Tomaž Šalamun
(Slovenia, 1941–2014)   
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Tomaž Šalamun

The Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun is too slippery to be compared to anything; his imaginative procedures belong to his country or its capital only when he wants them to do so. This does not mean that his work is entirely private, although he can be astonishingly personal when the mood takes him. He is, as a poet, supremely clever, but he is also intelligent enough to dampen this cleverness in the name of poetry when he feels like it. His work is elegant and ironic and often surreal and lined with dark laughter, yet it can also be sharp and forbidding. Nothing is lost on him.

Tomaž Šalamun was born in 1941 in Zagreb, but grew up in Koper, a coastal town in Slovenia south of Trieste. In 1966 he graduated in Art History from Ljubljana University. Šalamun, who won the Prešeren Prize in 2000, was the leading figure of the Slovenian poetic avant-garde in the 1960s and in the 1970s. In early 1970s he spent two years at Iowa on the International Writing Programme, and he has lived on and off in the USA since then. In 1996 he became Slovenian Cultural Attaché in New York. He has published 45 volumes of poetry in Slovenian. His work has also been translated into twenty different languages, numbering over 80 volumes, and he has been included in many anthologies. He was a former Fulbright Fellow at the Colombia University in New York and visiting professor at the Universities of Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee. Šalamun has also been in residence at DAAD Berlin, Bogliasco, Cité des Arts Paris, Yaddo and MacDowell.
His natural interest in the absurd, the playful and the irrelevant was greatly aroused by the study of American postwar art and poets such as Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, not to mention Walt Whitman. But he remains a great postwar central European poet, which means that his work is a battle to give equal power to the cheeky voice and the soaring voice, avoiding always the obvious and the prosaically meaningful, making sure that nothing can make poetry happen, and that poetry in turn can become more important than history or politics or mere philosophy.

© Iztok Osojnik

In Slovenian

Poker, samozaložba, Ljubljana, 1966
Namen pelerine, samozaložba (Edicija Oho), Ljubljana, 1968
Romanje za Maruško, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 1971
Amerika, Obzorja, Maribor, 1972
Bela Itaka, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1972
Arena, Lipa, Koper, 1973
Sokol, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1974
Imre, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1975
Turbine, Obzorja, Maribor, 1975
Druidi, Lipa, Koper, 1975
Praznik, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 1976
Zvezde, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1977
Metoda angela, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1978
Po sledeh divjadi, Lipa, Koper, 1979
Zgodovina svetlobe je oranžna, Obzorja, Maribor, 1979
Maske, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1980
Balada za Metko Krašovec, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1981
Analogije svetlobe, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 1982
Glas, Obzorja, Maribor, 1983
Sonet o mleku, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1984
Soy realidad, Lipa, Koper, 1985
Ljubljanska pomlad, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1986
Mera časa, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 1987
Živa rana, živi sok, Obzorja, Maribor, 1988
Otrok in jelen, Wieser, Celovec/Salzburg, 1990
Hiša Markova, Aleph, Ljubljana, 1992
Glagoli sonca: izbrane pesmi, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1993
Ambra, Mihelač, Ljubljana, 1995
Črni labod, Mihelač, Ljubljana, 1997
Knjiga za mojega brata, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1997
Morje, Nova revija, Ljubljana, 1999
Amerika, Mondena, Grosuplje, 2000
Zelen ogenj, zelen cvet, / Fuoco verde, fiore verde, Lipa, Koper, 2000
Table, Litera, Maribor, 2002
Od tam, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 2003
Z Arhilohom po Kikladih, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 2004
Kaj je kaj, Didakta, Radovljica, 2005
Sončni voz, Študentska založba Beletrina, Ljubljana, 2005
Sinji stolp, Študentska založba Beletrina, Ljubljana, 2007
Njanja me od nikoder obišče kot riba, Hyperion, Koper, 2008
Levu sem zribal glavo do pol gobca, potem sem nehal, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 2009
Mrzle pravljice, Nova revija, Ljubljana, 2009
Ko vdre senca / When the shadow breaks / Quand l’ombre force, Litterae Slovenicae (Društvo pisateljev Slovenije), Ljubljana, 2010
Letni čas, LUD Literatura, Ljubljana, 2010
Selected works in translation
In English
The Selected Poems of Tomaž Šalamun (translated by Elliot Anderson, Anselm Hollo, Deborah Kohloss, Sonja Kravanja, Veno Taufer and Michael Waltuch; introduction by Robert Hass), Ecco (Modern European Poetry Series), New York, 1988
The Four Questions of Melancholy: New and Selected Poems (translated by Christopher Merrill), White Pine Press, New York, 1997 (reprinted 1999, 2002 and 2007)
The Book for My Brother (translated by Anselm Hollo, Christopher Merrill, Matthew Rohrer, Phillis Levin, Peter Richards, Ana Jelnikar, Joshua Beckman, Elliott Anderson, Marko Jakše and Andrew Wachtel), Harcourt, Orlando, 2006
Woods and Chalices (translated by the author and Brian Henry) Harcourt, Orlando, 2008
In Flemish
Alleen in jou heb ik gegorgeld van geluk (translated by Raymond Detrez), Plantage, Leiden, 1995


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