Project Description

The Little Box by Vasko Popa

The little box gets her first teeth

And her little length

Little width little emptiness

And all the rest she has

The little box continues growing

The cupboard that she was inside

Is now inside her

And she grows bigger bigger bigger

Now the room is inside her

And the house and the city and the earth

And the world she was in before

The little box remembers her childhood

And by a great longing

She becomes a little box again

Now in the little box

You have the whole world in miniature

You can easily put in a pocket

Easily steal it lose it

Take care of the little box.

Vasile “Vasko” Popa (Serbian Cyrillic: Васко Попа; June 29, 1922 – January 5, 1991) was a Serbian poet of Romanian descent.

Popa was born in the village of Grebenac. After finishing high school, he enrolled as a student of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy. He continued his studies at the University of Bucharest and in Vienna. During World War II, he fought as a partisan and was imprisoned in a German concentration camp in Bečkerek (today Zrenjanin, Serbia).

After the war, in 1949, Popa graduated from the Romanic group of the Faculty of Philosophy at Belgrade University. He published his first poems in the magazines Književne novine (Literary Magazine) and the daily Borba (Struggle).

From 1954 until 1979 he was the editor of the publishing house Nolit. In 1953 he published his first major verse collection, Kora (Bark). His other important work included Nepočin-polje (No-Rest Field, 1956), Sporedno nebo (Secondary Heaven, 1968), Uspravna zemlja (Earth Erect, 1972), Vučja so (Wolf Salt, 1975), and Od zlata jabuka (Apple of Gold, 1978), an anthology of Serbian folk literature. His Collected Poems, 1943–1976, a compilation in English translation, appeared in 1978, with an introduction by the British poet Ted Hughes.

On May 29, 1972 Vasko Popa founded The Literary Municipality Vršac and originated a library of postcards, called Slobodno lišće (Free Leaves). In the same year, he was elected to become a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Vasko Popa is one of the founders of Vojvodina Academy of Sciences and Arts, established on December 14, 1979 in Novi Sad.He is the first laureate of the Branko’s award (Brankova nagrada) for poetry, established in honour of the poet Branko Radičević. In the year 1957 Popa received another award for poetry, Zmaj’s Award (Zmajeva nagrada), which honours the poet Jovan Jovanović Zmaj. In 1965 Popa received the Austrian state award for European literature. In 1976 he received the Branko Miljković poetry award, in 1978 the Yugoslav state Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia Award, and in 1983 the literary award Skender Kulenović.

In 1995, the town of Vršac established a poetry award named after Vasko Popa. It is awarded annually for the best book of poetry published in Serbian language. The award ceremony is held on the day of Popa’s birthday, 29 June.

Vasko Popa died on January 5, 1991 in Belgrade and is buried in the Aisle of the Deserving Citizens in Belgrade’s New Cemetery. He was a good friend with French poet Alain Bosquet.

Major literary works available in English:

  • Complete Poems., ed. Francis R. Jones, co-tr. Anne Pennington, introduction Ted Hughes. Anvil, 2011.
  • The Star Wizard’s Legacy: Six Poetic Sequences, trans. Morton Marcus (White Pine Press, 2010), ISBN 978-1-935210-11-5
  • Collected Poems, Anvil Press Poetry, 1998
  • Homage to the Lame Wolf: Selected Poems, trans. Charles Simic (Oberlin College Press, 1987), ISBN 0-932440-22-3
  • Golden Apple, Anvil P Poetry, 1980
  • Vasko Popa: Collected Poems 1943-1976, trans. Anne Pennington (Persea Books of New York, 1978) Earth Erect, Anvil P Poetry, 1973

More information in Bulgarian language:


More information in Serbian language: