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Šalamun, Tomaž. The Selected Poems of Tomaž Šalamun. New York. 1988. Ecco Press. 0880011602. Translated from the Slovene. Edited by Charles Simic. Introduction by Robert Hass. 93 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Jo Anne Metsch. Photograph of the author by Charles LePrince.

 

  
0880011602FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

From the Introduction: Salamun belongs to the generation of Eastern European poets - it includes Joseph Brodsky of Russia and Adam Zagajewski of Poland - who came of age in the 1960s. He shares with these contemporaries a sense of history and commitment to the freedom of his art, but he is likely to take some Western readers by surprise because he also belongs to the traditions of European avant-garde and experimental poetry. This crossbreeding has produced a unique and exhilarating body of work. Playful, strange, full of whimsical self-mythologizing, marked by a sense of the absurd, an edge of anger, a sense of compassion for all forms of private and baffled suffering, his work has the genuinely unpredictable quality that always signals the presence of a living imagination. Šalamun, like Brodsky and Zagajewski, grew up not with the searing experience of war and its aftermath that has marked the poetry of the older generation (Zbigniew Herbert in Poland, Miroslav Holub in Czechoslovakia, Vasko Popa in Yugoslavia), but in the postwar years, when the pinched material circumstances of economic recovery and the pervasive intellectual dishonesty of Stalinism were a kind of normality, the world as given. [The] political condition which for the older generation marked a change, a narrowing of possibilities, seems to have been for the younger generation part of the atmosphere of childhood, so they experienced it as not so much a matter of culture, but a matter of nature. This is not a poetics of revolution, or even of revolt. The issue isn’t justice. It has no millenarian program; it is oppressed by the language of a millenarian program. And so it has the quality of inchoate rebellion, rebellion without a program. It begins in a negation that is also an act of self-liberation, and its future is open-ended . . . . It is this tradition, or this historical moment in European poetry, to which Tomaž Šalamun, with his love of the poetics of rebellion, belongs. 

 

Salamun TomazTomaž Šalamun (July 4, 1941 – December 27, 2014) was a Slovenian poet born in Zagreb in 1941. He published more than thirty books of poetry and frequently taught at universities in Pittsburgh, Richmond, and Texas. Early in his career, he edited the literary magazine Perspektive and was briefly jailed on political charges. He studied art history at the University of Ljubljana and published his first collection, Poker, at the age of twenty-five. He won Slovenia’s Preseren and Mladost Prizes, as well as a Pushcart Prize, and was a Fulbright Fellow at Columbia University. He was a member of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Art.

 

Robert Hass is the author of Twentieth Century Pleasures, winner of the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. He is currently at work on his third collection of poems, and lives in Berkeley, California.

 

 


 

 

 


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