Damir Šodan, one of the most interesting and talented Croatian poets of the younger generation, was born in Split in 1964 and majored in English Language and Literature, and History, at the Faculty of Philosophy at Zagreb University. So far he has published two volumes of poetry, Glasovne promjene (Sound Changes) (1996), and Srednji svijet (The Middle World) (2001), both to critical acclaim.
Šodan is one of the editors of the Feral Tribune Publishing House in Split. Over the past decade he has translated numerous American poets and prose writers into Croatian (Charles Simic, Raymond Carver, Allen Ginsberg, Thomas Lux, Denis Johnson, Thom Jones). In 1999 he edited and translated an anthology of New York poets under the title Broad-way for the Zagreb-based Quorum literary magazine.
Alongside poetry, Damir Šodan also writes for theatre, and in 2000, his play Zaštićena zona (Safe Area) won him the first prize in the playwriting competition for playwrights from former Yugoslavia, organized by the m.b.h. theater in Vienna and the Dutch cultural foundation Kultuur Kontakt. The play premiered in Zagreb in March 2002. A book of plays, Zaštićena zona/ Kain ili njegov brat (Safe Area/ Cain or His Brother), was published in Split in 2002, and Schutzzone, the German translation of Zaštićena zonai, was published the same year by Folio Verlag, Vienna.
A selection of his poetry translated into English is to appear in The American Poetry Review. Since 1995 he has worked as a translator for the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, where he currently resides.
Damir Šodan’s poetry is distinguished by a style that is both precise and cultivated. These are poems of clear imagery where the voice of the lyrical narrator constitutes just one of the components, perhaps even a peripheral one, in the poem’s construction. That voice is often diluted by irony, which as a rhetorical figure moves in both directions – towards the poet as a participant in the described event, and towards the reader. Thus both are provided with the necessary distance within which they can each constitute their own interpretation.
Having carefully honed his sensibility in such a manner, Šodan is able to capture that essential nucleus that lies behind the sensations and events represented in his poems, which gives his poetry an aura of uniqueness. Although we are all aware that it is only natural that what we try to convey to others cannot be communicated in its entirety, there are only a few poets who leave this surplus of meaning in the realm of the real. The skepticism ensuing from this poetic strategy can be recognized as a prominent characteristic of contemporary Croatian poetry, where the immediate experiences of an individual are gradually assuming central place.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Love
A Theory of Getting Dressed
A Letter to a Wild Scythian
Meanderings of Real History
Also on this site
‘In the arms of the world’
An interview with Damir Šodan by Miloš Đurđević.
Glasovne promjene. Naklada MD, Zagreb, 1996.
Srednji svijet. Naklada MD, Zagreb, 2001.
Broad-way. An anthology of New York poets. Quorum literary magazine, 1/1999.
Zaštićena zona/ Kain ili njegov brat. Feral Tribune Editions, Split, 2002.
Schutzzone. Translation of Zaštićena zona. Folio Verlag, Vienna, 2002.
In English, French and German
Transcript is a bi-monthly review of books and writing from around Europe in three languages – English, French and German – promoting literature written in the smaller languages.
Official website of the theater ZKM in Zagreb where Šodan’s play, Zaštićena zona (Safe Area), had its Croatian premiere.