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Janko Polić Kamov

Janko Polić Kamov (Sušak, 1886 – Barcelona, 1910), in his short and intense life, has gained the cult status of apocalyptical poet and the irst Croatian poet of asphalt streets. He was born in a wealthy and freedom-loving Croatian family. Although his parents spoke Italian, it was in Croatian spirit that they raised their children who spoke Croatian Fiuman idiom. he rich family library contained works by classical authors, Italian revolutionaries and all available works in Croatian language. Under the pseudonym Moimir Trsatski, young Kamov published his irst works in the family magazine Soko (he Hawk), a periodical for amusement and instruction with which brothers Milutin, Janko and Nikola used to amuse the whole
family. He attended the gymnasium at Sušak, an old Croatian gymnasium that only a year before his attendance had been relocated to Sušak for political reasons. With his friends and peers Mijo Radošević and Josip Baričević, Kamov founded the secret society Cefas that was at the same time a revolutionary club, literary-political society and anarchist organisation.They aimed to get help from Janko’s father and establish contacts with Croats in the USA who would provide the inancialsupport for arms they would use to organise an insurrection and turn the whole Croatia into a revolutionary chaos with
dynamite and bombs. Always sensitive to hypocrisy, Polić used to verbally confront his teachers and inally he wasexpelled from the school. He continued his education in the gymnasium in Senj where he stayed at the ultraconservative catholic dormitory. After ive months he was expelled again and after that the whole family moved to Zagreb. Kamov tried to continue his education. He read Kranjčević, smoked publicly in
the streets, drank in pubs, visited brothels and generally disgusted the bigoted bourgeoisie. Finally he abandoned his education for good and because of his clashing with police at the demonstration against the Hungarian governor in Croatia, Khuen-Héderváry, he was sentenced to three months in prison. He ran away from home and joined a travelling theatre company. hat was the beginning of his travels and his chronic illness. In this period he also wrote his irst works and with inancial help of his brother Vladimir he published two books of collected poems, Psovka (he Curse) and Ištipana hartija (he Pinched Paper), as well as two dramatic studies, Tragedija mozgova (he Tragedy of Brains) and Na rodnoj grudi (On the Native Soil). At that time he named himself Kamov, after Kam from the Old Testament, who was cursed by his father Noah because he witnessed his nakedness. he name Kamov symbolised his literary program. he social satire, sarcasm, eroticism and vehement wrath against false morality in his works shocked the public, but also sufered negative critique from the Croatian poet A. G. Matoš. Kamov continued to travel and
write travelogues that were published with success in various newspapers. In 1910 he went to Barcelona, where soon after he got ill and died in the hospital for the poor and needy where today the
Catalan National Library is situated. He was buried nameless in the common grave. His inal text, the article Klin se klinom nabija (One Nail Drives Another), was published in the Zagreb newspaper Pokret (he Movement) on the day Kamov died. He remains remembered as  “the most terrifying Croatian poet” and  “the knight of the black curse”.

 

1907
1900-1909