Ana Brnardić

Croatia

Ana Brnardić was born in Zagreb in 1980. She holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature and Croatian Language and Literature (University of Zagreb) and an M.A. in music (violin; Music Academy in Zagreb). She has published four collections of poems: Some Sage’s Pencil (1998 – The Goran Award for Young Poets and The Slavić Award by Croatian Writers' Association for the best debut poetry collection in 1999), Waltzing Snakes (2005 – The Kvirin Award for young poets), The Genesis of Birds (2009), and Hotel cu muzicieni (selected poems in Romanian, Bucharest, Romania, 2009, trans. into Romanian by Dumitru M. Ion). Her new collection of poems, Uphill (Uzbrdo) was published in Zagreb in April 2015. In 2016 her collection Postanak ptica was translated into Swedish by Djordje Zarkovic - Fåglarnas tillblivelse, Rámus förlag, Malmö, Sweden, 2016.

She has recently started writing a book of short prose.


Her poems have been translated into a dozen of languages, and published in various Croatian and foreign literary magazines and anthologies. She translates (together with Adrian Oproiu) modern and contemporary Romanian fiction (Urmuz, Bizarre Pages, Litteris, Zagreb, 2014; M. Blecher, Occurrence in the Immediate Unreality, Editions Božičević, Zagreb, 2014),  and poetry (Geo Bogza, Gellu Naum, Nora Iuga, Marta Petreu, Claudiu Komartin, Cosmin Perţa, etc.).

 

Already with her first, award-winning collection of poems Some Sage’s Pencil Ana Brnardić occupied a special place on the scene of younger Croatian poetry. The feeling for sonority and  physicality of words, and unusual and often elusive associations has marked her writing ever since . Having tested the limits of language, in her next poetry collection, Waltzing Snakes, she has created a distinctive poetic world, whose meanings are elusive, and the atmosphere very palpable – oniric imagery, fantasy, fairy-tale quality are just some of the categories applicable to that poetry. What is at work here is a poetic mythology, mediated by the elements of narration, fantastic characters, unusual spaces and transformations of the lyrical subject, who feels closest to the intimacy of her own room and the feeling of at-homeness. Due to the presence of musical motifs in her poems, Croatian literary critic Zvonimir Mrkonjić  stated that Ana Brnardić has modeled her poetry “not on speech, but music", which acts as a "liberation from all kinds of selfishness and establishes a kind of original chaos". Even the poet herself will comment on the relationship between music and poetic creation: "I'm attracted to the idea of listening as a kind of ennobling fasting process that cleans, sharpens and widens the spirit. Such a condition, once it has been reached, can become a powerful inspiration for writing ".

 

The collection The Genesis of Birds (2009) has been marked by a shift in the construction of the poems – a dense fragmentarity of  images has now been substituted by lyrical narration, which continues in its oniric vein, already inherent to the poet (animal and vegetable motifs, chthonic symbolism), but occasionally she "inserts" some recognizable fragments of reality (eg. the U.S. A. and Romanian localities). However, some of the signature features of the author's writing - sensitivity for the tactile character of words, an ability to create the phrases of high semantic “density” - have fully been preserved in the new context. The focus on language as medium of lyric poetry is evident in her thematization of the writing process. In her poem Writing on the Keys typing on a typewriter is imaginatively compared to climbing the mountain ("blocky letters are like unconquerable gorge"), while in the poem Happiness typing is "the most secret rite of a happy man".

 

Ana Brnardić’s new poems continue to develop the lyrical narrative based on the effect of defamiliarization. Poetic images elegantly stream into each other, without any sharp transitions but with a constant exchange of perspectives that open up new dimensions of the lyrical world, often in just a few words. Poet’s universe radiates with a dark fairy-tale quality, so in such a world there are Titans "creaking in their oversized sheepskin coats" (Deck), "from the floor grow large ears that we use to communicate" (Mouthwatering), and "Lilliputians are snoring in the narrow streets" (Darkness). Her recent poems once again demonstrate the power of Anne Brnardić’s poetic imagination – they retain now well-known features of her style, but at the same time find new positions of observation, speaking and imagining. In short, it is a poet whose each new book reveals some areas we had no idea they existed.