Learned By Helena Santic Isakov translated with Charles Elffers.

I lied about three things;

when I claimed:

I was a Jewish child,

That I understood the future of the requiems,

and that I personally knew the captain of the fleet.


How I was mocked by the convicts

while I was petting the asses one by one

and only singing o di dla da di la da da

in a pub standing next to the three strong sailors.


It was an experience of a prostitute;

in my case Juno was absent,

nor did Anima witness me:

I heard the applause even when I was an absent child,

and soon afterwards I drew the circle in the sand.


Then I used to only meet  people with genius,

and give myself to them

because of the cognition of being homogeneous,

and they gave themselves to me

during the holidays. 


12 thoughts on “Learned By Helena Santic Isakov translated with Charles Elffers.

    • Hi Manja, Helena is one of Serbia’s top poets, she live mostly on a farm near the Northern border, along the Romanian border, but has a flat in Belgrade as well. I was lucky enough to meet up with Helena and her husband Danilo in Johannesburg, she came to visit me in the local library, and we started writing together, which led to the translations, which I am still trying to get right, some ten years later. Eventhough, they applied ton immigrate before the wars, once the wars ended the South African authorities through them out, as there was no more need for ex Yugoslavians to be refugees. There three children were born out here, but this did not help them stay in SA. I visited them in Belgrade, having helped them pack up and get out of the country on time. Helena love corresponding with people , and having visitors, she does not have a blog, but does have an email and a Facebook page, and am sure, she will love to hear from you. I can give you the details if you want. Great to hear from you again, best wishes and blessings Charles.

    • Another try; a very interesting person, who loves to link up with other like minded people, she likes to incorporate art and music into her books of poetry, she has published several books of poems. She speaks broken English, German, French and Greek. She often does face painting, farms, uses here phone to post on Facebook, is a bit lonely, as Danilo is often not with the family (2 daughters and a son) We both translated 30 of each others poems, and when I was in Belgrade we had a talk and reading together, during which another poet friend read some new poems, and Helena read all of her translations of my poetry to the crowd of about 200 people, and we talked with the people who came for hours afterwards, so much so that I almost missed my lift back to Budapest (the runway at Belgrade can’t be used after being bombed by NATO. If you Google Helena Santic Isakov you will get her Facebook page. She is, like many Eastern European poets, someone who has created her own mythology and her own words, month names etc. to go with it, which makes translation quite difficult. She is hoping to get the EU to sponsor a publication, with all 60 poems in it, and some of the art work and music that we have chosen to go with it, hence my blogging the translations, so that she can collect them up. I think she should have a blog as well, but like me she is computer challenged, and struggles with all these things, and her children are not very patient at showing her how to do all these things.

  1. Her writing is sooo visceral! I love it! Shame she’s only on facebook. I avoid it like the plague, so I guess I’ve no access to her page. Shame. But seeing you are translating her work, maybe you could start up a blog on her behalf? If you want I can even help you with the design bit etc. She really should have her own blog. Kudos to you for the translations! M x

    • I think Helena would like that, will send her a message and see what she says, maybe we can help her to blog and enjoy it. I think her English is not that good, so she would probably blog in Serbian, so we would have to use the translation button, it is a weird language which can be written in either Cyrillic script or western script. At the moment, because of the bombing by NATO, locals raise eyebrows if western script is used. Belgrade has been burned, sacked and bombed 32 times in its history! Blessings Charles.

  2. Or better still, if she’s interested, get her to send me an email. I can set one up for her and make it really beautiful. Her work should be out there, you know.

    • I agree, it should, these 30 poems that I am putting up at the moment are a very small portion of her entire works. I still am going to send you an email but the time is just racing away, at the moment I am only getting between 3 and 5 hours sleep a day to get everything I do done, but am enjoying it all so much 🙂 Blessings Charles.

      • Am going on holiday to Noordhoek a beach at the southern end of Chapmans peak on Thursday: Gen and I will be in a B&B for a few days, that will hopefully include a lot of sleep, some swims in the sea (always love sea water, so relaxing, so energizing), and some reading. Best wishes and blessings Charles.

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