The Croatian Writers’ Association (Croatian: Društvo hrvatskih književnika DHK) is the official association of Croatian writers, established in 1900 in Zagreb. Today, you can follow their activities on a very active YouTube channel.
The primary task of DHK is to unite writers and help them mutually support each other whilst promoting Croatian literature, protecting their interests, and increasing their reputation.
The Society of Croatian Writers is a voluntary association of writers living and working in the Republic of Croatia and writers living outside the Republic of Croatia whose work belongs to Croatian literature.
The purpose of the Association is outlined through various activities, such as translating Croatian literature to foreign languages, organising international literary manifestations, and participating at international book fairs.
The last quarter of the 19th century was important for Croatian culture. In 1867, the Academy of Sciences and Arts was established.
In the 1870s, the Croatian University, Matica Hrvatska, the Society of Croatian Artists, and the Croatian Pedagogical Literary Association opened their doors. The general public finally could discover and enjoy art.
Matica Hrvatska had a significant role in founding the Croatian Writers’ Association. The oldest Croatian national non-profit institution gave its premises for gathering the people who will work to benefit Croatian literature.
The main initiator was Milivoj Dežman, a literary critic, writer, journalist and physician, and a member of the informal Croatian Writers’ Club that operated within the Society of Croatian Artists.
On March 17 1900, the Government confirmed the rules of the future association, the primary purpose and the four categories of members. The founding assembly was held on 22 April 1900, in the presence of 103 writers.
They elected Ivan Trnski, writer and translator, as the first president. Later, the presidents were Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, Jure Kaštelan, Dobriša Cesarić, among others, and more recently Pero Budak, Nedjeljko Fabrio and Zlatko Krilić. The latter is a Croatian children’s book writer and the current president.
The Association today
To become a Croatian Writers’ Association member, one must be a writer (obviously) who has published at least three books of a high literary value and received serious critical reception.
Today, the Association has more than 520 members and several regional chapters across Croatia. Each chapter supports its authors and engages with the local audience.
For instance, the new rules of the pandemic prompted the chapter in Rijeka to start a new project named Poetry from the Balcony placed on a balcony of the first floor of Filodrammatica, a historical building in Rijeka’s main square. The idea of the project is to read poetry to poetry lovers and passers-by.
The Association includes a series of conversations about literature with Croatian authors called Čit-Lit on their Youtube channel.
The Croatian Writers’ Association publishes several magazines – Most, Republika and Nova Istra. It also has the Small Library of the Croatian Writers’ Association, organises the Zagreb Literary Conversations (Croatian: Zagrebački književni razgovori), and awards several national literary prizes.
All awards are named after the most prominent Croatian writers: the Award of Miroslav Krleža Fund, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski Award, Tin Ujević Award and the Zvane Črnja Award.