The essays in this collection are inspired by the literary meetings staged in the Gradišće Croatian village of Koljnof. The driving force behind these gatherings and the promoter of this collection is the president of the Croatian Writers’ Association Đuro Vidmarović.
The CHF was the venue on the 22nd of February for the presentation of Svi naši književni susreti I (All Our Literary Meetings Vol. 1), a collection of papers inspired by the literary meetings staged in the Gradišće Croatian village of Koljnof (Kópháza) near the city of Sopron and the border between Austria and Hungary. The driving force behind the meetings in Koljnof and the promoter of this collection is the president of the Croatian Writers’ Association Đuro Vidmarović. These meetings, nine of which have been held to date, pool writers, both of poetry and prose, from Croatia and the Gradišće communities of Hungary and Austria. Dr Franjo Pajrić (Payrits Ferenc), a Gradišće community Croat, poet, hospitality provider and dentist from Koljnof, is chiefly responsible for the organisation and continuity of these events. All Our Literary Meetings Vol. 1 is published by Čakavska katedra Šopron, the Sopron chapter of Matrix Croatica, the Hrvati association and the EMC GRAH Kume association.
In his foreword to the collection Dr Pajrić observes that, “…our physical survival in this region is under threat, and we have failed to find an answer to the wave of assimilation; everything that is created in relation to us remains as a valuable testimony of our existence and cultural activity in this part of Europe. And when this generation passes, what will remain written as our legacy in history was that we gathered once a year and worked together to sustain our Čakavian, Kajkavian and Štokavian dialects.”
Among the eighteen authors featured in the collection are Timea Horvat, a poet and journalist from the Gradišće region village of Petrovo Selo, Enerika Bijač from Koprivnica, writer Božica Brkan, Gradišće region poet, actress and stage director Ana Šoretić, Gradišće region writer Doroteja Zeichman (born Lipković), Croatian Writers’ Association and writer Đuro Vidmarović, poet and researcher Igor Šipić PhD from the Croatian coastal town of Split, poet Tomislav Marijan Bilosnić, poetry and prose writer Marko Grgur from Koprivnica, Gradišće region poet Jurica Čenar, journalist, publicist, travel writer, essayist and poet Nenad Piskač, poet Josip Palada, Gradišće region poet, society figure and judge Dr Herbert Gassner, Međimurje region writer Božidar Glavina, writer Darko Pero Pernjak from Koprivnica, Gradišće region poet and ethnologist Dr Šandor Horvat from Hungary, and musician and poet Nikša Krpetić from Split.
Marin Knezović, the head of our department for Croatian minority communities abroad, was on hand to take the role of event moderator. After introducing the book presenters he gave the floor to CHF director Mijo Marić. Director Marić spoke of the five centuries of challenges and efforts aimed at preserving the Croatian identity, of Croatian culture, traditions and customs in the Gradišće Croat communities and, referring to the need for publications of this kind, observed that, “the Croatian Heritage Foundation is both honoured and delighted to support all those who work to these ends and we will do our best to support them in the future.”
The collection was then presented to the gathered by writer Vidmarović, poet Pajrić and by Darko Pernjak, the president of the Koprivnica chapter of the Croatian Writers’ Association.
Dr Pajrić highlighted that this collection was the fruit of nine years of efforts to document, record and remember; to comment, inspire, reaffirm, preserve and record for posterity the spirit of the language of our people on the Jantarʼs route. “We,” he concluded, “are the guardians of the Croatian language.”
For his part Đuro Vidmarović noted that this collection has, above all, literary significance—the cultural and historical facts are recorded and the transfer of historical memory is preserved.
Darko Pernjak spoke of the enthusiasm of the authors, their meetings, workshops and the interactive stage presentation he describes in the collection.
Also on hand for the gathering were Marta Vargek from the State Office for Croats Abroad, Croatian Writers’ Association board of directors members Željka Lovrenčić PhD and Božica Brkan, and Rešetari Culture and Literary Society president Ivan De Villa, organiser of the Rešetari poetry meetings.
Joining the various associations in support of the publication of this collection was the Croatian embassy to Hungary. The participation of Croatian ambassador to Hungary Mladen Andrlić PhD in the literary meeting at Koljnof was particularly well received by the participants.
The jubilee Koljnof literary gathering, that will once again bring together Croatian writers from Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Croatia, is slated for November of 2018.
By: Naida Šehović; Photography: Snježana Radoš