Željka Horvat Čeč

Croatia

Željka Horvat Čeč was born in Čakovec in 1986. She graduated in Croatian language and literature at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka. She published one prose and two poetry collections: I zvijezde se smiju krhkosti [The Stars also Laugh at Frailty] and Moramo postati konkretni [We Have to Become Concrete] (2015), a highly-acclaimed book even outside the regional context. She's one of the authors in the anthology Ima boljih stvari od suhe odjeće [There are Better Things Than Dry Clothes].

She won the first prize at the “Zlatko Tomčić” short story competition, a success which she repeated at the poetry competition organized by the magazine Ulaznica. She's a member of an informal literary association of writers from Rijeka Ri-Lit with whom she performs on a regular basis. She lives in Rijeka where she organizes book launches, discussions and readings. 


The writing of Horvat Čeč can be characterized by the economy and the transparency of her verse, the every-day conversational style devoid of ornamentation and most of the commonly utilized poetic figures, as well by the explicit treatment of the most pressing social issues.

According to the critics, the crux of this author's po-ethics is contained within the final verses of the opening poem in her latest book: We'll have to ask the fortune-teller / to win the lottery or for a death of a politician. / We have to become concrete.

Economy of her verse seems to consciously eliminate any kind of acoustic or rhythmic acrobatics in favour of semantics and the conceptual plane: it is a kind of a poetic anatomy. The narrative logic of her writing usually revolves around everyday situations in the life of the lyrical protagonist who can be identified as the author herself to the extent that the ontological barrier allows it to be within this essentially confessional poetics; small, seemingly causal and loosely staged plays taken from private and public spheres are incorporated within the poem's unity by a feedback loop of a well-thought-out bottom line. In the poems where this approach is less successful, the issue of “bulk” emerges, i.e. the impossibility to ascribe to them the supra-individual meaning, thus they are unable to surpass the level of various sketches or “concrete-abstract” croquis.

Horvat Čeč usually succeeds in being poetically and effectively witty, thus bringing a more than welcomed dynamics into Croatian poetry which is, in most part, deficient in the field of instrumentalized humour. In accordance with the title and the framework of her book, the author doesn’t shy away from an explicit and critical reflexion on contemporary political issues: from the stoning of the pride parade in Split, the fate of the laid-off 3. Maj workers, to the institutionalized family and church abuse of children. Direct, brief & clear!