The Blue Butterfly

(Winner of the 2007 Veliki skolski čas prize)

This book is the second volume in the ongoing series of Richard Burns’s Selected Writings. Its twin points of departure are a massacre that took place in Šumarice, outside the town of Kraguejvac in central Serbia, in October 1941, and an encounter with a blue butterfly at the same location in May 1985. The poems are laced into their contexts by documents, photographs, a postscript, and end-notes which provide references and dates and places of composition.

For more than twenty five years, Richard Burns has maintained a close involvement with life, culture and politics in the Balkans, especially Greece and former Yugoslavia. He lived and worked in Yugoslavia between 1987 and 1991, immediately before the wars that broke that country apart. Out of this have come two books, and a third is on the way. Of these three, The Blue Butterfly is the centrepiece.

The Blue Butterfly explores many themes, including revenge and forgiveness, from the Balkan historical context to the present time. The complete book has been twenty years in the making.

Like its companion-book, In a Time of Drought (Shoestring press, 2005), The Blue Butterfly is divided into seven parts, each of which contains seven sections. An early version of this sequence was awarded the Wingate-Jewish Quarterly Prize for Poetry in 1992.

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Volume 2 
in the ongoing
Salt series
of Selected Writings

Richard Burns.

For info & video-clip see
Salt Publishing

and scroll down to
'Meet the author'.

For poems from
The Blue Butterfly
and related
texts, see:
Title poem

Two Photographs

A Grove of Trees.

Poems from the book are online on these sites:

Three sonnets
in The Liberal,
'The dead do not hear us'
in Shearsman 59,
'What power or intelligence'
in Shearsman 67-68,
and five poems in
Great Works 7.

See the Amazon review
by James Gordon