Bekim Sejranović was born in 1972 in Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina. When he was 13 years old he moved to Rijeka, Croatia, where he visited Maritime Secondary School and started to study literature at the University of Rijeka. In 1992 due to the war situation and discriminatory nationalistic politics in the Balkans he moved to Norway. Bekim holds a MA in South-Slavic literature from the University of Oslo, where he was also teaching South-Slavic literature and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language. He is the author of the collection of short stories Fasung/The Beating (2002) and two novels Nigdje, niotkuda/Nowhere, from Nowhere (2008) and Ljepši kraj/More Beautiful Ending (2010), all in Croatian. Bekim is also active as a translator of Norwegian authors to Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.
His Nigdje, niotkuda/Nowhere, from Nowhere won “Meša Selimović” prize for the best novel published in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro in 2008. Bekim is a member of Norwegian Writers Association, however he writes in Bosnian/Croatian language.
When reading the prose of the Bosnian-Croatian-Norwegian author Bekim Sejranović it comes inevitably to one’s mind that the real homeland of a writer is his/her language. His work could be placed somewhere between war-, exile-, autobiographical prose and even beat literature.
The experience of childhood in a small Bosnian town in the times of the socialist Yugoslavia, troubled relationship with parents, passionate relationship between grandparents, teenager years and secondary school in a small industrial village at the Adriatic see, becoming a ‘national alien’ in the war years in Croatia and subsequent exile to Norway. Trying to get a toehold in Norway, lowliness, drugs, ambivalence in loving oneself and others, constant nomadism (in plot as well as narrative sense) between old and new homeland, only stops but no base.
Sejranović is a great observer and an unpretentious narrator. In Ljubljana he will be reading from his latest novel Ljepši kraj/More Beatiful Ending: “There is no hugging and kissing like in the Balkans. There you have to kiss even the people you see every other day. With girls I could somehow put up with it, but with men it really got on my nerves. The worst for me are the ones who take offence if, by their judgment, you didn’t kiss them passionately enough. And then you also have to be careful about which people you should kiss two times or three times, and there were also those who were sensitive about which cheek you kissed first. Just because of this kissing, I lost a few people who I had thought could become real friends.”
Elizabeta Bakovska was born in 1969 in Bitola, Macedonia. She graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature from the Faculty of Philology at St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia and received her MA from the same Faculty. She has published two books of poetry: Житие на нашата љубов/Biography of Our Love (2003) and Состојби на духот и телото по триесеттата/Conditions of Body and Mind after You Turn Thirty (2005); one collection of short stories: Четири годишни времиња/Four Seasons (2004) and a novel: На пат кон Дамаск/On the Way to Damascus (2006). She is Editor for poetry in Blesok/Shine the first on-line magazine for literature and arts, published bimonthly in Macedonian and English in Central and Eastern Europe.
Elizabeta has also written essays and literary critiques. Her poetry has been included in several anthologies and published in Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian and English. In 2010 she won the first prize at the 60th annual most distinguished national short story competition in Macedonia, organised by Nova Makedonija daily. Currently she is working on her PhD on Macedonian women writers with Euro Balkan Institute in Skopje.
“Is poetry just an opposite of routine? Is it demagogy? Is it an illusion or the meaning of the existence? These are the questions Elizabeta Bakovska … is trying to answer in her exceptional poems. Her writing reflects her intimate world. It is full of love, passion, silence, loneliness, relationships, expectations, tears and yearning for youth; but on the other hand, she raises her voice against mediocrity, ideologies, the vulnerability of a person against the general public, and the compromises one has to make in life. Bakovska’s words are so effortless, but yet so touching and personal and, still, a meeting point for the larger collective.” (Ana Martinoska in the foreword to Six Macedonian Poets, ed. Igor Isakovski, Arc Publications, Todmorden 2011).
The poetry of Elizabeta Bakovska is “shaped with an almost simple poetic speech, which does not wander into naïve amateurism, but rather rises to the mastery achievements of the universal poetry words… Her poetics, free of the imposed pathetic, is quite her own, despite the universal themes (as well as in her prose): love, fatherland, but here, with a specific expressive procedure, quite rare in Macedonian poetry, far from the general unnatural Macedonian abstractionism, and strictly controlled when it comes to (dangerous) sentimentalism; however, it is engaged in a precise dosage when it comes to the treatment of the Macedonian historical irony by ourselves and the others…” (Pasko Kuzman)
In Ljubljana Elizabeta will be mostly reading from the recently published anthology Six Macedonian Poets.
Jeton Neziraj (1977, Kaçanik, Kosovo) is a playwright and the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Kosovo, Prishtina (www.teatrikombetar.eu). He has written over fifteen plays, which have been staged and presented in Kosovo and abroad – in Europe and the USA. His plays have also been published and translated into several languages (German, English, French, Spanish, Romanian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Serbian etc.). His play Liza po fle/Liza is Sleeping won First Prize at the national drama contest “Buzuku”.
Neziraj is also the author of several film scripts, which have been filmed by Kosovar directors; and dozens of essays on theatre, which have been published in local and international newspapers and magazines. He is also the author of several books, including a book on the famous Kosovar actor Faruk Begolli. Jeton Neziraj is the founder and leader of the NGO Multimedia Centre (www.qendra.org), focusing on contemporary theatre.
The topics of Neziraj’s plays, which are belonging somewhere between genres of drama and tragicomedy, are very broad. They are ranging from war, survival in post-war times, reconciliation, sin, love, religion, contemporary terrorism etc.
“As Jeton Neziraj is an author with special contrapuntal sensitivity it doesn’t come as a surprise that in the most of his works he is playing with the mosaic model of drama. In his works, past and present, not unlike a fairytale, merge together, they mix, clash, embrace or intensify each other. Even when motifs, sketches or elements of folk stories and legends are taken as a structural principle, this ‘fairy-talness’ stays due to Neziraj’s creative skills and elegance as well as due to the usage of kontrapunkt – relocation of time and space, in tune and orchestrated with a spirit of urban poetic musicality. In his dramas we meet in front of a black&white background women who make love with and get marry to a snake, as well as women mudlarks or women burned by passion who pull hairs from bottoms in beauty salons, parents who eat their children, young men who kill the dragon, monks who fall in love with married women, girls who fall into caves, war veterans who play with weapons as if they are chess pieces, burned lovers or ‘maniacs’ who on the streets, boulevards and in parks of Paris take off veils from Muslim women, Talibans who in vengeance spectacularly demolish the Eiffel tower, women who are scared to death by breast cancer etc.” (Bekim Lumi, Iz Prištine, s ljubavlju/From Prishtina With Love, Anthology of New Kosovo Literature, Belgrade 2011)
In Ljubljana Jeton will be reading from two of his plays: Shembja e Kullës së Ajfelit/ The Demolition of the Eiffel Tower, which has been staged in 2010 by Fabrique Ephéméride (Paris, France) and from Hipermarketi patriotik/Patriotic Hypermarket.
Olja Savičević Ivančević, a freelance writer, poetess and columnist, was born 1974 in Split, Croatia where she also lives and works. She holds BA in Croatian language and literature from the University of Zadar, Croatia. Since her teenage years Olja has published several collections of poems Bit će strašno kada ja porastem/It will be tremendous when I grow up (1988), Vječna djeca/Eternal Kids (1993), Žensko pismo/Female manuscripts (1999), and Kućna pravila/House rules (2007, 2009) which won a “Kiklop” prize in Croatia.
For her collection of short fiction Nasmijati psa/To Make a Dog Laugh/Augustschnee (2006) Olja has been awarded with the Croatian prize “Vijenac” for the best new prose work of 2006 and 2007, and the “Ranko Marinković” short-story prize. Several of the stories have also been made into short films. With her novel Adio kauboju/Adios Cowboy/Lebt wohl, Cowboy (2010) which plays with the genre of spaghetti western and is a merciless portrait of today’s corrupted social reality in Croatia Olja won the “firstname.lastname@example.org” award for the best novel as well as the “Jure Kaštelan” award by the newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija. Olja’s work has been included in a number of anthologies and selections, and her writing has been translated into German, Czech, Italian, Slovenian, French, English, Slovak, Macedonian, Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Zulu language.
Croatian contemporary literary landscape is very fruitful, creative and full of aesthetic surpluses. In addition, there are also several socially and politically engaged (women) authors who are mercilessly attacking nationalism, war crimes, historical amnesia, chauvinism, and corruption in spite of making themselves, by doing that, a black sheep or even worse. Olja Savičević Ivančević doubtlessly belongs to a group of the best Croatian contemporary authors of younger generation. Her narrative style, vocabulary, plot structuring, construction of figures and types, basically all aspects of her literary expertise has been praised by acclaimed critics in Croatia, Serbia, Germany and elsewhere.
Olja is seen as a representative of the so called ‘lost generation’ writing for the ‘lost generation’: “Ever since we became conscious beings we’ve been waiting for some kind of a normal life, but it hasn’t arrived yet. In the meantime we’ve had some good times and some fun times, and of course we partied, fell in love, travelled, read and listened to good music, but we have never lived in a normal and more or less well-ordered society.” (Olja Savičević Ivančević)
In Ljubljana Olja will be reading from her novel Adio kauboju/Adios Cowboy/Lebt wohl, Cowboy.
At the Cross Border Experience Literary Reading Eric Dean Scott – an actor, writer, poet and director from New York City, USA – will be reading the English translations of the invited writers.
Eric is trained at the Experimental Theatre “Wing” at New York University. Since 1991, he has been making theatre in the downtown New York experimental theatre scene and has been a founding/associate member of a number of theatre groups and has worked with numerous “Obie-award” winning theatre-makers there. Since 2009, he has been living and working in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he performs his original works, directs plays and holds actor training workshops in physical acting, games and “Viewpoints” improvisation.