Anka Zagar was born in 1954 in Zamost, in the Gorski Kotar region of Croatia. She attended elementary school in Plesac, and high school in Cabar. Zagar graduated in Croatian and comparative literature at the Arts Faculty in Zagreb, and currently works as a librarian. One of the most acclaimed Croatian poets, she has published six books of poetry and a number of collector’s editions, illustrated with original etchings by famous Croatian graphic artists.
Anka Zagar lives her life as a poet far from the madding crowd of the Croatian literary communities. Devoid of vanity, indifferent to the changes of fashion, Anka Zagar has evolved her own individual style and conception of art comparable to contemporary American ‘Language’ poetry. She places an emphasis on issues of language, voice and persona, and has always remained true to her peculiar, unimitated and unimitable turn of phrase. Kresimir Bagic, in his book of essays entitled Living Tongues, a deep reading of modern Croatian poetry from the fifties to the nineties, also writes about Zagar’s poetics. He points to her visible independence on the level of language. Anka Zagar approaches the poem as an area in which language is continually recreated. He calls her expression postmodern because it contains visibility, obscurity, variety and ‘momentality’ as typical stylistic devices of the postmodern strategy of writing.
Anka Zagar is one of the leading Croatian poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Although she refrains from using labels herself, in critical discussion the more or less felicitous phrase ‘semantic concretism’ has been adopted for her work. Pseudo-infantile incantation, stream of consciousness, punning with words, unexpected blending of tradition and modernism, original syntactic interventions, arbitrary punctuation, neologisms and the sublimation of Croatian folk phrasing make her poetry extremely demanding when it comes to translation.
Milos Djurdjevic on Anka Zagar:
"The attitude towards language here is meditated by a separation of the semantic layers, and thus it is possible, desirable in the view of some, to introduce some new, innovative and/or remarkable linguistic combinations. The surplus of meaning that arises is manifested according to the rules of form, that is in the lyric tone. This opens up a somewhat risky shortcut that can very rapidly lead to the only half-controlled making of verse out of literally any linguistic material at all.
Anka Zagar’s poetry is an exhaustible well of verbal and sensory sensations. If we shift the center of gravity to one side or the other, her verse become unintelligible, hermetic in the sense of being composed of exclusive one-time sensations. But this dichotomy is of subsidiary importance. That this is so is witnessed by the incontestable affirmation of the substratum of her poetry among the reading public, it is often read in an exalted, euphoric tone. And this kind of response from the readers would certainly not be possible if it were a poetry closed and hard to access. Nevertheless, the basic, vital intonation of her verses is mainly covered indirectly with appropriate lyric material. There is a frequent evocation of emotional states such as sadness. The key images of her poetry come into being in an all-embracing, radical annihilation of every sensation."
Isla i sve zaboravila (She Went and Forgot Everything). Zagreb, 1983.
Onaon (She-He). Zagreb, 1984.
Zemunice u snu (Mud Houses in a Dream). Zagreb, 1987.
Uzme mi nesto u snu dok me nema (He takes Something from Me in My Sleep While I’m Not There). Zagreb, 1989.
Nebnice (Sky-poems). Zagreb, 1990.
GUAR rosna zivotinja (GUAR, the Animal of Dew). Zagreb 1992.
Stisavanje izvora (The Silencing of Sources). Zagreb, 1996.