Monika Herceg

- Croatia -

Monika Herceg was born in 1990 in Sisak, Croatia. She studies physics at the University of Rijeka. She won the second prize at the International Poetry Competition Castello di Duino in 2016, and in 2017, her then unpublished volume Početne koordinate(Initial Coordinates) won the Croatian poetry debut prize Goran for Young Poets. The book was published in 2018 to the critical acclaim, and has recently won the Kvirin Award and Fran Galović award. The mentioned award-list makes Herceg’s debut one of the most decorated volumes of the recent Croatian lyric. Her second book took off with a prize too: the manuscript won the “Na vrh jezika” award for best unpublished poetry volume in 2018 and is slated for release in 2019. Monika Herceg lives and writes in Zagreb, Croatia. 

Monika Herceg, born in 1990 in Sisak, belongs to the youngest generation of Croatian poets. For her first manuscript Početne koordinate(Initial coordinates) she was awarded with “Goran for young poets award”, the most renowned Croatian newcomer prize. As the book of the same title appeared in 2018 to a critical acclaim, it received “Kvirin” annual award, as well as “Fran Galović” prize, for the best book dealing with regional and/or identity issues.  

The Initial coordinatesare a poetry book far more than a collection of poems. In relaxed and “down to earth”, but at the same time very sharp and precise manner, these mostly short, edgy poems depict an unusual coming of age. Set in rural scenery, where the time as if had stopped a long time ago, they deliver thick, neatly woven net of symbols and archetypes, that bring the local and the universal together in sparkling, inseparable and sometimes sinister brew.  However, the war that lurks between the verses is not just any, and the chronotope of this book is not only lyrically timeless: the very own earliest childhood memories anchor it firmly in 1990’es Croatia. Death spreads its wings upon this yet to be formed world: the title of every of the four cycles brings various animals – snakes, cats, birds and rabbits – to the very edge of existence. 

“Monika Herceg builds her poems almost with mathematical precision, depicts metamorphoses in nature, and changes in man's life. Smooth images of childhood and fragrance of autumn are mixed with scenes of death or corrosion, roars, bites, and dents. As if these impressive analogies entwine the microcosm and the macro-scale through the images of the fall and the end”, the peers of “Kvirin” award have noted. 

The poetics of Monika Herceg could be labeled as a sort of poetic magic realism, the magma which mixes metaphysical with the physical, the subjective, within which people live in a special ecosystem beyond time, resembling wild beasts rushing out of the well known order of the things. 

Further on, the jury of Galović prize claims that, “in any case, Monika Herceg in this collection in a completely innovative, fashionable and linguistically and stylishly unrepeatable, yet at the same time communicative manner approaches to the old themes of indigenousness and childhood; the traditional and the rural, enriches them with a new, fresh framing.” 

The author is student of physics, and her background in natural sciences – rather uncommon when speaking on Croatian poets – was the trigger of her second, soon to be published manuscript, already awarded with “Na vrh jezika” best poetry manuscript prize.  

“In the second manuscript I write about women scientists, who are often marginalized; experiences like motherhood, in which I’ve just enrolled, trying to link different stories and sides of female experience, to speak louder about violence against women”, the poet will say in an interview. 

Wrapping up the commons between poetry and science, the author claims: “It’s primarily about beauty. Both of them have something a lot bigger than us, and that sacred moment of understanding both microcosm and macro-sphere is equivalent to a way in which wonderful poetry enriches man. After all, these are two windows, one to the understanding of the outside world, and the other to understanding oneself, regardless is that about reading or writing poetry, because the text always enriches and opens the man to different places.”

Monika lives, writes and raises two youngsters in Zagreb, Croatia.