“Although this is the author’s debut work, the Notes from the Fingertips collection of poetry presents us with Sanja Percela as a mature poet, an artist whose words emerge from deeply experienced emotions, especially in some of the individual thematic sections in the collection. In the first the core theme is of the solitude of contemporary man, further enforced by the fact that this poet lives far from her homeland, in the Netherlands. Percela is always and foremost a poet of the inner man, who speaks sincerely of topics not always readily given to the pen. She bravely testifies to the fact that starting a new text is not always easy. Although not all of the poems in this first collection are equal in their poetic merit, the ease with which she, in her poetic miniatures, moves from clearly expressed visual images to the sphere of emotions, recognisable and near to the sensual reader, is impressive. The second collection, A Matter of Good Guideposts, clearly testifies to the fact that the first collection was not the product of a fluke or isolated inspiration. The second collection also features poems of universal themes – many of them are also strongly imbued with the life of contemporary Amsterdam … the verse of these two collections emerged without a lot of hoopla. They lead the reader along a route of words and emotions that are really worth travelling together with the poet Percela,” concludes Vulić.
Two collections of poetry were presented at the CHF – Notes from the Fingertips and A Matter of Good Guideposts. The first was published by the Pannonian Institute of Pinkovac (2011) and the second in this year by the Vukovar chapter of Matrix Croatica.
Two collections of poetry were presented at the Croatian Heritage Foundation on October 22nd – Notes from the Fingertips (Zapisi s jagodica prstiju) and A Matter of Good Guideposts (Stvar dobrih putokaza) by Sanja Percela from the Netherlands. The first was published by the Pannonian Institute of Pinkovac (Güttenbach) (2011) and the second in this year by the Vukovar chapter of Matrix Croatica.
Sanja Percela (1961), a native of Zagreb, graduated mathematics at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Science. Upon her graduation she moved in 1994 to Amsterdam to study linguistic philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. She publishes her poetry in the Dutch language in the literary magazines De Tweede Ronde, Poëziekrant and Krakatau, and in Croatian for the literary magazine Poezija. At the national poetry competition organised by the Turing foundation (De Turing Nationale Gedichtenwedstrijd) for 2010, one of her poems was included in the Dansen op de maat van het ogenblik (Dancing to the Beat of the Moment) collection. She has appeared at numerous poetry events in the Netherlands, including the Het Festival Mooie Woorden (Festival of Beautiful Words) in Utrecht and at the Haarlemse dichtlijn (Poetry Line in Haarlem). In the Croatian language she publishes poetry in the literary magazine Poezija. She lives in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, where she works as a translator.
On hand to speak of Percela’s books were Marin Knezović MSc, the director of the CHF, the book’s reviewer Sanja Vulić DSc and the author. The promotion was moderated, expertly and confidently as always, by the head of the CHF publishing department Vesna Kukavica.
The director welcomed the gathered poetry enthusiasts, representatives of the State Office for Croats Abroad, CHF associates and the author’s friends from Zagreb.
“Normally, when we find ourselves in this auditorium and when presenting the literary work of Croatians living abroad we discover books – prose and poetry – deeply rooted in Croatian traditional culture. That is why it is a particular pleasure for me on this occasion, presenting the books of Sanja Percela, that we are departing from this customary practice. In the place of pathos for a time past we find here, in the author’s books, the depiction of an urban, contemporary quotidian. Brief and unpretentious, these poems do not hide from the modern world, rather they easily, and without prejudice, face it. Do we have any other choice? It would be a good thing for other writers in the Diaspora to consider this,” Knezović said.
The reviewer, Sanja Vulić, presented a number of interesting and expert observations.
Addressing the gathered the author first thanked all those who made it possible for her work to see the light of day, friends and the organisers of the promotion. She read three of her poems and shared some of the interesting details of her life in the Netherlands with the audience. The friendship and support of Sarajevo writer Faruk Šehić, who penned the excellent review of her second collection, she noted, meant a great deal to her.
Read Percela’s poetry
In his review of A Matter of Good Guideposts Faruk Šehić observes:
“The poems of Sanja Percela, miniature in expression and form, are scenes taken by an invisible photo or moving picture camera through which the poet records her own intimate worlds. Her poetry is a love/erotic image of intimate life, but not only that – Percela through the optics of her fragile words also describes a spiritual world destroyed by war in her poems about Sarajevo. In these poems the destroyed reality is placed in the context of male-female relations, through which, with the aid of subtle metaphors, the war-shattered reality of Sarajevo or any other city is presented: Returning home after a long time / you are as anonymous as the streets / whose name they forgot to change / after the war. This is how things go in the political-love poem Povratak (The Return). It could, perhaps, be said that the fundamental characteristic of Percela’s poetry is a tendency towards concise poetic forms, in which a quiet and imperceptible cosmos is celebrated, one that occurs in the space between two lovers, and within them, where nanometric emotional star wars take place. This poetry, of course, does not end only with the cited motifs, because Percela in her visual and film paragons finds material for fine poetic treatment and dedication, all in the form of quotations and allusions, that are naturally and organically woven into the fabric of the poem itself. If there was a photographic poetry (irrespective of the possible illegibility of the syntagma), this poetry could be its inventive branch, capable of taking us into a melancholic world, one in which words can (like living beings) stand in the air – all the words and sighs of an amorous relationship, whereby this poetry is a reconstruction of sorts of the mild sorrow that marks the beginning and end of every love affair. Perhaps the celebration of life is the best definition of Percela’s poetry – the life that, placing an Ungaretti verse on its head, could be referred to as the necklace of daily melancholy.”
Text by: Diana Šimurin-Šoufek; Photos by: Snježana Radoš