writers

Ivan Slamnig

(1930-2001)



A Short Biography

by Sibila Petlevski[1]

 

Poet, story teller, dramatist, literary theorist and translator, born in 1930 in Metković. Died in 2001 in Zagreb. Ivan Slamnig studied at the Arts’ Faculty in Zagreb from 1949 to 1955. He was a university lecturer at the Arts’ Faculty in Zagreb and he translated literature from English, Russian, Italian and Swedish. Slamnig translated many world classics and a number of books by contemporary authors. He completed several valuable anthologies such as An anthology of Croatian poetry, from the earliest records to the end of the 19th century (Antologija hrvatske poezije, od najstarijih zapisa do kraja XIX stoljeća) Zagreb 1964, An anthology of Croatian poetry of the 17th century (Antologija hrvatske poezije XVII stoljeća) and An anthology of Croatian poetry from A. Kačić Miošić to A. G. Matoš (Antologija hrvatske poezije od A. Kačića Miošića do A. G. Matoša) Zagreb 1979. He also wrote plays, essays and scientific books.

It is hard to imagine a poet with greater versatility than Ivan Slamnig. He was certainly one of the most innovative and unpredictable poets of the eighties. He enjoyed toying slightly whimsically with poetic conventions. He explored the bizarre and, in several of his poems from the fifties, the spiritual. His early poems are gems of imagism. An autobiographical element appears more evident in his later fiction and poetry. In his best work robust comic energy and elements of pathos work alongside each other in a creative partnership. His range is wide, covering poetry, fiction, one-act plays and essays. He was a seminal writer of the 1980s who started his literary career in the 1950s, publishing poems, essays and translations in an influential literary magazine entitled Circles (Krugovi). Slamnig’s authentic poetic vision survived into the nineties. He has both a popular following and the admiration of his fellow poets. The death of Ivan Slamnig was a heavy blow for Croatian writers, who enormously admired him. His work is full of literary allusions and brilliant elements of pastiche. There can be a touch of the macabre in his work but there is also humor. Slamnig is greatly interested in how ordinary people handle their lives. This writer made a major impact on the Croatian literary scene, especially on the new generation for whom humor and casualness in relationships are often the norm. His poetry is fastidious to a degree and his interest in poetic monologue and dialogue techniques in poetry appears deliberately indebted to American modernism. Slamnig excels in shorter forms of poetry.

He has also proved a remarkable novelist, with his novel The Better Part of Courage winning a place in the Croatian graduate school literature program. He wrote his first books in the fifties and thus caught the social atmosphere of the fifties, especially the mood of the post-war generation coming to adulthood at the time. The development of the Croatian post-modern novel owes much to the pioneering work of Ivan Slamnig although he did not write much in the genre of fiction. Already his first collection, The Avenue after the Ceremony (1956) put him into the master class of modern poets. Slamnig was particularly sharp as an observer of suburban pathos – which was apparent in his later collections such as Dronta (1981), Sed scholae (1987) and Relatively upside down (1987).

There are no simple moral certainties affirmed in his books. He examined disturbing areas of our sexual personalities never losing his sense of humor. He was a skillful poet who in a deft verse could capture the pain of ordinary living. Slamnig is a comparatively rare author whose appeal is almost universal, as much to the holiday reader as to the student of modern poetry. Slamnig’s work eludes easy categorization. His books greatly influenced the emergence of a playful and urban new voice in Croatian poetry, calling into question the traditional values. Slamnig is an excellent poet of modern constructivism who remains, at the same time, quite paradoxically, emotionally attached to Baroque and Romantic literary traditions, from English metaphysical poetry to Heine and some local authors from the epoch of Romanticism. In the scale and versatility of his achievement Ivan Slamnig is a major figure among contemporary Croatian poets.

 

 

Poetic works

 

The Avenue after the Ceremony (Zagreb, 1956)

Landslide (Zagreb, 1956)

Siesta in Narona (Zagreb, 1963)

Limbo (Zagreb, 1973)

Analecta (Zagreb, 1971)

Poems (Zagreb, 1973)

Dronta (Zagreb, 1981)

Selected works (Zagreb, 1983)

Relatively Upside Down (Zagreb, 1987)

Sed scholae (Zagreb, 1987)

Collected Poems (Zagreb, 1990)

Wounded Cannon (Zagreb 2000), Tin Ujević Award



[1] Sibila Petlevski 11964o, poet, novelist, playwright, theatre scholar and literary critic, was born in Zagreb. She teaches at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. Both her poetry and her fiction have been translated into many languages, and she has given readings and public recitals at several international literary events. Poetic works: Crystals (1988), Jump from the Spot (1990), One Hundred Alexandrian Epigrams (1993), Choreography of Suffering (2002).

 

panorama

Discover Croatia This Autumn

Croatia’s bountiful beaches and pristine sea usually attract the most visitors in the summer, but autumn offers its own array of tempting events from Dali exhibits to concerts, pop up gardens and truffle festivals. See what Croatia has to offer this autumn by clicking on the link below.

panorama

Istria Through a Literary Lens

It’s not hard to feel the pull of the glistening Adriatic in these especially hot summer months. Istria exerts a special magnetic pull with its rolling, green Tuscanesque hills, stunning historical towns, not to mention excellent seafood and local cuisine washed down with Malvazija wine, numerous blue flag beaches with crystal clear water and of course proximity to Zagreb.

Jonathon Bousfield as usual takes a look at Istria with a touch more depth and sophistication than the average visitor, inviting readers to observe it through the immortal words of famous writers who have some kind of connection to the peninsula.

Read Bousfield’s literary guide to Istria in the link below.

review

Review of Daša Drndić's Belladonna

One of Croatia's brightest literary stars who sadly passed away last year left a trove of brilliant writing as her legacy. Read a review of Daša Drndić's novel, Belladonna (2012), in the link below.

panorama

Zagreb's Street Art

So you're visiting Zagreb and are curious about it's underground art scene? Check out this guide to Zagreb's street art and explore all the best graffiti artists' work for yourself on your next walk through the city.

interview

An Interview with Olja Savičević Ivančević

Step into the award-winning author Olja Savičević Ivančević’s world as she peels away the many layers of her hometown Split and all of Dalmatia in the interview below.

panorama

Zagreb's Amazing Daughters

International Women’s Day offers the opportunity to reflect on amazing women that have made a lasting impression on the world. But recognizing the important ways women shape and impact our world shouldn’t be limited to one day out of the year. Check out some of Zagreb’s most memorable women in the link below.

panorama

Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

What’s the best way for an open-minded foreigner to get straight to the heart of another culture and get a feel for what makes people tick? Don’t just sample the local food and drink and see the major sights, perk up your ears and listen. There’s nothing that gives away the local flavor of a culture more than the common phrases people use, especially ones that have no direct translation.

Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

Just got out of a serious relationship and don't know what to do with all those keepsakes and mementos of your former loved one? The very popular and probably most unique museum in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to preserving keepsakes alongside the diverse stories of relationships gone wrong, will gladly take them. Find out how the museum got started and take an in-depth look at some of its quirkiest pieces in the link below.

panorama

The Lasting Impact of the 1980s on Zagreb

Find out how the 1980s, which saw the pinnacle of the domestic music scene, uncertain and rapidly changing political circumstances, and a more open and critical media, shaped the soul of modern-day Zagreb.

panorama

Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s relaxed, charming and pedestrian-friendly capital. Check out Time Out’s definitive Zagreb guide for a diverse set of options of what to explore in the city from unusual museums to legendary flea markets and everything in between.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in Split, the heart and soul of the city. Because of the palace, Split’s city center can be described as a living museum and it draws in the thousands of tourists that visit the city annually. But how much do we really know about the palace’s namesake who built it, the last ruler of a receding empire? Jonathan Bousfield contends that history only gives us a partial answer.

interview

The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield's Take on the Croatian Cultural Landscape in 2018

What could possibly tie together island musicals, political thrillers, 60s Yugoslavian culture, contemporary Croatian authors, graphic novels set amongst a backdrop of urban decay, Le Cobustier inspired architecture and a classic 20th century author’s firsthand account of 1920s Russia? Proving that he really does have his finger on the pulse of Croatian’s cultural scene, Jonathon Bousfield expounds on all of this and more in his 2018 Croatian Cultural Guide, check it out in the link below.

review

Jonathon Bousfield Reviews the English Translation of Krleža's Journey to Russia

Krleža, a giant of 20th century European literature, is woefully undertranslated into English. Read Jonathon Bousfield’s compelling review of the master Krleza’s part travelogue, part prose account of the time he spent in Russia as a young man in the mid-1920s, Journey to Russia, which is accessible to English readers for the first time.

panorama

Mirogoj Cemetery: An Architectural Jewel

Going to a cemetery may not be the first idea that pops into your mind when visiting a new city. But the stunning Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, which was designed by the renowned Austrian architect, Herman Bolle, is definitely worth a bit of your time. Read more below to find out why.

panorama

You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

Dolac, the main city market, is a Zagreb institution. Selling all the fresh ingredients you need to whip up a fabulous dinner, from fruits and vegetables to fish, meat and homemade cheese and sausages, the sellers come from all over Croatia. Positioned right above the main square, the colorful market is a beacon of a simpler way of life and is just as bustling as it was a century ago.

panorama

Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

panorama

Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.

report

Hollywood and Dubrovnik

The medieval city in Croatia is having a geek-culture moment as the setting for King’s Landing in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”.
Hollywood seems to have discovered Dubrovnik. Parts of The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the Star Wars saga, also take place in the fortress town. Filming wrapped this year on a new Robin Hood film starring Taron Eagerton, Jamie Foxx, and Jamie Dornan (and produced by Leonard DiCaprio). The 25th James Bond film is reported to begin shooting in the city in January 2018.
But not everyone appreciates all the attention.

panorama

Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.

panorama

Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.

panorama

Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

Authors' pages

Književna Republika Relations PRAVOnaPROFESIJU LitLink mk zg