Andrijana Kos Lajtman

- Croatia -

Andrijana Kos Lajtman (Čakovec, 1978) is a poet, scholar and a literary critic. She works as a full professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, where she teaches various courses in Croatian and world literature. Her scientific interests are mostly focused on contemporary literature, and she has published about sixty scientific papers in domestic and foreign publications, as well as three academic books: The Autobiographical Discourse of Childhood(2016), The Poetics of Shapes – Contemporary Conceptual and Hypertextual Prose (2016), and The Poetic Tension of Death – From a Scream to Silence (2022).

Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and shortlisted for awards such as the coveted Ivan Goran Kovačić Award or Tin Ujević Award for the poetry book of the year. Poetry collections: Morning Laureate (Jutarnji laureat, 2008), Lunulae (Lunule, 2012), Teleidoscope (Teleidoskop, 2018), Stairs for Stojanka K. (Stepenice za Stojanku K., 2019), Contagious Zone (Zarazna zona, 2021, co-written with Damir Radić), Blue and Brown Book (Plava i smeđa knjiga, 2021). She is a member of the Croatian Writers Society (HDP).

Andrijana Kos Lajtman is active and prolific in all major fields of her work. Her scientific interests are mostly focused on contemporary literature, which she is currently teaching, as a full professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb. She has published five full-length poetry collections, as well as a collaborative poetry book written together with poet and filmmaker Damir Radić. She regularly writes on poetry books, local and in translation, for various Croatian literary magazines and newspapers. Her recent poetry books were published with major publishers, as well as nominated for national awards such as “Ivan Goran Kovačić” for the book of the year and “Tin Ujević” annual poetry prize.

Kos Lajtman’s poems, often narratively based and structured, but also far from avoiding the lyrical, are usually directly and deeply rooted in the palpable context: layers and layers of violent history surrounding us, breeding long-reaching traumas. This historical plinth will regularly be used as a referential point for constructing metaphorical bridges to the present – not just as a costumed setting – as well the intimate. Passing of a close person will, for instance, be paralleled with the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand, which triggered the World War one. The scope of the intimate catastrophe remains unstated, thus making the impact to the reader stronger. Another poem will pair the killing of Che Guevara in the Bolivian jungle with a fatal scene from the Jugoslav wars – one still clearly present within the collective memory, the other purposely forgotten. In the wording of poet and critic Krešimir Bagić: Andrijana Kos Lajtman sheds light on states of weakness, situations that people are afraid of, that they are reluctant to talk about and that they try to avoid. Her verses record traumatic moments and emotions, capture the disappearance while it takes place. These verses emerge in a hospital corridor where patients undergoing chemotherapy are waiting, in a nursing home, they bring together things as pilates and an advanced tumor, the victim and her executioner. The Author’s lyrical politics is deeply humane, non-pragmatic and expressed by means completely natural to poetry.

Underlining the lyrical as a meeting point of the intimate and the social, critic Davor Šalat claims the poet’s poetical profile to be characterized by a combination of condensed expressiveness and virtuoso imagery, penetrating thoughtfulness and restrained, muted intonation. Very intimate themes, a subtle experience of reality and an inner reaction to existential misfortunes and social injustices and crimes find their place in the center of the author’s attention. 

Bringing forward the category of engagement is justified, as well as stressing an ethical concern in the core of it: these verses are not so much aimed at political commentary or a protest as such, as an attempt to voice the inexpressible, or give a stage to the others to speak. The author, according to K. Bagić, focuses on a detail, a moment of suffering or a suffering man; she does not reach for engaged slogans or ideologized essayism. To wrap it up, we’ll help ourselves with an opinion of D. Šalat again: by sophisticated treatment of eternal themes such as, for example, the fragility, transience, endangerment and even the tragedy of universal humane, and above all completely personal existence in a world without transcendent comfort, the impossibility of crossing the boundaries between people and the inadequacy of language as a mean of knowledge and communication, Andrijana Kos Lajtman writes poetry of great artistic capacity, making her one of the most outstanding Croatian poets of the middle generation.