A Poetic Ritual Invoking Rain and Well-Being Richard Berengarten’s In a Time of Drought

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Katica Kulavkova

Abstract

The essay "A Poetic Ritual Invoking Rain and Well-Being: Richard Berengarten’s In a Time of Drought" covers the basic characteristics of the Macedonian and Balkan rainmaking customs of the Dodola and of the Peperuda type, which inspired the British poet Richard Berengarten to write his long poem In a Time of Drought, thereby reviving a wider interest for one of the oldest of Balkan folk rituals. This is a translated and slightly modified version of Katica Kulavkova's ‘Introduction’ to the book Во време на суша [Vo vreme na suša / In a Time of Drought], a book-length poem by Richard Berengarten, translated into Macedonian by Lidija Nikolova (Skopje: Poetiki, 2013).


The last revised edition of Richard Berengarten's In a Time of Drought was published in English in the UK in 2011, designated as the second part of his awarded Balkan Trilogy. The poem is based on the pan-Balkan rainmaking ceremonies, which have barely survived into the last quarter of the twentieth century. Their key figure is the Balkan rain-maiden, who goes by many names but is best known as Dodola or Peperuda. In the wake of waste and war, she is the incarnation of hope and renewal. The long poem explores the images and realities of war, destruction, and dictatorship, contrasted by the mythopoetic images of fertility, nurture, and peace. The book includes a postscript, with a copious glossary and notes that explore the background of the rainmaking customs.

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