Nada Topić

Croatia

Nada Topić (Split, 1977) is a writer, scholar, and librarian. She has published five poetry books: Svetac u trajektnoj luci (A saint in the harbor, 2005), Meteorologija tijela (Meteorology of the body, 2015), Bezbroj i druge jednine (Myriad and other singularities, 2017), Otac (The father, 2019) and Sestra (The sister, 2020); the picture book Kako se rodila roda (How a stork was born, 2007), the book of short stories Male stvari (Small things, 2016), lyrical prose book Stope u snijegu (Footsteps in the snow, 2019) and a novel Morpho amathonte (2020). Some of her poetry and short stories has been translated into Bulgarian, Romanian and German. She holds a Ph.D. in Information and Communication Sciences and she is the author of the scientific monograph Knjižara Morpurgo u Splitu (1860. – 1947.) i razvoj kulture čitanja (Morpurgo bookstore in Split (1860-1947) and the development of reading culture, 2017). She lives in Solin and works as a school librarian. Also, she leads the reading club Kult (na) ura in the Solin Public Library.


Nada Topić was born in Split in 1977. She is active as a writer, literary scholar and librarian. Operating in a wide scope of genres, till now she has published six poetry books, some of them with big commercial publishers and others in self-publishing, avoiding the pressures and the mechanisms of the book market and the related industry. The volumes are Svetac u trajektnoj luci (A saint in the harbor, 2005), Meteorologija tijela (Meteorology of the body, 2015), Bezbroj i druge jednine (Myriad and other singularities, 2017), Otac (The Father, 2019), Sestra (The Sister, 2020) and Stope u snijegu (Footsteps in snow, 2019). Besides the poetry collections – or better books, since most of them are highly conceptualized –  she has also published the picture book Kako se rodila roda (How a stork was born, 2007), the book of short stories Male stvari (Small things, 2016), and the most recently a novel, Morpho amathonte (2020). Some of her poetry and short stories appeared in Bulgarian, Romanian and German translation. She holds a Ph.D. in Information and Communication Sciences and she is the author of the scientific monograph Knjižara Morpurgo u Splitu (1860. – 1947.) i razvoj kulture čitanja (Morpurgo bookstore in Split (1860-1947) and the development of reading culture, 2017). She lives in Solin and works as a school librarian, serving also as a host of the reading club Kult (na) ura in the Solin Public Library.  

    Though she has published her first book some fifteen years ago, only recently have the books of Nada Topić reached wider readership and critical attention. Unlike many poets of her generation, whose debuts had launched them straight under the spotlights, but also strongly marked their trajectories and often remained their best or best-known work, books of Nada Topić were gradually becoming more and more complex and neatly structured, resulting with thick, sometimes interlinked body of work, with the latest titles being also her finest ones. The good example is the book Footsteps in Snow, that was recently shortlisted for the Kamov Award, given by the Croatian Writer’s Society. 

    The author will prefer to address the book as a lyrical prose – for sure, a hybrid form in prose, only occasionally involving verse is in question. The plot was taken from a long-forgotten episode depicted in the local press, revolving around fatal freezing of two young boys in the snow-covered hill, not far from home. The narration is polyperspective, presented trough the voices of objects, things and natural phenomena. The later function as speech masks of a sort: we read the statements of these self-conscious entities – beings, things and phenomena – who take on the role of narrator in Ich-form, each responsible for its own short section. These statements, most often connected by the means of metonymy, are then chained into a clearly narrative, fable-wise and plot-wise simple, linearly told tragic story. Already the first scene introduces us to two brothers; boys aged ten and eleven, and their mother, consequentially developing the episode and the characters to the very end. The ubiquitous snow appears in the text as a conductive motif, metaphorical support, initiator of the action and metatextual palimpsest-medium. The story will end with the metatextual twist, involving reprints of the newspaper articles that have triggered the story in the first place.

    The books The Father and The Sister are both book-length meditations on the family, closeness and loss, forming a family diptych of a sort. Self-standing poems of The Father may be observed also as stanzas of a complete Canto, forming a fragmentary narrative. The preceding title, Myriad and other singularities, was rooted in a cat and mouse chase between the strict numerical organization and the mystified floating signifier. The whole book, as well as the individual poems, resembles a structure of Chinese boxes, or Russian babushkas. Whatever entities are in question (this indeterminacy is a crucial factor of the poetic defamiliarization), they cross spatial and temporal boundaries without problems, being scattered across the existing and some possible globes, from Atlantis, through Tierra del Fuego and Andalusia to Troy, the banks of Tiber and Tokyo. They host an entire bulk of directly named or just attributed characters – to list just some of them here: Murakami, Pythagoras, Mondrian, Lorca, Magellan, Matthew, the Evangelists Mark, Luke and John, Marilyn Monroe… Referring to the book in the context of her librarian background, the author will say: this collection resembles a personal imaginary catalog in which the experience of reading not only literary texts, but all human knowledge is embedded, the knowledge which is stored for the most part in books.

    In another conversation, the poet will wrap up her own method and style as follows: I love precision and I think the hallmark of all the books I’ve written is conciseness, stylization and a certain tendency not to actually say it all the way through. I love whiteness, the empty space, so there is a lot of gaps in the books, a lot of white pages. I think poetry is such a form that requires it, it actually lives all of its suggestiveness and from what is not said, from what we can only sense.