​Josip Kocev

North Macedonia

Josip Kocev was born on 25 May, 1985 in Skopje. He is a law graduate from the Faculty of Law Iustinianus Primus in Skopje. Currently, he is working in the field of marketing and communications. He is the author of the following books of poetry:”I, Quentin Scribbler” (2015), “Written Silence” (2016), „Now is the Longest Never“(2018) and “Museum of Feelings” (2019). He is the winner of the “Еnhalon” award for the best poem at the Struga Poetry Evenings (2017), as well as the “White Dawns” award presented by the Cultural Centre “Kocho Racin” - Skopje (2019).  He has been short-listed twice for the highest national poetry award “Brothers Miladinov” given by the Struga Poetry Evenings (2017 and 2020). 

Josip Kocev has been a participant in various international festivals of poetry, such as “World Day(s) of Poetry” in Belgrade, „Stih u regiji“ in Zagreb, “Days of Macedonian Poetry” in Gothenburg, as well as the Struga Poetry Evenings. His poetry has been published in literary magazines and anthologies in the country and abroad. He lives and works in Skopje.


On “Written Silence” – Lidija Dimkovska

 

Josip Kocev belongs to the newest generation of Macedonian poets, making his debut with the publication of his collection of poems, “I, Quentin Scribbler” in 2015. Even before and certainly after his book, the poet has been publishing verses, poems and poetic musings, primarily on various social networks, which has led his readers to experience him as a solitary poet, a non-generational poet, fully devoted to lyrical poetry about love which is shared at the moment of creation with his readers, who might be in love or not. I have been impressed with Josip Kocev’s verses from the very first moment I have come across them, which has continued with every new poem of his I have read. His book of poetry “Written Silence” serves to confirm his great poetic talent, making him a poet whose occurrence is rare in the history of any national literature, which is why we have to ensure that Kocev is allowed to grow and develop to the utmost of his capacities. 

 

“Written Silence” is a work of an erudite poet who has never abandoned the dimension of the heart when entering the intellectual vortexes of language. Quite the contrary, his young poetic pen has resurrected the romantic sense of the Macedonia language, the absence of which we have failed to notice in the matters of the linguistic function of words. His ability to metaphorise situations and conditions of the poetic subject is rather unobtrusive, yet quite powerful. One gets the sense from the poetry of Josip Kocev, that the vocation of being a poet is absolutely instilled in the human nature of the poet himself.  I have the impression that Kocev had not been aware of the fact that he had become a poet, even before publishing any of his works. There is nothing more honest or spontaneous for a true artist than answering the inner call of his being to do the thing that he has been gifted for: poetry, in the case of Kocev. 

The poems contained in “Written Silence” are a veritable embodiment of the intertwining of singing and thinking: they can easily be sung, not just read, having integrated the rhythm of the word in its primordial and synergetic essence. Contradictions, which are in fact reflections of the lucidity and wisdom of the poetic voice, are present in the majority of the poems in this collection: the divine/godlike nature vs. human nature, departure vs. staying, life vs. death, “I” vs. “you”, etc., are all engaged in a dialogue which gives birth to wonderful lines about pain, emptiness, parting, abandonment, hope. There are a number of anthological poems in “Written Silence”: Eternal Summer, The Plateau, Cosmos, Gallows, Peoples… His love lyrical poetry is characterized by the following verse: “Inside me, I shall never be anyone’s”, a statement describing the ontological and existential pain of the human being, “the small ‘me’ in the big world”. The poet is aware that his strength lies in the words, something which is clearly felt throughout “Written Silence”, from the first to the last page. His lyricism is the fulfillment of Aco Shopov’s testimonial poem: “If you carry within you things unsaid,/ things that thrust through and bite/ bury them in deep silence,/ silence shall bring them to light”. Josip Kocev succeeds in this very thing: he has a supreme mastery of turning words into silence, making silence speak on our behalf and on behalf of all readers. 

Josip Kocev has been for me one of the greatest poetic revelations in Macedonian literature of the last decade. I shall always be a champion of his poetry. 

   

 

                                                                    Lidija Dimkovska 

 

POETRY WITH A SCAR, MARK AND SPOT ON ITS HEART

(excerpt from a review by Olivera Kjorvezirovska)

 

Josip Kocev is the long-awaited guest that has come through the wide open doors of our reader’s salon. Before his arrival, we had no inclination of his absence, yet when he finally appeared we realised how much he had been missed by us, the common and not so common readers. This is also true of contemporary Macedonian poetry which hasn’t been infatuated and able to publicly express its love in a long time, which hasn’t suffered so vocally in the throes of love… and hasn’t bled so lustily and profusely… We have come to understand, in fact, that for too long we have taken measure of the length, depth, width and height of contemporary Macedonian poetry without knowing the real dimensions of what has been missing from it. For too long, we have stayed far from the heart and remained too close to the mind; we have kept our distance from the pure, intimate love lyricism – while immersing ourselves in reflective poetry. Ultimately,  we have veered away from the supreme poetic achievements of our national poetry from the 1960s, such as Radovan Pavloski’s “Drought, Wedding and Migration”, Vlada Urosevic’s “Unseeing”, Mateja Matevski’s “The Equinox”, Gane Todorovski’s “Apotheosis of the Working Day”, Petre M. Andreevski’s “Denicija” ...

Commencing an afterword for a  collection of poetry with metaphors might not be the best, but nevertheless is the easiest way when you know that the impression of the reader is still hot and fresh from the oven and not easily broken into regular slices… and precise sentences.

 

The poetry of Josip Kocev, both the one that he creates everyday on the social networks and which is written and amended, shaped and molded almost before our eyes making it the most worthwhile “reality show” of our times, as well as the poetry which is neatly published in this book, contains nothing else but love. It emanates nothing else but talent for poetry which is rare to find, as it is rare to find someone who doesn’t want to read and enjoy it. If love is science, knowledge, erudition, then Kocev is poeta doctus; if love is fantasy, magic and inspiration, then Kocev is poeta vates; if love is alienation and a curse, then Kocev is poète maudit, if love is sorrow and misery, then Kocev is poète malhereux... His creative constant is that of the unrealised, unfulfilled, interrupted or expired…. unrequited, withheld or withered love; love till it bleeds, love to the top, love out of spite and back, love that renders you powerless and beyond, love that leads to begging and humiliation, to never giving up and self-delusion, to revenge and self-flagellation; love above your station, love as a burden, as the fifth permanent season, as a sickness, as a curse, as a punishment, as an perfidious war, as the battle and embodiment of All eaten by Nothing; love as a gaping, open and salted wound, as a fault… scar, mark and  spot on the heart; blindness, lighting and flashes in the eyes...

 

Olivera Kjorveziroska