In a project started by Mostar Summer Youth Program, A Love Letter to Mostar, young poets gathered to produce an anthology of poems and letters. Through this book, young people made observations about themselves and their community. They explored themes of inequality and inner stuggles.
A Love Letter to Mostar was born out of the spoken word poetry and creative writing class at the Mostar Summer Youth Program in 2016. The students tapped into their personal experiences, stories and perspectives to express themselves through a combination of poetry, letters, art and photography. The letters written in this book were guided by the question:
‘If you could write a letter to Mostar, what would you write?’
This book is essentially a love letter to a region that is unknown to many people outside of the Balkans. As one of the students said: “There are many sad stories about people in Mostar, and they should be told; but sometimes we forget how many beautiful people surround us. There are plenty of stories about friendship and love that overcome all the negative effects the war brought us. I think it is important to tell the story about the changes in Mostar that happened after the war, all changes – the good and the bad.”
Here are some examples from the book,
I haven’t heard from you in a while. I see you so often, yet it seems we pass each other without saying hello. I don’t want you to think that I forgot you. How could I, when I wake up every morning to your sounds; and your beautiful special light. There is something about your many narrow street, the smell of coffee on every corner, the beauty of your river banks and bridges. There is something in the way people live, slowly and taking their time.
I know we haven’t always gotten along, Many times I wasn’t able to see your beauty. I guess that is the way we treat people who are nearest to us. You are near, but I miss you. Your eyes the colour of Neretva, and your skin the color of sunset. I miss all your ugly scars that make you who you are. In the end, I did grow up in your arms with your streets watching me, your sun burning my skin and your wild winds pinching my cheeks. It wasn’t always easy, but you are worth loving my dear Mostar.
Every stone speaks to me, every little corner has a memory. I am not afraid to admit, I love your ugliness. You are, and forever will be, a part of me, my cornerstone in every sense. Please forgive me that I forget you time to time, even though we breathe together. If I ever leave, know that I will carry you with me. I am you, and you are me.
Divided by the wall.
Limited by the wall.
Thwarted by it all.
Enclosed by the cage.
Dulled by the digital age.
Lana Ionie Hadžiosmanović
Hold hands, hold feelings, hold love,
Hold souls, look into them. Hold fear,
make it go away. Hold love, make it
grow. When you are shaking and you
feel like something bad is going to
happen and you just…hold hands.
Hold your grandma’s hand. Let her tell
you stories of her childhood, or her first
love or the tragedies in her life, or her
unconditional love for you. Hold hands
to let them know you care. Hold hands
to feel at home.
The book itself contains over 80 pages of photographs, artwork, poems and letters. The entire publication is available online to read for free here.
To see the latest news, Mostar Summer Youth Program events and youth written articles check out their blog here.