Goran Čolakhodžić

- Croatia -

Goran Čolakhodžić (Zagreb, 1990) is a poet and translator. He holds MA degrees in English and in Romanian. In 2015, his then-unpublished volume Na kraju taj vrt (In the End the Garden) won the Croatian poetry debut prize “Goran for Young Poets”. The book was published later that year and in 2017 it won the international “Bridges of Struga” award for best poetry debut, awarded by the “Struga Poetry Evenings” festival in Macedonia. His poems have appeared in a number of magazines in Croatia and abroad and have been translated into a number of languages. He is assistant editor of the Croatian BEK (Free Electronic Books) Internet library and a member of the organising committee of the Croatian “Goranovo proljeće” (Goran’s Spring) poetry festival. 

Although he has been writing poetry and prose since the age of fourteen, he had never published anything till 2015 when he won Goran for Young Poets award – the most important Croatian award for young poets awarded to the best manuscript of an unpublished author under the age of thirty. Since then, his work has been published in Croatian and regional periodicals as he was acknowledged as one of the most interesting and distinctive new lyrical voices. Within Petrarca Fest, he was awarded for the best sonnet written in Croatian.

His future projects at the moment entail: Commission for a poem from the Herefordshire-based theatre group Feral, for Ledbury Poetry Festival 2017; translations of Croatian and Serbian poets into Romanian and vice versa (periodicals, printed volumes); an anthology of Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian war prose (with other collaborators) translated into Romanian; an anthology of contemporary Croatian poetry (with other collaborators) finally to be published in Bucharest in January 2017.

The award-winning manuscript, the book Na kraju taj vrt [That Garden at the End] continues to enthral the audience as well as the critics. During 2017 this book will be published in electronic form. The latter wrote about the book:

Goran Čolakhodžić's poetry collection Na kraju taj vrt is successful in its construction of a subject as the protagonist of a lyrical narrative and of the places where events take place – the garden, orchard, forest and the city – which are consistently developed following a carefully designed concept. These scenes intermingle and intertwine in various ways in time and space and in the poet's (sub)conscious; they simultaneously supress each other and co-exist, often at the expense of the other. The lyrical subject made from hard clay taken from the garden itself, is much more than a mere witness or an observer of the world; the garden is the subject's true personification and metaphor, his mental state and a dream-like hallucination.

Morning and twilight images and moods – usually set in September – open spaces and distant mystical horizons are predominant in Čolakhodžić's poetry, so it is not surprising that he references the works of a brilliant Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich in the subheadings of his poem “Zreli krajolici” [Ripe Landscapes]. His obsessions include themes of life and death, the transience of time, the ephemerality of things and nature, as well as their renewal and return to their lost origins. Aware that only love can overcome (or at least delay) death, Čolakhodžić does a Freudian twist in the understanding of Eros and Thanatos and, as a true master of intertwining, he continuously elevates them to the same thematic and existential plane by perceiving them as inseparable realities of life and affirming them yet again in the most unexpected situations. In one of his other poems he says: everyone choses one’s own trigger of melancholy. These triggers are for him small, everyday objects and events, tiny signs of the passing of time and seasons which he metaphorizes thus turning minuscule life events into a poetic inspiration and semantic nodes from which other motifs branch out.

Čolakhodžić's poetry is conceptually well-rounded and coherent which, with its thematic preoccupations, as well as stylistic and formal solutions, provides a true aesthetic pleasure making him a worthy successor in the line of young poets who won the Goran award.