The Bosnia Elegies by Adrian Oktenberg

Beautifully simple language drives the heartache into the one who picks up The Bosnian Elegies. The words form short and powerful phrases, catching the reader and painting how it was to have life pulled apart as Yugoslavia was dismembered.

Adrian Oktenberg’s poetry is painful to read because it is so heartfelt and real. It is as if one gains more of a sense of who the people are who have gone through the atrocities we’ve all seen on the news, most of us lacking a real understanding of what happened on the human level. I’ve spoken with Bosnians in my hometown, heard some of their own horrific stories of losing family members, their homes, their towns. Even so, Oktenerg’s descriptions through her poetry made the tragic events of the former Yugoslavia so much more real to me than ever before. She covers a side of the events the news media never seemed to capture. Her prose remind the reader that there are lives not much different than our own that were so brutally disrupted and shattered, never to be put back the way they once were.

Oktenberg has won an Astraea Emerging Writers Award and a Barbara Deming Award.

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