Don’t let the title fool you – in these witty micro-stories the end of the world is happening on an (almost) everyday level and “other trifles” may have an unexpected depth. Miniatures by Sanja Lovrenčić, organized in eight “chapters”, seemingly adapted to the short attention span of a modern reader, take into account things like morning-garbage-squads, polar bear wisdom, exodus of delivery people, time-stay-machines, mythical journeys and metaphorical animals. Sometimes entertaining, sometimes meditative, the author’s voice stays firm in defending the art of painting/playing with words and especially vocal against false/alternative literature that (allegedly) paints reality, media, and politics.
In Zvjezdana Jembrih’s third poetry collection all the potentials of her writing merge and come to full expression. Inspired by the specific space, a village in the Split hinterland, the author creates a series of impressive records, reaching a rare level of literary quality. Details from the chosen environment become triggers for surprising images in which the near and the far, the real and the unreal mix, with not even a shadow of sentimentality or commonplace thinking. The poems gathered in this book were created over several years, by slow distillation of the essentials. The result of this process captivates with the range of poetic imagination, the purity and consistency of the concept, the harmonious blending of direct observation, unobtrusive erudition and the ability to translate into a unique language the emotions stirred by different aspects of a (neglected) landscape and its inhabitants.
Although it could seem that the primary origin of this poetry is the world of words – the author recurrently affirms the experience of reading as something very much alive and inspiring – the contact with her own material environment is equally important for Lidija Dujić. And no matter how linguistically complex, surprising, metaphorical this poetry is, and how far it takes (ironic) distance from reality, it always remains tied to the real moment that triggered poetic imagination and caused poetic language to flow. Singling out some moments, turning flashes of reality into a thoughtful linguistic structure, the poet creates original and meditative images, with a clear awareness of poetry as non-ordinary speech.
Miroslav Kirin’s book of travelogues brings together notes from different periods of the author’s life, but thanks to the coherence of his view and characteristic stylistic refinement, makes an organic whole. You could call it a kind of triptych: it starts with notes from Paris in 2005, the middle and most complex part is dedicated to the author’s sojourns in China, and the book ends with very short notes from various trips through Croatia. The author’s observations move in a wide range: from very simple everyday little things that catch his eye to the broad cultural issues of the Far East. Despite the variety of motives seen in the “touched regions”, the traveler’s eye shows the same curiosity and the same clarity. The moments he records often turn into micro-stories, and out of the multitude of human outlines that appear in his notes and notebooks, some gain fullness and turn into impressive characters. Poetry runs through Kirin’s “notelets” as a kind of weft – sometimes as initiator of travel, sometimes as an object of work and thought, sometimes as a latent awareness of the poetic values of language. Therefore, this book can give pleasure to both travel lovers and to all those who enjoy good literature.
The plot of this novel begins with the female narrator’s arrival on an unnamed Mediterranean island. She has inherited a house in an almost abandoned village and comes to see it; it is a good reason to get away from her daily struggles for a while. The landscape around her is nostalgically idyllic: crumbling stone houses, wild capers, homemade cheese, sunshine and wind. Everything suggests that there, at a distance from people, precarious jobs and urban routine, she’ll find a space for introspection, for facing her past, her desires and hopes. Along with the house, however, the narrator inherited a dovecot with a flock of pigeons bred by her deceased cousin, Toni. When she decides to release them from their prison, she has no idea that these homing birds will soon return to her along with six peculiar guests – Toni’s old friends. They organize a memorial party for him, and during three consecutive evenings they relate fragments of their shared past. Were they an international theater troupe that wandered the Mediterranean small towns in the seventies, or active participants in the political turmoil of the age of lead – it is difficult for the heroine to decide. At the end of the party, before they go away, the strange guests explain the true nature of her newly acquired inheritance: along with the house, she gets the obligation to tell their story, a story she did not fully grasp. And that’s where the Mediterranean idyll comes to an end: it will be replaced by a research into international terrorism in the 1970s, a personal revolt against the clash of wealth and poverty at that time and in the present, growing compassion for non-human living world and growing anger provoked by deadly business practices, cyber-subversions, anger, fear and escape. To the fragments of her guests’ stories the heroine will react creating her own, a story that she will – when the storm she provoked subsides – almost unintentionally leave as a legacy to the new generation.
Jana Prević Finderle’s “Herbarium” could both be seen as a follow-up to her debut “The travertine bridge”, published in 2019, and its sheer opposite. One could argue that it’s a follow-up, because it is a book of short prose inspired by the author’s own experiences, delivered in a simple and direct way – and that it’s an opposite, as “The travertine bridge” was dedicated to travels and encounters, a horizontal motion through space, while “Herbarium”, a book about the lives of plants and the people closest to the author, focuses on travelling vertically, through time. For every herbarium, including Jana’s, is a book of memories. It seems that we live in times of increased sensitivity for the green world that surrounds us, a world that is getting more endangered with every day. But Jana’s soft spot for plantlife isn’t a result of any trend, although the need to create a herbarium made of words could have been influenced by the increasing eco-awareness in times of global warming. This author has, since early childhood, been living her life in close connection to plantlife, which enables her to talk about it from a personal, almost lyrical, perspective. Her authentic language depicts a simple closeness. The focus doesn’t lie on a problem or on the author’s knowledge of botany – which she clearly has – but rather on her personal experiences, her discoveries, little miracles she encounters, like the ones where her aunt Mirjana, in Jana’s adolescent days of spleen, tells her about an acorn and an oak.
Luka Mavretić’s third poetry collection “All My People But Me” is a series of “inner journeys” – journeys that the author announces in the first poems of this very thoughtfully built piece. The young poet balances between lyrical verses and prosaic sentences, he strives towards a refined simplicity and manages to create a conversational tone, which is an important building block of his poetical world. An abundance of motives and a diary-like directness make this book an interesting and fresh collection. Even though he uses interpunction which creates finished, harmonical sentences and gives the text a prosaic tone, his verses remain verses, lines with a natural and easy flow. Despite a breezy atmosphere that the author creates, this is a collection of well thought-through and refined texts – Luka Mavretić is a poet who, in an alchemy of words, transforms chosen glimpses of reality into memorable and luminous images.
Imagination and a certain freedom in his relation to language as well as an authentic poetical experience characterize Josip Čekolj’s first poetry collection. In four parts – four zeals – the lyrical voice of this young and talented author celebrates the novelty of his first worlds, from the home region, both in a concrete and a symbolic form, to the world of family and first loves. The magic of these poems mostly arises from the peculiar shifts from real to surreal, from bright images that depict an underlying emotion. The author builds his space of words, a space that is built from moments he has experienced. This space is often related to motives that originate in nature and in traditional culture, but it is consistently original, full of surprises and freshness.
Biljana Romić, born in 1960, is a Croatian indologist and cultural editor. She gained her Master of Arts title in 1997 in Zagreb, with a study of Bharati Mukherjee and postcolonial migrant faiths. She has ever since actively been researching and writing about postcolonialism and the notion of the Other. Her extensive study The women’s world of British India was written after she spent several years studying diaries and letters written by “memsahibs”. Her work is not simply a historical overview of their lives and roles during colonialism, it puts colonial history, literature and the notion of the “Other” in a contemporary critical context; Romić analyses over one hundred and fifty sources, including Indrani Sen, Amandeep Kaur, Kumari Jayawardena and Shashi Tharoor. When reading about the British colonial venture in India, we mostly encounter works that have been written from the male perspective of conquests and regimen – but colonial women have, almost from the very beginning, been a part of this venture. Biljana Romić’s book brings us the voices of these women and their lives. They journeyed into the unknown, often not prepared for the adversities of a different climate and the social roles they were going to find themselves in. They went into the unknown as wives, governesses, teachers, as young women in search of a husband; sometimes as entrepreneurs, missionaries, adventurers. Many stayed within the expected roles given by the British colonial community, but some of them showed that it is possible to overcome the limitations of their era, class and gender when it comes to their relation to India and Indians. Biljana Romić talks about the so-called “little history”, the one that appears on the margins of big historical events – and without which it is impossible to gain a complete picture of a time that has passed.
As a poet of proven skills, Sanja Lovrenčić sketches a mysterious heroine. Who is she? After reading, it is up to us to conclude. Or to let her continue to take shape within us for a long time. For, this collection of poems counts on the cooperation of a careful watcher and listener, a curious reader sensitive to language and its beyond. Sanja Lovrenčić invites us on an adventurous poetic journey through the poems/episodes of a very special, never fully expressible or sharply drawn protagonist, with whose joys, doubts, insights and resignations we easily empathise. (Dorta Jagić, ed.)
Longlisted for the Kamov Award 2021
In this book that addresses every generation words and images blend into an impressive poetical unity. Using drawings with simple, clear lines and concise sentences, the author tells a story that’s possible to read and experience on different levels. She talks about the close connection of human beings with nature, about changes and the importance of that – sometimes concealed, but still permanent – relationship. The tree is also a symbol of the author’s inner being, a deep and vital center where her strength arises from, a strength of the utmost importance in encounters with the outside world and collisions with its walls.
“In the Rhythm of Horror – The Abyss of Dances” is a collection of six fantasy stories by young Croatian authors. The stories were chosen via a competition that Mala zvona held in 2020, after which authors Josip Čekolj, Mateja Pavlic, Marin Pelaić, Ines Vajzović, Martina Vidaić and Orin Ivan Vrkaš were chosen. Except for the characteristic fantastical elements of the unexpected and wondrous, the motive of dance also connects the stories – a dance of the dead and the arisen, a dance of half-humans and half-animals in the moonlight, an oriental dance of wraiths in black capes. These obnoxious dancers contribute to an uneasy atmosphere but at the same time, they create an aura of mystical beauty. Each story is illustrated with a black and white piece by Klara Rusan Klarxy – her work masterly depicts the merge of the real and the otherworldly, and makes a world that might seem dark and bizarre mysteriously alluring.