Kristina Kočan

Slovenia

(1981, Slovenia) is a poet and a translator. In 2016, she received a PhD in Contemporary American Poetry at the Faculty of Arts in Maribor. So far, two of her poetry collections have been published, namely Šara (Junk, 2008, Litera) and Kolesa in murve (Bicycles and Mullberies, 2014, Zavod Itadakimasu). Her debut was nominated for the Best Debut Award. In 2009, the translation of selected poems by Audre Lorde, entitled Postaje (Stations, ŠKUC), was published. In 2006, she co-translated the anthology of African-American poetry, entitled Govoreči boben (Speaking Drum, Separatio). Her poetry, translations and articles are published in major Slovene literary magazines. She lives in Maribor. In 2018, her third poetry collection, titled Šivje, will come out.


The basis of the poetic language in Kočan's debut is in associations, which derive either from memory or direct experience and, in terms of motifs, fragments and clippings. Her poetry does not search for monolithic topics or themes. The Slovene critic, Mojca Pišek, finds the poetess' most charming gesture in her openness to contradiction, insecurity and unbalance, in her ongoing friction with the world – where poets often lose ground. This openness to the external world is firmly situated in her evocations of creative predecessors, and commentaries of her relationship to them.

Borut Gombač, a critic for a Slovene daily newspaper, claimed that Kočan's debut certainly belongs to the core of the poetic streams of Slovene literature, in which details play a more important role than themes.

 

Her second book continues on that journey and deepens the route. As the poet Sergej Harlamov writes in the foreword of the book: “...The abundance of intermediality and intertextuality does not point to a certain mellowness of the lyrical subject, or to a dry repetition of the already seen (…), but wants to tell the story or the experience…in a maze of quotations, sounds and images, which in an almost Proustian manner evoke memories, feelings, dreams and reveries.” The itinerary of her materials is never monotonous. We manage to meet surprising deviations at any given instance. In Bicycles and Mullberries, we do confront a topic or, better, two of them – love and eroticism. As the poet Milan Vincetič wrote, love and eroticism are no longer discussed from a sentimental standpoint, but rather from the bodily one, the physical. The body is trapped in the games of doubt and passion, and from this entrapment, verses derive. Love moves between experiences of exuberance and fear of loss that comes frivolously as nostalgia or hate – none of them ever prevails, Vincetič writes, in Kočan's work none of them can became the spiritus movens, simply because the bites her poetry takes are too small and too precise for tastes to push one another out.

 

Even with Kočan's second book, we mustn't forget her interest and love for music, painting and pop culture – this heritage gives her poetry extra intellectual weight, and defines her aesthetic tastes and biases which, of course (if we regard her translations), align with North American art. Her metropolitan flare tears her out of the geographical context of her first collection – she leaves Maribor behind, so she can open up to anonymity, lonesomeness that sometimes, only sometimes spills into loneliness.