Welcome to Croatian poetry - August 2004



In modern Croatian literature, there is a common perception that poetry is a majestic literary form that surpasses all other genres. From the 1950s onwards, Croatian poetry has cast a long shadow on the national literary scene due to a number of outstanding poets writing in versatile styles that range from the surrealistic, experimental and neo-avant-garde to confessional and urban modes of lyrical expression.

This situation started to change during the 1980s with the broad introduction of post-modern techniques in writing as well as in the overall presentation of contemporary literature. During this time, poetry, especially lyrical poetry, lost its primacy as the most exciting literary form. Perhaps as a result of the democratization that took place during the 1990s, fictional and non-fictional discourses started to intertwine in an attempt to show a more complex and increasingly dynamic picture. That picture characterizes the individual and its relationship towards a society undergoing severe, sometimes drastic, changes.

Similarly, the past decade was notable for the emergence of a robust literary market. Some publishers, with support by the media, presented fiction writers as the new stars. This significant feature of contemporary literature life was an important factor in undermining the traditional role of poets and poetry. However, as this movement quite predictably started to wind down, it has made it possible to re-visit national poetry.

Existing differences, in style, writing practice and poetic concerns in general, are the strong concerns verifying the continuous quest for authenticity in lyrical expression. That legitimacy is an expression of the experience of the ever-changing contemporary world we are trying to inhabit; one in which we want to leave our distinctive mark.

Two poets presented in the new summer edition of the Croatian magazine of PIW speak of those experiences in their own way. In an effort to surpass the inner boundaries of poetry, these poets are trying to simultaneously detect and carve out a new place for poetry in contemporary society.

© Miloš Đurđević  
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