Krešimir Bagić was born in 1962 in Gradište, a small town in Slavonia, eastern Croatia. He studied Croatian language and literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, where he completed his postgraduate studies in linguistics. After his studies he found a post in the Department of Stylistics in the Croatian Literature Department of Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy, where he initially worked as an assistant and subsequently became chief of the department, the position he currently holds. Between 1996 and 1999 he was Reader in Croatian at the Sorbonne in Paris. Since 2005 he has been the head of the Zagreb Slavic Studies School, an international seminar for foreign Slavists attached to the Croatian Literature Department, which takes place in Dubrovnik and was founded in 1970.
Bagić began to publish criticism and poetry as a student; in the mid-1980s he edited the weekly student newspaper Studentski list and the literary magazine Quorum, and then worked as an editor for Croatian Radio’s Third Program. Between 1999 and 2002 he had a column in the daily Jutarnji list, in which he discussed new Croatian verse. These were later published in book form as Brisani prostor (The Killing Zone), after the title of the columns. He has published several collections of poetry, as the sole author and in collaboration with others. In 2003 he published Le palmier se balance, (Paris, Editions Caractères), a selection of his poetry in French translation by M. Andrašijević. He has published an anthology of contemporary Croatian short stories, Goli grad (The Naked City: Zagreb 2003, Ljubljana 2005), a series of essays and studies on Croatian literature, and edited a number of collections of specialist writings and essays.
Bagić's first book of poetry, Svako slovo je kurva, (Every Letter's a Slut: Zagreb 1988) was written in collaboration with the prose writer Boris Gregorić, and is properly an unpretentious collection of humorous verse, witticisms and light-hearted language games, largely written in the shadow of the neo-avant-garde, which was relatively influential at the time, and which figured for some younger poets as an attractive field in which they could investigate the possibilities of their own lyric expression. These initial experiences are evident in his subsequent verse, where he made some attempt to alloy or imbue the modernistic lyric approach on which his verse draws, and from which it emerges, with the poetics of adversarial national contemporary avant-garde verse. However, as it turned out, it was the modernistic tradition which prevailed in this encounter. A sort of emptiness, a kind of vacuum, can therefore be observed in his poetry, in the sense of an allusion to a semantic layer which is essentially non-verbal, and which might very easily obscure the intentions of the poem, in other words, utterly exhaust the legible content alluded to by his verse. Bagić discovered a specific solution to the problem of the relationship between modernism and tradition in his poetry about football, which he has treated in a manner without any precedent in Croatian poetry.
In a literary discussion at the end of the 1980s, one young critic, in explaining his conception of post-modernism and this term’s related literary derivatives, made reference to the game of football as being, in his view, an almost self-explanatory model by which he attempted to elucidate a number of those contrasts by which, as he thought, might be possible to fundamentally transform the understanding of modern literature. As far as I am aware, he was alluding predominantly to the contrast between so-called high and low literature, which relies on a pre-existent matrix or convention within the mind of the recipient, i.e. the reader. The terminology of Hans Robert Jauss (the horizon of expectations, etc.), which was very popular with Croatian critics at this time, and which had entered literary interpretation from the jargon of sports journalism, indicates that such a comparison was not accidental. A dozen years later football was to become an actual, substantial and complex subject of cultural study.
For Krešimir Bagić, football in poetry operates in a similar way. This is the area where it is possible to bridge culturological and physical distances successfully, a space where the poet-as-voice in the poem can relax and feel at home. Furthermore, it is possible to use football to allude to a number of the subjects and oppositions which pervade Bagić’s verse: the internal and the external, the individual and the group, the concrete and the abstract, and so forth. The game also manifests itself as an ideal medium of communication within a culture regarding which the Croats have continually cherished a particular sensibility, to be precise, ever since Matoš at the beginning of the 20th century, up to and including the writers and critics of the 1960s and 70s. It is, then, no coincidence that Bagić finds a space here for penguins, his favourite metaphorical creatures, which live in colonies, and are “outfitted” identically, just as if they were wearing a team strip.
Svako je slovo kurva, with Boris Gregorić, IGK, Zagreb 1988
Između dva snažna dima, RZ RK SSOH, Zagreb 1989
Krošnja, Naklada MD/Meandar, Zagreb 1994
Bršljan, Meandar, Zagreb, 1996
Jezik za svaku udaljenost, Naklada MD, Zagreb 2001
Le palmier se balance, trans. Marin Andrijašević, Editions Caracteres, Paris 2003
U polutami predgrađa, Disput, Zagreb 2006.
Četiri dimenzije sumnje, with J. Matanović, M. Mićanović and V. Bogišić, essays, Quorum, Zagreb 1988
Živi jezici, study, Naklada MD, Zagreb 1994
Umijeće osporavanja - pjesnički stilovi A. G. Matoša i M. Krleže, study, Naklada MD, Zagreb 1999
Brisani prostor, newspaper columns, Meandar, Zagreb 2002
Treba li pisati kako dobri pisci pišu, essays, Disput, Zagreb 2004.
Rječnik Trećeg programa, essays, HRT, Zagreb, 1995.
Poštari lakog sna, a selection from the contemporary Croatian short stories, Naklada MD, Zagreb 1996
Goli grad - antologija hrvatske kratke priče 80-ih i 90-ih, anthology of the Croatian short stories from 1980s and 1990s, Naklada MD, Zagreb, 2003; Slovenian edition, Golo mesto - antologija hrvaške kratke proze, Študentska založba, Ljubljana 2005
Važno je imati stila, essays, Disput, Zagreb 2003
Bacite stil kroz vrata, vratit će se kroz prozor: suvremena francuska i frankofona stilistika, criticism, Naklada MD, Zagreb 2006
Award "Ivan Goran Kovačić" for the first book of poetry, with Boris Gregorić, 1988
Award "Julije Benešić" for the book, Brisani prostor, 2002.