Marjan Čakarević

- Serbia -

(born in 1978) got his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the Department of Serbian and World Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade and he is currently working on his PhD thesis. He published poetry, reviews, studies, essays, and translations since the second half of the 1990s in prominent Serbian and regional printed and web magazines. His publications include five volumes of poetry: Paragrad (Paracity, 1999), Sistem(System, 2011), Jezik(Language, 2014, Miroslav Antić Award), Sedam reči grada(Seven Words of the City, 2014) and Tkiva(Web(s), 2016, Branko Miljković Award). His poems appeared in anthologies and panoramas of contemporary Serbian poetry: Iz muzeja šumova(From the murmur Museum, 2009), UlaznicaEintrittkarte (bilingual German-Serbian Anthology, 2011), Prostori i figure(Spaces and Figures, 2012), Restart(2014) and Cat Painters(anthology of contemporary Serbian poetry, USA, 2016). He edited a thematic volume of Gradac magazine dedicated to dendism (2013) and the critical editions of poetry by Milan Milišić (2016), Aleksandar Ristović (with Alen Bešić and Ana Ristović, 2017) and Vujica Rešin Tucic (2018). He is an editor of literary and art magazine Polja. He lives in Belgrade.

Marjan Čakarević, born in Čačak in 1978, has debuted in the very end of the 1990’es, right in the middle of probably the worst days for contemporary Serbia: the country was surviving under heavy sanction after being defeated in the Yugoslav wars, it was, again, right in the middle of the new war in Kosovo, and at the same time faced with the NATO bombing. So it’s no wonder that author’s first collection Paragrad (Paracity), from its title onwards, brings at the same time dystopian, parallel system deeply rooted in the very essence of the omnipresent code – the language itself – as well as observes the very same “house of the being” as only legitimate shelter. Author’s earlier books remain in the similar tracks: all of them, Sistem (The System, 2011), Sedam reči grada(Seven Words of the City, 2014) andJezik(The Language, 2014) bring long, basically book-length poems, complex, multilayered and often “dry” in the delivery, obeying neatly to the pre-defined, poetic order of things: breeding its own, or fully appropriating the formerly existing codes. The referent points here are predominantly the historical avant-gardes, as well as – in the Yugoslav context extremely strong and vibrant – neo-avant-garde tendencies from the 60’s and 70’es.  

“Marjan Čakarević's poetic project is, from the first collection onwards, realized through a relatively clear and firm concept that is, in each individual collection, set as an attempt to find the key for depicting the totality (the system, the language, the city) in its various presences and layouts”, the critics have written. 

Great Yugoslav writer Bora Ćosić complies: “The first Marjan's poems seemed to be written in a sort of a lab, everything was embedded in formulas, almost mathematical; maybe this was the fault of the wise physics professor with whom he lives, perhaps not. One specter is hunting (not only) Europe – the specter of science, that is far more dangerous than the specter of communism”, writes Ćosić in an attempt to outline poetical turmoil that Čakarević most recent book Tkiva(Webs, 2016, Branko Miljković award) has brought. 

This critically acclaimed and awarded book significantly changed the landmarks of Čakarević’s poetry indeed. The subtle, highly modern lyrical style takes over, and the metaphor, almost absent from the earliest writings, rises to its full poetical power. Again, one long poem, the one that named the book, works as its axis and spine. The poet is this time focused more to himself then to the external framing and scaffolding – the system. This is a coming of age book, book with a melancholic flavor of the lost times, the childhood, and at the same time the text full of references to the formative influences, whether from literature, music, film, painting or other: in other words – nonetheless aBiographia LiterariaThe language, the elegant modernist texture, becomes the skeleton to which the flesh of memory is attached – and yes, of course, as if in a body: one cannot work without the other. 

“Namely, the whole book could be described as one great Bildungs-poem, the process of the poem-making, as well as the story of growing up. By building up (tissues) of the poems, the identity of the poet – the "crazy prophet", the rascal, the renegade – is also being constructed. (…) It is clear that this book represents poetry about poetry in the best sense of the word, and one reading it can hardly ignore author’s literary critic background. That background speaks precisely from the concept of a book, in which writing and reading is inseparable”, another critic will write. 

Čakarević poems appeared in various anthologies and panoramas of contemporary Serbian poetry. He is currently working on his PhD in literature, and as an editor of Poljaliterary and art magazine. He lives in Belgrade.