Literature of Slovak writers in Vojvodina

Slovak literature in Vojvodina has a more than two-hundred-year-long tradition. Together with world-known naive fine arts (in Kovačica) and a long-term literary tradition (in Bački Petrovac and Stara Pazova) they represent a creative contribution of this area to our cultural history.
Works of writers living in Lower Land (Dolná Zem), were until 1918 a natural part of the Slovak literary context. In the interwar period, when Slovak writers from Lower Land happened to live in different state formations, this literature went away from our horizon. But it was this period when the foundations for current poetry of Vojvodina Slovaks were laid – through the emergence of two modernistic writers – Juraj Mucaj and Palo Bohus. They entered poetry at the beginning of a new century in the time of “weapons clinking”, , aggression and fear to show an outcry of disapproval with the events, as an expression of life-weariness, at a time when the only way out was “the escape into the death”. The first writings of both writers resembled the poetics of post-symbolism, both brought strong anti-war poems, during the Second World War they issued debut poetry books and during the war period they both wrote a collection of poetry which was preserved in a handwritten form. Juraj Mucaj was not blessed by his destiny to continue in his creative work and maturation. He died young on the Eastern Front line. Palo Bohus, after a longer enforced break spent in prison almost thirty years after his poetry debut, triumphantly returned to poetry with a book selection from older and new poems – Predsa koľaj (Really the track) (1971). He became a prominent Slovak poet in Lower Land in the 1960s and remained so for four decades. (Harpan, M., 2008, p. 176 – 178).
In the fifties of the last century a generation of young writers started to be shaped including Jan Labath, Michal Babinka and Andrej Ferko. They entered literature with a common collection of poetry bearing a significant name Do nových dní (Into new days) (1950). According to Michal Harpan (2008, p. 176) this collection was the only expression of poetry that was called Social Realism in Czechoslovakia and in other countries of the Eastern Block. As early as the second half of the 1950s young writers- Jan Labath and Michal Babinka – made an attempt to modernise and individualise the poetic expression.
Even before their emergence Andrej Ferko’s collection Okovaná krv (Shackled blood) (1945) was published which is from a typological and cognitive point of view a succession of Mucaj’s and Bohus’s antiwar and revolt poems. The later creation of J. Labath and M. Babinka outgrew the “minority” literary context, particularly those segments which are in the typological range of local colouring. It is possible to identify echoes of the typology of interwar Poetism in the works of J. Labath and the typology of “Over-Realism” in the works of M. Babinka. In the background of quarrels between modernist and traditional authors M. Harpan classifies both authors as modernist writers.
The last decade of the last century was a sensational season for the poetry of Vojvodina Slovaks. The authors freed themselves from the ideological ballast and tried to create their own poetics in the context of latest trends in major Serbian poetry and events moving the world. This advantage – to be different from writers who had to compete with the oppressions of the ideological comprehension of aesthetics in Slovakia – was best taken by Viera Benkova, Vitazoslav Hronec and Jozef Klatik who were able to enrich the already-mentioned difference by their own individual and typical contribution.
Lyric Pansensualism and the Impressionism of Labath’s first creative period might have been followed in a later period by Juraj Tusiak, Viera Benkova and partly also Vitazoslav Hronec. The modifications in associations and the unconventional metaphors of M. Babinka can be identified in a later poetic development by Vitazoslav Hronec who made a distinctive use of them, and later in the works of Zlatko Benka (Harpan, M., 2008, p. 177).
In 1970s we can find in Vojvodina a typologically stratified poetry – seven writers and seven typologically and considerably different versions of the immanent poetics with a distinctive poetic contribution by Palo Bohus.
More poets emerged on the literary platform in this period who also contributed to the typological differentiation of Slovak Lower Land poetry in Vojvodina. Firstly there were the poems with the intimate and emotional confessions of Miroslav Demak, then the reflexive poems by Michal Duga who concentrated more on contemplations on moods than on depicting moods, associative text-and-structure-forming principles in the poetry of Miroslav Dudok and the original texts of the artist Jozef Klatik.
This generation was followed by younger poets. Three of them recently belong to the distinctive poetic personalities with the common poetic feeling of “rejection” – Martin Prebudila, Ladislav Cani and Katarina Hricova. L. Cani‘s collection of poems Zánik chrámu (The Decline of the church) (1997) is, according to criticism, “one of the masterpieces of Slovak Lower Land poetry”.
Collections of poems by Jan Salcak, Jaroslav Ciep a Miroslav Krupinsky appeared in the 1980s. The context of Lower Land poetry was still more and more influenced by the poetic expression of Miroslava Dudkova.
An important organic part of the literary creation of Slovaks in Vojvodina is represented by local literary science, particularly by literary theory and criticism, which thank to its distinctive attitudes and ideas, in many cases considerably contributed to the whole Slovak literary science at a high professional level. This concern mainly the works of Michal Harpan, Vitazoslav Hronec and others.