Taking part in this year’s event were Slavica Božičević, Jasminka Domaš, Antonio Sammartino, Lajčo Perušić, Milica Steković, Šimun Šito Ćorić, Tuga Tarle, Zvonimir Šeparović, Ana Schoretits, Đuro Vidmarović, Ivan Ott, Damir Murković and many others.
Eleven years ago, when the first Meeting of Croatian Minority Writers with Writers in Croatia was staged in Rovinj by event initiator the Franjo Glavinić Croatian Culture & Arts Society and its collaborators – the Rovinj chapter of Matrix Croatica and the Pula branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation – they had no idea how well the project would be received and for how long it would run. Now, eleven years later, the writers’ meeting in Rovinj has become a favourite and well-known gathering, not only of writers in the Croatian minority communities abroad, but also for writers from the broader European sphere in which Croatians live and work.
The need for the expansion of the meetings in Rovinj exceed the capacity of the current organising committee in the small town of Rovinj – even with the wholehearted support of Rovinj City Hall. Participants of the event – Đuro Vidmarović, Šimun Šito Ćorić, Sanja Vulić and others – have offered their personal assistance in finding new solutions to upgrade the meetings in Rovinj aimed at enriching them and seeing a collection of works printed. One of the proposals would see national institutions – the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the State Office for Croats Abroad – involved through financial support.
This year’s 11th Meeting of Croatian Minority Writers with Writers in Croatia was staged from October 23rd to 25th. At the gala opening in the large auditorium of the Rovinj Civic Centre the writers were joined by representatives of the City of Rovinj – deputy mayor Marino Budičin, coordinator of the administrative department for social activities Edita Sošić Blažević, City Council president Davorin Flego on behalf of mayor Giovanni Sponza and the head of the Pula branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation Ana Bedrina. Biserka Lukan, representing the State Office For Croats Abroad, joined them the following day. The programme was prepared by Franjo Glavinić Croatian Culture & Arts Society president Branimir Crljenko and the newly elected president of the Rovinj chapter of Matrix Croatica Goran Zgrabljić.
The gathered were welcomed by their host in Rovinj Davorin Flego, who noted that these meetings were a venue through which the numerous idioms of the Croatian language were promoted and a place for the exchange and promotion of the rights and protections of cultural autonomy. He emphasised that the City of Rovinj – where coexistence is part of everyday life – served as an excellent example.
After the singing of the national anthem, performed by the Franjo Glavinić mixed choir, the writers were presented by Sonja Dušić. On hand were Slavica Božičević, a returnee from Sweden; Jasminka Domaš representing the Jewish community of Zagreb; Antonio Sammartino representing the Croatian community of Molise in Italy; Lajčo Perušić, a returnee from Vojvodina and – in the role of event hosts – Tatjana Pokrajac-Papucci; Milica Steković, a Croatian living in Slovenia; Šimun Šito Ćorić representing the Croatian community of Switzerland; Tuga Tarle, a retired diplomat with a wealth of experience from Slovakia, Australia, Spain and Chile; and Ana Šoretić/Schoretits representing the Gradišće Croat community of Austria.
In honour of the hundredth anniversary of the death of writer A. G. Matoš his poetry was read by the inspired Milan Medak and Stjepan Lukavečki. The evening of poetry was followed by the traditional reception party provided for by the office of Rovinj mayor Sponza.
Day two saw a symposium on literature between two homelands that discussed linguistic and cultural interpenetration and standards for the protection of minorities. The gathering opened with an exhibition featuring the work of returnee from Sweden Slavica Božičević. Đuro Vidmarović spoke of the Bunjevac Croatians, Lajčo Perušić about language as the nation’s name, while Jasminka Domaš discussed the national affiliations of minority writers, i.e. “to whom does the minority writer belong”. Ivan Ott spoke of the promotion of Croatian culture and literature in Germany and Antonio Sammartino presented a collection of literary work in the Molise dialect of Croatian titled S našim riči (In Our Words). He was joined by the president of all Molise Croatian associations Antonella D’Antuono, who also serves as a member of the State Office For Croats Abroad advisory board to Croatian Government. Croatians in Italy were also represented by Damir Murković of Trst (Trieste).
Šimun Šito Ćorić discussed the current state of affairs in the Croatian communities abroad, Luka Krilić spoke of the collective memory of our people, while Ana Šoretić/Schoretits spoke of her appearances as a writer in Vulkaprodrštof (Wulkaprodersdorf, Austria), Zagreb, Bjelovar and Rovinj. Tuga Tarle spoke of the Croatian Cemetery in the Heart of Europe, while Zvonimir Šeparović gave a lecture on ethnic minorities and human rights. Day three of the meeting in Rovinj saw the – now traditional – excursion, this year prepared by historian Alojz Štoković, with the participants visiting the town of Plomin with its valuable frescos and Brseć, the birthplace of writer Eugen Kumičić.
Text by: Ana Bedrina; Photos by: Helmut Schoretich