Narrative Witness: stories from Caracas to Sarajevo

(c) Vanja Cerimagić

(c) Vanja Cerimagić

The University of Iowa’s International Writers Program brought writers and photographers from Caracas and Sarajevo to tell stories together online last summer. The results of their collaboration, with translations into English, are now online.

The photographers open up a window on the centres of their worlds, where people gather and move on. Vanja Cerimagić’s  “dječaci kao ptice” (“boys like birds”) take their lives in their hands, diving off the Old Bridge in Mostar. “Kad se skoči sa Starog mosta, tada se upisuje u društvo odvažnih.” -Emir Balić, mostarska lasta (“When you take a dive from the Old Bridge, you’ve joined the ranks of the bold.” -Emir Balić, the Swallow of Mostar).

Half a million people circulate daily at Redoma de Petare (Petare Roundabout) in Caracas, where “el apuro es obligado” (“haste is mandatory”) if you want to stay out of danger, as Efrén Hernández-Arias shows.

The writers draw on these images; Sarajevo’s Selma Kulović takes Arias’ and other photos of Caracas to explore the personal impact of the violence in Among the White Flowers. Yet they are also realistic about the distance between them – Caracas’ Fedosy Santaella can only imagine the Trees of Sarajevo, as in a fairy tale: “Nunca iré allá. Está muy lejos” (“I will never go there. It is so far away”).

If you never like to say never, at least go and have a look at the collection. Maybe it won’t feel so far away as you think.


Translator, editor, writer, reader

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