Sonora Review, Poetic Voices and Dream Catcher, among others. Suško is the recipient of several awards, including the 1997 Nassau Review Poetry Award, the 1998 ‘Nuove Lettere’ International Prize for Poetry and Literature (Naples, Italy), and the 2000 Tin Ujević Award, for the best poetry collection published in Croatia in 1999, for Versus Exsul. His poetry has been widely translated.
We’ve included poems originally written in English, and originally written in Croatian here. The English poems are as yet unpublished, coming from a manuscript to be published in the US in autumn 2005. The Croatian poems are from his Selected Poems, Čitanje života i smrti (Zagreb, 2003).
The donkey connection
Fried nerves:) Sounds
Prvo putovanje (First Journey), Sarajevo, 1965.
Drugo putovanje ili patetika uma (Second Journey or Pathos of the Mind), Zagreb, 1968.
Fantazije (Fantasies), Sarajevo, 1970.
Preživljenje (Survival), Sarajevo, 1974.
Ispovijesti (Confessions), Sarajevo, 1976.
Skladbe i odsjevi (Compositions and Reflections), Sarajevo, 1977.
Zemljovidjenje (Land Vision), Zagreb, 1980.
Gravitacije, 41 (Gravitations, 41), Sarajevo, 1982.
Izabrane pjesme (Selected Poems), Sarajevo, 1984.
Izabrane pjesme (Selected Poems), Sarajevo, 1986.
Physika Meta (Physika Meta), Rijeka, 1989.
Knjiga izlaska (The Book of Exodus), Tuzla, 1991.
Priručnik za poeziju (A Handbook of Poetry), Rijeka, 1994.
Mothers, Shoes and Other Mortal Songs, Stamford, CT, 1995.
Buduća proslost (Future Past), Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1996.
Majke cipele i ine smrtne pjesme (Mothers, Shoes and Other Mortal Songs), Zagreb, 1997.
Versus Exsul, Stamford, CT, 1998.
Versus Exsul, Zagreb, 1999.
Madri, scarpe e altre canzoni mortali, Napoli, Italia, 2001.
The Life After, Stamford, CT, 2001.
Život poslije (The Life After), Zagreb, 2002.
Čitanje života i smrti (Reading Life and Death), Zagreb, 2003.