Marija Andrijašević

- Croatia -

Marija Andrijašević (b. 1984, Split) is a Croatian poet. She holds MA in Comparative literature and Ethnology and social anthropology (2015) from University of humanities and social sciences in Zagreb. In 2007 she was awarded with „Goran for young poets“ for her book of poetry david, they did things to me. Before and after that, she published her poetry in literary magazines (Re, Quorum, Knjigomat, Poezija). Her poetry is included in anthologies of contemporary poetry (I u nebo i u niksHrvatska mlada lirika...) as well as Italian selection of poetry from Balkans Voci di donne della ex Jugoslavia. Periodically, she translates American contemporary poetry for the Third programme of the Croatian Radio and interviews female writers from Balkans for Her poetry has been translated to Slovenian, Italian, Ukranian, English, Polish, and Romanian. She lives in Zagreb and works for Student Centre Zagreb, Culture of Change as PR and Community manager. In 2015/16 she attended and finished Centre for Women’s Studies Zagreb programme. In 2018 she received an annual grant from Republic of Croatia Ministry of Culture for her work-in-progress first novel Grad na vodi (The City on the Water).

Andrijašević's long, narrative, sharp and deeply distressing confessional poems have left a discernible mark on the latest incarnations originating within the same scene, especially visible in the writings of the youngest generation of poetesses. Andrijašević’s bare and “harsh” poetics, relying on the language economy of the straightforwardness of slang and dialectical idiom, personal experiences, family history of a provincial town, as it is simultaneously and deeply immersed in pop culture and postmodern theoretical matrix, was welcomed as a due novelty, while the author was proclaimed as one of the most interesting new voices, with a strong emphasis on a specific affirmation of the contemporary female experience.

The poet and critic Krešimir Bagić describes her debut book of poetry as a “powerful, narrative poetry, which combines biography and literary fiction, real and dream-like states, tenderness and controversy”, while, according to the critic Darija Žilić, the poetry of Marija Andrijašević draws on the American “confessional” school of poetry, documenting personal suffering and trauma. However, what makes her poetry exceptional is that it managed to avoid the traps usually associated with confessional poetry – primarily the one which uses a poem as a point of excretion. Instead, it is a direct, but well-thought-out poetization of female subjectivity. Her heroine is situated within a destructive family context, writing ironically about the institution of family, familial and social rituals, as well as about the language of conventions. The family which she poeticizes is “cursed”, in the gothic meaning of the word, nomadic, existing outside the rules. Within such a desolate and diseased environment, she is searching for her own voice, but the interesting thing is that she does not use it as means of social engagement but rather as means of creating a personal perspective. The identity is formed in relation to others, so she questions the issue of identity – she questions whose identity has to be stolen, how to free oneself from family heritage, that is, how not to reproduce familial “madness”, how to preserve one’s autonomy when it is necessary to join a group (“I don’t like associations, they kill one’s identity”), or how to preserve one’s right to privacy (“why do you want to know anything about me?”). In the long free verse narrative poems, she relates other people’s “naggings” about her lifestyle, her own justifications, frantically noting her stream of consciousness and following her emotions in a frenzy, in order to “earn” her right to write. However, instead of concrete actions, which are expected from her and which she mentions as being a social imperative, she makes creations out of words, playing with language. In the real world, she withdraws within, noting that the dilemma of whether or not she should open up to the world and “tell the terrible secrets” is going to swallow her whole. Avoiding having to make decisions, she catalogues her misfortunes wanting to free herself from the painful past and live “in the now”. Writing shields her from speech (“it is too late to speak up, so I write”); she is uprooted, faithless (“God has become a luxury to me”). Love relationships is where is looks for some kind of a foothold, while her writing about love is postmodern – she perceives the discourse of love as a play of phrases, thus she racks up pathetic expressions, clichés, children’s rhymes, excerpts from virtual communication, a variety of quotes – from films, commercials, TV series, pop songs, from everyday situations. When addressing the Other, she debates, repeats rhetorical questions, seduces, theatrically fabricates new roles, contradicts via paradoxes, introducing – on no account poetic – images of violence, blood that inscribe the body. She provides a narcissistic introspection of herself in the mirror, notes her own movements, bodily changes, through an interplay between two bodies. Her narcissism is also evident in various analyses of her own being – in the insecurities, alternating between irrefutability and uncertainty, sophistry, anticipations of the future – how others see her “for herself” and she “for oneself”. Andrijašević notes that the order of things is irrelevant when meaning cannot be located in one place. Therefore, there is no succession in her poetry – reminiscences of her painful past alternate with anticipations which play with the stereotypes of happiness and orderly bourgeois life. The idiosyncrasy of her work is expressed exactly through this radical “self-exposure”, through a non-therapeutic confession, a neoromantic noting of emotions that are, as she writes, dislocated. And locating these emotions is precisely the central focus of her exciting poetry. 

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