The award for best literary work published from 1 September 2010 to 1 September 2014 was presented at the Croatian Writers’ Association to the Stuttgart-based poet. The 3,000 Swiss franc prize was awarded for the collection of poems Matches of Faith in the presence of numerous society figures and fans of the belles lettres.
The Friar Lucijan Kordić Prize for best literary work published from 1 September 2010 to 1 September 2014 was presented at a gala ceremony held on 6 October at the Croatian Writers‘ Association to Stuttgart-based poet Malkica Dugeč.
The literary award named after Friar Lucijan Kordić was won this year by poet Malkica Dugeč of Germany. The award is presented by the Croatian Writers’ Association of Zagreb and by ZIRAL (Wounded Swan Publishing Community) of Mostar, with the prize open to competitors every four years. Competing for this prestigious literary award are authors of collections of poetry, novels, collections of short stories, collections of novellas and collections of travelogues which treat, in any manner, the life of Croatians living abroad.
The 3,000 Swiss franc prize was awarded to poet Dugeč for her collection of poems Žigice vjere (Matches of Faith) on 6 October at the Croatian Writers’ Association premises in Zagreb in the presence of numerous society figures and fans of the belles lettres. Poet Dugeč received the monetary prize and commendation from Croatian Writers’ Association president Božidar Petrač, who spoke of Malkica’s idiosyncratic style of versification. On behalf of the three-member panel of judges – also consisting of Božidar Petrač and Đuro Vidmarović – prominent writer and translator Stjepan Šulek spoke of Malkica Dugeč’s poetic oeuvre. Croatian Heritage Foundation director Marin Knezović MSc congratulated the laureate and presented her with a gift to mark the occasion.
Malkica Dugeč (1936) is the most fruitful contemporary Croatian poet living abroad. She was born in Zavidovići, and moved to Croatia with her family as a secondary school pupil. She graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb. She worked as a Croatian language teacher and school principal in schools across Croatia. She was compelled to emigrate in 1972 with her husband Božo Dugeč as a political émigré in the wake of the suppression of the Croatian Spring movement, having earned the wrath of the Communist authorities by founding branches of the Matrix Croatica culture institution across the north-eastern Croatian region of Slavonia. Her emigration finally saw her settle permanently in Stuttgart, where she received asylum in 1975.
She has published some twenty collections of poetry and one book in prose. In collaboration with professor Kazimir Katalinić she edited and released, with publisher Hrvatska republikanska zajednica (the Croatian Republican Community), a collection of speeches and essays penned by her late husband Božo Dugeč titled Nismo spremni robovati (We’re Not Willing To Be Enslaved). Her work has been translated and is to be found in numerous anthologies. She is also a recipient of the Dubravko Horvatić Prize for her series of poems Sebe ne vidiš nikada (You Never See Yourself), and the Antun Branko Šimić literary prize of the Croatian Writers’ Association of Herceg Bosna for her collection U riječ unjedrena (In Words Engulfed). She also writes poetry in German. The many collections of poetry penned by Malkica Dugeč over the past twenty-five years are not the fruit of a late bloomer, but rather the result of the suppression and persecution of a generation of Croatian intellectuals during the Communist crackdown against the 1970’s Croatian Spring movement.
From 1978 she and her (now deceased) husband, publicist Božo Dugeč, promoted the Republika Hrvatska magazine, which earned cult status, at the international book fair in Frankfurt. This leading European book fair provided our courageous exiled intellectuals – faced with the lethal threat of the agents of the former Yugoslav secret service (UDBA), for which Božo Dugeč was a top target – an exhibition stand where the Dugeč couple organised presentations of Croatian émigré writers from all the continents under the moniker “The Words of Emigrant Croatia”. Malkica Dugeč is, then, very much to be thanked for the Croatian literary presence in the world. She is a member of the Croatian Writers’ Association of Zagreb, the Croatian Writers’ Association of Herceg Bosna in Mostar and of the German Croatian Studies Society. She lives and works in Stuttgart.
The award is presented in homage to renowned Croatian writer and theologian Lucijan Kordić (Grljevići near Ljubuško, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 9 June 1914 – Mostar, 16 June 1993), who spent a large portion of his life – thirty-nine years to be precise – in exile. His excellent poetic oeuvre in Croatian was included in homeland anthologies only following the fall of the Berlin Wall. He studied philosophy and theology in Mostar and Slavic studies and Romance studies in Rome. He avoided the horrors of the Bleiburg tragedy in 1945. From 1951 to his return to the homeland in 1990 he worked as a spiritual pastor among Croatian emigrants in Switzerland and as an influential champion of Croatian freedom and independence. He was the founder and a long time editor for publisher ZIRAL (Wounded Swan Publishing Community of Chicago – Zürich – Rome), which, like Nikolić’s émigré publication Hrvatska Revija (Croatian Review), returned to the homeland in the 1990s following a half century of work in the communities abroad. As a publisher ZIRAL first moved to Zagreb and then to Mostar, where it is presently based. Lucijan Kordić was a permanent contributor to Nikolić’s Croatian Review. He published poems, poetic prose, reviews, critiques and literary and theological articles, often under an assumed pen name. Prominent among some dozen collections of poetry are Zemlja (Earth, 1951), Od zemlje do neba (From The Earth to Sky, 1953), Pod arkadama neba (Under the Arcades of the Sky, 1955), Exodus (1964), Probuđene tipke (Keys Awoken, 1984) and his documentary prose Mučeništvo Crkve u Hrvatskoj (The Martyrdom of the Church in Croatia, 1988). He also complied an anthology titled Hrvatska iseljenička lirika (Croatian Emigrant Lyricism, 1974).
In spite of decades of suppression of his work in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was included in prestigious selections of poetry such as academician Ante Stamać’s Antologija hrvatskoga pjesništva (Anthology of Croatian Poetry, Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2007).
The Friar Lucijan Kordić Prize was established on November 2nd, 1994 by a foundation bearing the poet’s name. Laureates to date include academician Nikola Benčić of Austria, Australian-Croatian writer and returnee to Zagreb Drago Šaravanja and Vojvodina writer Tomislav Žigmanov.
Text by: Vesna Kukavica