Winter Diary by Károly Bari

April 8th, 2008 by Diane


I’ve spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe. I’ve long been fascinated with the gypsies and their wild and nomadic ways, living as though in some parallel universe to everyone else. They’re held so separate, often discriminated against or ignored. For me, I often think it’s as if their passionate and colorful lifestyle is an attempt to wring any pleasure they can obtain from an otherwise difficult and dreary life. Last time I was overseas, I mourned the loss of the gypsies who left my favorite city in droves. I hardly saw any at all. It didn’t seem right, and I for one missed the distinct and vivid cultural flavor they gave the city streets.

Károly Bari is a Hungarian poet whose gypsy blood flows through every poem in his collection Winter Diary. His transient upbringing permeates every page, giving the reader a taste of the love and fear of nature when you’ve grown up under the sky, playing by the rules of the unforgiving elements. Each poem sees nature as a living, breathing thing that constantly shifts and moves; Bari’s nature is not the warm and embracing Mother Earth, but rather a phantom that gives and takes without warning. His writing sweeps you into the feeling of a dark Gothic fairy tale.

Accompanying Bari’s poetry are colorful plates of his artwork, which merge nature and human together, further building a sense of the Old World ancient tale. Throughout the book, readers will notice the constant intertwining of life and death, blazing color and darkness of night.

Once again we have a book of poetry meticulously designed by the publisher, in this case Mercury House. This book is special - only 500 in print, each book hand numbered. Even the paper stock is something you’ll run your fingers over and appreciate. Mercury House tells me they don’t have a lot of these left, so if you’re interested visit their site and order a copy. Poetry lovers will want to keep this one in a special place - in their hearts and on their bookshelves.

“Herds of whitewashed houses graze by the roadside
and nibble at stars with window teeth.”
(page 20, Night.)

“My gypsy village, with its starving smoke
crumbling walls, wind-ripped roofs
wrapped in trouble up to here,
dangled its raw poverty into the world.”
(page 33, Suffering Set Me on the Road)


Posted in Book Reviews

4 Responses

  1. bethany canfield

    Oh, this does sound good to have! The picture is incredible! I have a special place in my heart for gypsies because while growing up in Spain we were friends with many of them, and I saw at a very young age the racism they suffered, and classicism as well. This book sounds like a great read!!! Thank you for the review!


  2. Have you read Bury Me Standing? It’s a very interesting look at Central/Eastern European gypsies-I read it earlier this year. :) Both of those poems were powerful; I love the image of houses nibbling and grazing!

  3. Kathryn

    I, too, have spent considerable time in Eastern Europe. The sight of the Gypsies was always a source of both delight and fascination. The way they would wrap their babies, papoose style…also in vividly colored wraps. Mothers with long braded hair with colorful ribbon weaved throughout their braids. The men with their beards & mousatches…and the music…always the music. Their music was as distinct as they were. One thing that I saw as most remarkable…in spite of what must have been an difficult lifestyle…always a smile. Seeing them bathe their horses in the streams was something I’ll never forget. I’m very grateful that many of this I caught on film, as it’s a constant reminder…that every life…touches every other life.

  4. Kathleen

    Is it odd that I’m more attracted to the beautiful cover, than I am to the idea of a poetry book? I’d consider buying it just for that if it were a bit cheaper.

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