Charles Simic, ed., The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry (Graywolf, 1992)
This is one of the better anthologies of verse I've come across in quite a while. Simic, a native Serbian himself, has an obvious love for his subject and, one would assume, a greater knowledge of history and cultural context than a translator going in fresh with this material. As any translator worth his salt will tell you, these qualities are the difference between a translation with falls flat and one which breathes; word choice is everything.
The "name" here (to Western audiences, anyway) is Milorad Pavic, whose novel The Dictionary of the Khazars was a literary sensation in the late eighties, translated into many languages and finding the bestseller lists of a number of western countries. But once you've been drawn by the name, linger over the rest of the work here. The whole collection shines with a sophisticated grasp of the surrealist ethic which much of modern American poetry is lacking; many of the poets here, such as Vasco Popa and Ivan Lalic, would stand at the same level of achievement as Eshleman, Willis, or Stroffolino on the short shelf of sacred books, where modern surrealism is concerned.
If there is a quibble to be had with the book, it's that it's simply too short. Simic does explain this in his foreword (he only included the translations he's most satisfied with as a poet as well as a translator). Thus, we have to be happy with what we have and hope he releases a volume 2 some time in the future. *** ½