The Fine Feats of the Five Cockerels Gang is a Marxist-Surrealist Yugoslav epic poem for children, written by Aleksandar Vučo and accompanied by Dušan Matić’s photocollage illustrations and captions. The poem tracks the adventures of five scrappy, resourceful working-class boys who endeavor to free an equally plucky girl from the evil clutches of a convent school (and its fearsome nuns). While weighing in on various contemporary political issues, the story is unpredictable, action-packed and relayed in richly colloquial language. Matić’s photocollages show “what happened in the meantime” between the “songs” (episodes) of the poem, providing clever twists to the linear plot as well as an illustration of the surrealist concepts of time, space and the transformative capabilities of art.
Ainsley Morse (Ph.D. Harvard University, 2016) is a translator and assistant professor of Russian language and literature at Dartmouth College. She has published Word Play: Experimental Poetry and Soviet Children’s Literature (2021) as well as many translations of poetry, prose and theory.
Aleksandar Bošković (Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2013) is a lecturer in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian at Columbia University. He is the author of The Poetic Humor in Vasko Popa’s Oeuvre (in Serbian, 2008) and co-editor of Zenithism (1921-1927): A Yugoslav Avant-Garde Anthology (2022).
This book will be of immediate interest to scholars of international avant-gardes, surrealism, children’s literature, interwar Yugoslav poetry and culture, as well as to non-specialist readers.