mag. phil. Štefanija Kožić, review of book Sun at the Zenith by Ksenija Premur

The newest collection of poetry by Ksenija Premur entitled Sun at the Zenith, as a faithful reader who follows the work of this already established writer, I would call the peak of the author’s poetry. It is an extremely deep intimate love poetry, and the collection is written in one breath; the entire collection can be read as a single poem.

To begin with, the peculiarity of this collection of poems are the titles that are formulated as imperatives (e.g. remember, give to me, fall, wander, etc.), which indicates a kind of conversation between the lyrical subject and a man unknown to readers. This conversation is actually a monologue, and the gradation of feelings from the beginning to the end of the collection implies unhappy love – the first song is titled wait, and the last one forget me. The conversation, i.e. the collection, begins with the following words: “just wait and everything will come / like the golden sun at the zenith”, it begins with optimism, hope in love, and ends with “I await the break of dawn / for you to forget me / and  never look for me / because the gods just / played with us / (…) / under the sun at the zenith”, that is, it ends with the end of love. The sun at the zenith, which appears in the first and last poem, is a symbol of both opposites – the beginning and the end, but also of eternity, a motif that also appears with opposing motives (eternal paradise, eternal life, eternal oblivion, eternal struggle, eternal ruin). Eternity is a dialectic of both extremes, an eternal shift between optimism and pessimism, good and evil, waiting and forgetting, giving and taking (“and history repeats itself / in the end everything repeats itself / as variations on the theme of eternity”). However, eternity is a category reserved only for immortal phenomena such as love, but for mortal beings the aspect of temporality includes transience “because what was yesterday / today is already past / and what is now is doomed to pass.”

The collection brings a whole range of feelings, such as sadness, melancholy, longing, joy, hope. It is love, which is the central motif and theme, that triggers all these feelings. This love is described as fated, regardless of the imperatives, as something that the one who is in love in no way can control. To rein in and explain this love, the author invokes gods and goddesses, transcendent beings who may have access to knowledge that could be helpful. However, the last poem reveals that the author’s attempt failed – love failed: “and you keep chaining me / with newer and heavier shackles / I can no longer wear them on my chest (…) so forget me / as if I never was”.

This time also, a biographical note is unavoidable – particularly, philosophical expertise introduces philosophical, religious and historical concepts into the collection (cosmos, destiny, Horace, Jesus, Colossus of Rhodes, Apollo, Botticelli, etc.). Similar to previous collections of poems, the author draws inspiration from the seascape (rocks, waves, sand, seagulls, fish, etc.), and a special role is played by the motif of the gaze mentioned in the titles of the poems (observe, look, the pupil of the sun, look at the turbulent world, your gaze, persistent gaze, etc.). In this way, the motifs of a gaze and eyes, i.e. of the sight, as the most important human sense, point to the significant importance that the author places on visual hedonism, the splendor of nature and the bodies she describes.

With the help of exceptional inspiration, creativity and insight, the author succeeded in writing a very special, innovative and unique collection of poems – a collection that is at the same time intellectual, philosophical, natural, intimate and love poetry. Therefore, this collection is intended for all those who were/are happily or unhappily in love, or better said, for all those who have emotions, all lovers of poetry.