Alen Brlek

- Croatia -

Alen Brlek was born in Zagreb in 1988. He won Na vrh jezika award for the best unpublished poetry book (Metakmorfoze) in 2013. His second book, Pratišina, was published in Serbia (Kontrast, 2017). With poet Darko Šeparović, and the musician Emil Andreis he is exploring spaces and atmospheres of poetry and music within the “Zaron” project. His poems were published in a number of magazines and translated into a number of languages. 

The quest of language: hidden paths, short circuits

Alen Brlek belongs to the youngest generation of Croatian poets, emerging in the middle of the second decade of the millennium. For his first manuscript, Metakmorfoze (the title, symptomatic for the author’s overall oeuvre, is a neologism pun mixing “the bullet” and canonical Ovid’s “Metamorphosis”) Brlek won “Na vrh jezika” prize, significant award for the emerging authors, resulting with his first book being published in 2014 with the mainstream Algoritam editions. His second book appeared in 2017, for the Belgrade, Serbia based publisher Kontrast. The title, Pratišina, follows the same compound principle, creating an unexpected and dense meaning within what might at the first glance seem as “regular”, maybe just slightly awkward, stuttered everyday word. “The dust” is met and blended with “the silence”, adding also the auditory resemblance of “the jungle”, bringing the exciting resonance of both domestic and worm and exotic, distant and cold, present and past, still standing and long gone, said and unsaid, present and absent. Brlek’s poetry remains deeply within the quest and mystery of the language, exploring its hidden paths and provoking short circuits, questioning its very logic. As the Russian formalists would put it: Brlek decided that it’s the last moment for the world (via words) to be seen again, not merely recognized.

The topics of the particular poems (author’s books are collections and “books” at the same time – every poem stands alone and sufficient, but highly interacting with the surrounding lyrical topography) might not seem to be in focus within the language-focused paradigm, and indeed, Brlek is far away from simply noting the daily routines – the practice quite representative for the rest of his generation. The possible, indirect political of his work works on a long run, avoiding the daily references and choosing to undermine their unavoidable ideological framework: the language. His little bombs, landmines in the thick territory of word-coining and syntax, patiently wait for their moment, and the victim appears to be not in flesh and blood, but the body count of lexicalized, worn-out meanings and metaphors, the make-see surprise being their main explosive charge.

Brlek’s poems were published in literary magazines and web-sites, and he often, having a hip-hop background, performs his work on stage. In cooperation with the musician Emil Andreis and poet Darko Šeparović he’s been since recently performing as “Zaron”, musical/spoken word project reaching out to the initially not poetry keen audiences and merging different scenes. He’s regularly publishing his new work on Facebook, and for those poems he was shortlisted for the 2017 “Post scriptum” prize, dedicated to the literature emerging in the social networks.

In an interview following the release of his second poetry volume, asked to describe his poetics, the author gave a short but clear answer: Punk’s not dead