Art is an excellent training ground for practicing courage

Dragoslava Barzut is an author and human rights activist. She and three friends were attacked last September in a Belgrade bar by men screaming, “Lesbians, lesbians!” And instead of receding into silence, she gave a press conference about it, and called on the police to apprehend the perpetrators and on the courts to prosecute them under Serbia’s hate crimes statute.

I found out about it from an interview she gave to Autonomija, an online publication of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina. I brought the incident and interview to the attention of Words without Borders because they published my translation of one of Barzut’s poems last summer. Long story short, my translation of the interview went live this morning.

Many thanks to Susan Harris, Eric Becker, and Jessie Chaffee of Words without Borders for their support and assistance; to Nedim Sejdinović, editor-in-chief of Autonomija, for permission to translate and publish the article; and especially to Dragoslava Barzut for her inspiring words and actions.

“Art is an excellent training ground for practicing courage. . . . The decision not to remain silent about the violence was for me the most important decision. I wanted to turn the pain, that echoing silence, into action. And I think I succeeded. The decision not to be silent reinforced my desire to change reality, made me ready for change—painful but necessary change.”       —Dragoslava Barzut

Read the full interview in Words without Borders.

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