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Writing in residency

«Have you also written anything?»

Patric Marino

Patric Marino
Patric Marino (born 1989) is a Swiss author.

His multiple award winning novella «Nonno spricht» (grandfather is speaking), published by Lokwort in 2012, is a declaration of love to his grandparents and to Southern Italian culture. Musician Oli Kuster and he together make up the duo «Die Astronauten», where his Bernese dialect texts and Kuster’s electronic music merge to a lyrical, floating whole. He writes reports from the south for renowned papers (NZZ am Sonntag, Das Magazin, Transhelvetica) and dances to iambic and dactylic rhythms with his students.

Further information at literaturbuero.ch and dieastronauten.ch.

Residency

Patric Marino’s residency in Split was enabled by the Writer in Residence Programmes in Southeast Europe.

Supported by Traduki the European network for translation, literature and books that links up German-speaking and Southeast European countries, it offers residencies in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.

Patric Marino in Split (Croatia), August 2016

In the summer of 2016, I spent one month as a writer in residence in Split, Croatia, yet the impression remains that I could just as well have gone to Rimini to write in peace and become acquainted with a new culture. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the experience, the encounters and the stories I’ve taken along from Split, some of which I would like to share here.

The residency apartment is in the old town of Split, which is more or less taken over by tourists in the month of August. This was something of a shock for me at the beginning, so I would wait until evening before setting out on long walks of discovery. It took me several days to settle down and find the inner calm for reading and writing. Living without a fixed daily structure in an unfamiliar place, I needed to develop strict rituals and routines for myself. So every morning, I would go for coffee to the same bar, buy vegetables and fruit at the local market and have something to eat at Burek’s bakery nearby. Communication took place in a mix of English, Italian and Croatian, and for one month the bar tender and the market traders were my best friends. My insights into Croatian culture were gained by spending time in Marjan park, attending the home games of the popular local football club Hajduk Split, and taking trips by bus into the surroundings.


When I met Edi Matić, my host, and told him about the market, the football and the sea, he asked, «Have you also written anything, or did you just go to the beach?» At that point, I was able to tell him about the diary with my observations, the Croatian nursery rhyme that went with the crab I drew at a beach bar, as well as the poems and the short stories. One of the stories tells about a sense of familiarity with everything in Croatia coming from holidays spent in Italy, upended by a feeling of strangeness and lack of understanding – there must be some kind of mistake. [Text in German]

I wrote mostly short texts, as the four weeks passed much too quickly for me to embark on a larger project. For our electro-poetry duo «Die Astronauten» I penned lyrics in Bernese dialect that I am now arranging for music together with Oli Kuster. The piece even has a Croatian title, «Teško li je», and I’m still working on the pronunciation of the one verse in Croatian.

Besides completed projects and those still in draft stage, I came back with numerous impressions, stories and encounters that have not, or not yet, been put into text form. On my last evening in Split I was invited to a reading, with Marijo Glavaš as moderator and translator. Croatian author Katja Grcić read poems and also one of my texts in Croatian. The discussions with them, the readings in Bernese German and in Croatian, and the interest shown by the audience added up to a great experience. It made me wish I had met these people at the beginning of my residency.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Pro Helvetia for enabling the residency, the traduki network for creating the contacts, Maja Vrančić and Edi Matić for the on-sight guidance and Dragica Rajčić for the Croatian hospitality she offered.

Text by Patric Marino, October 2016