Mateja Jurčević

Croatia

Mateja Jurčević was born in 1995 in Vinkovci (Croatia). She studies comparative literature and librarianship at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb.  In 2017, having been awarded the Croatian poetry accolade Goran Award for Young Poets in 2016, she had her awarded manuscript Paranoja (Paranoia) published under the title Bijela vrata (The White Door). Her second poetry collection, titled Žene iz Altamire (Women from Altamira) was published in 2019. As a result of her collaboration with Nikolina Maletić and Marko Kostić, the audio-project of the same name was made available online at https://www.zeneizaltamire.com/, thus providing the opportunity to listen to her second collection as well. When not writing poetry, she also writes literary reviews. Her poems have been published in numerous literary magazines and selections. She lives in Zagreb.


Mateja Jurčević was born in 1995 in Vinkovci. She studies comparative literature and librarianship at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, where she currently lives.   

Jurčević belongs to the youngest generation of the Croatian poets. She has emerged under the umbrella of the Croatia’s most significant accolade for the young poets – Goran Award for the Young Poets – that she has won in 2016, for her first full-length poetry manuscript, under the title Paranoia. The manuscript has been published in 2017 as Bijela Vrata (The White Door), under the SKUD IGK imprint “The New Croatian Poets”. 

MeandarMedia published her second poetry collection, titled Žene iz Altamire (Women from Altamira) in 2019. As a result of her collaboration with Nikolina Maletić and Marko Kostić, the audio-project of the same name was established online at https://www.zeneizaltamire.com/, providing the opportunity for the full-length audio experience of her second book as well. When not writing poetry, the author is engaged in literary criticism and reviews. Her poems have been published in numerous literary magazines and selections. 

Her debut was recognized as well rooted within the tradition of the local poetry practices, but at the same time offering exciting new perspectives. According to the poet and writer Ivica Prtenjača, the poetry of Mateja Jurčević is rich in heritage and experience of a very diverse poetic tradition; it is a combination of a passionate interest in poetic creation and a very decent notion of one's own place in all that. What Jurčević demonstrates with her poetry is not only the art of reduction, but also the ability to find another viewpoint, gender or voice. In her subtle and profound shifts, she witnesses the first experiences of everything that surrounds and permeates her. 

    If the first book has been signaling the formative paths and was marked by a struggle to establish a distinctive voice of one’s own, the second – the author’s most recent one – brings conceptually firm, complex structure, using ancient references and symbolical systems to address the omnipresent problems of contemporary life, equally on the individual and collective level. The symbolic potential of the title of Mateja Jurčević's book Žene iz Altamire suggests a polyperspective reading ranging from the primordial experiences of human closeness, or love in its most original form, to the area of imagination and creation, or moreover, re-creation of the visible and imaginary surroundings. The book functions as an intimate “document“ of an emotional relationship projected to an abstraction of a historical perspective – a sort of a background of what is eternal in a relationship between two people, and what remains determined in private relationships by temporariness (of circumstances, individual time and space), suggests the poet and editor Branko Čegec.

    Discussing the individual bond and personal drive in an interview, Jurčević will say: poetry determines you by changing the way you experience everything around you, not by the reward that comes when you are already neck-deep in and you can no longer get out of it. Poetry first attracted me to the sound of words, and only then to their meaning. Later, reading more and more, she awoke in me through the chain of small explosions. Some poems I still read only on the go, walking around the room. Poetry still bothers me, and what I am trying to create today is a vibrant web made of a myriad of circumstances and different encounters.

    The poet doesn’t neglect the wider perspective – the role of the author as an active part of society, as well as the personal responsibility, stressing the fine dialectics between individual and the collective. In her own words: we would like to change the collective with a few good and smart words, so we often forget that we should first address the individual, stand for him. Yet, for who knows what reason, perhaps in the desire for rapid change, we always appeal to the masses, and the masses are not a living being, they do not listen and do not sympathize, they are often recklessly cruel. Language is a deaf puppy even when there is no Other in it, when it is spoken only for the sake of it, to purify oneself, not taking into account the weight of words and the circumstances in which they are spoken. Poetry is the one that chooses words thoughtfully and that is why its message is irreplaceable. It does not have a violent approach and that’s why it always reaches out to those who can bring progress to the environment. It’s mostly about little people and their daily lives, but we make mistakes if we think it’s irrelevant. 

    The authors’ work in verse proves that particular relevancy, making it present and palpable, letting it echo.