In Brčko I spoke with the president of the Literary Club of Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His name is Šefko Kaloper and he works as a librarian at the grammar school ”Vaso Pelagić”, and he is also the author of several books.

The literary club was interesting for me, because I have not really heard that there were many of them in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so I was interested in what kind of activities they were engaging in. I found out that they had quite a lot activities. They promote the literature of writers from Brčko, but also elsewhere. Their annual calendar is quite full. They frequently organise promotions of books, poetry evenings, publish books and they are an important part of the cultural scene in this town. What should also be stressed is that this literary club is the successor of the pre-war literary club in Brčko that was called Pablo Neruda.

Šefko Kaloper:

The new club, which continued the tradition, was established on July 17, 2005. Brčko has always had at least a dozen of persons that liked to write. Some of them also achieved some good results. When it comes to our current members, Mira Đapo is a member of the Writers’ Society of Serbia, Žarko Milenić is a member of Writers’ Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a member of the Writers’ Society of Croatia, since he lived and worked in Croatia.

I have to stress this – we are an NGO, and our members are Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, etc. This year, I managed to also get a Jew in the club and the club management. And none of our members is limited as regards memberships in any national club, whether in the country or abroad. So, they can at the same time be members of the Writers’ Club of Serbia and Croatia, and our member, if they are from here. Why do we have such a policy? Because we believe that it is all useless, this region and this life of ours, especially the post-war, traumatic one, if we do not have an organisation where we will meet unburdened by the fact that we love our nation, our religion, etc. That is the Literary Club of Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Are you working on the promotion of works of persons from Brčko?

And persons who are not from Brčko, even foreigners. Last year, there was Damir Pervanović, he lives abroad. Then we had ”Sjećanja” of the author Neda Čajević. We are also participating in the meeting of theatres, and there are regional encounters of poets, which we initiated; this year we celebrate the 6th anniversary, and our guests are sometimes from Denmark, Russia, the region, etc.

Do you publish books?

We publish them and act as publishers. And we are doing it in addition to being an organisation that brings together lovers of books, because in our statute we have a provision according to which our member can also be a lover of literature or poetry, he/she does not have to be a writer or poet. If they are, even better. Everyone has the right to equally participate in the financing of the club. And everyone has the possibility to apply for government funds for books. There are funds for individuals and NGOs. So that, if an individual gets some money, and at the club there are no funds, then on can at least have coffee. :D But we engage in publications, translations, mostly, because Žarko speaks Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, and sometimes English. Mostly from these languages. We also had a translation from Italian on two occasions. We organise poets’ encounters, participate in theatre encounters, which are also a tradition of the City of Brčko. We also participate in all other events, depending on the assets that we have. We also have the possibility for someone to independently finance their project, and would like the Literary Club to be the publisher and to use the services of our editors.

How well-attended are the events that you organise?

It depends. This summer, for example, there was a promotion of the book of Uzeir Bukvić, one of our members who lives in Norway, a former journalist, correspondent of Radio Sarajevo, etc., on the occasion of his 70th birthday. There were around 150 persons at his promotion, maybe even more, maybe even 200. But we are satisfied even when around 20 people come to a promotion.

That is usual with literature. You cannot force someone to read today. People read very little. I know this, since I work as a librarian at the grammar school. There is always a certain number of persons that love books and reading, and they will stay loyal until the grave. A lot is produced. We frequently remember Miljković – ”Everyone will write poetry”. And before him, Goethe said that both a nobleman and a pheasant can be a poet.

And in my opinion, poetry is… Sometimes, we approach that literary expression with contempt, or as Italians would say, con disprezzo. However, if you are able to package a thought in a verse, which nobody can phrase in a novel, then you are really a genius. You have talent. But do not think, I recommend young people not to think that it is their merit. There is a Boss, who gave you that gift.