Monday, March 22, 2010

Tomaž Šalamun

[I got these poems from the Realpoetik list-serve today. I like them quite a bit: at first the small lines, the nouns suggest they're going to be imagist poems; but they seem to be about the twitchiness of "images" in poetry, how images are never images in poetry (they are text): "the mutation of the eye." Mostly I think of T.S. as writing these wild, ungainly O'Hara-influenced poems, but these seem up to something quite different with the tight compression.]


Sleep pours in on the Polish hills,
an arm grabs a golden stamp.

A squirrel dies in a bag.
A cricket flies over a clearing.

We know where the sword of the brave is from.
The mutation of the eye is the secret.


The lion, which falls on its face, bends the little girl.
Red blood spurts.


The game is death. Husk before death.
In euphoria there are the blackest flowers.


You are my angel.
Mouth strewn with chalk.
I am the servant of the ritual.
White mushrooms in a white field.
In a plain of fire.
I walk on gold dust.


Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry. "Fountain," "'The game is death...'" and "'You are my angel'" from Sonet o Mleku (Sonnet on Milk), 63, 30, and 26, respectively.

Tomaž Šalamun has published more than 37 books of poetry in Slovenia and 11 books in English. His many honors include the Preseren Fund Prize, a visiting Fulbright to Columbia University, and a fellowship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He also has served as Cultural Attaché to the Slovenian Consulate in New York. His poetry has been translated into more than 20 languages around the world. Woods and Chalices, translated by Brian Henry, appeared from Harcourt in 2008.

Brian Henry's sixth book, Wings Without Birds, will appear from Salt Publishing in April 2010.


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