Poetry International Poetry International

Welcome to Slovenian poetry - March 2005

18 januari 2006
Slovenian poetry boasts a rich tradition of women poets, whose work and significance are gaining special attention. Accordingly, Slovenia’s PIW pages will spotlight women poets during 2005, beginning with the powerful, incisive and socially engaged voice of Taja Kramberger.
Taja Kramberger’s is one of the strongest and most accomplished poetic voices in the Slovenian poetry of the past decade. Her debut poetry collection, Marzipan (1997) was nominated for the prestigious Jenko Award in 1998, her second book of poems The Sea Says (1999) received wide acclaim, and her work is increasingly anthologized both in Slovenia and abroad. It is, of course, the inner dynamism and ‘development’ of poetry, rather than its external or social commendation, that matter most, as these can come about only as a consequence of the poet’s personal investment in the text itself. From the start, Taja Kramberger has left no doubts about such an investment. The last few years have also seen the publication of a book of her poems in German, entitled Gegenströmung/Protitok (2002) (Counter-Current) and of her latest poetry collection, Velvet Indigo (2004). A Slovenian-French-English-Italian work Mobilizacije/ Mobilisations/ Mobilizations/ Mobilizationi is due to be published shortly.

It goes without saying that we can talk about poetry first and foremost as poetry. To differentiate between female and male poetry is in itself a paradox, but one which, in the context of Slovenian poetry, is not without a background. From the very beginnings, women poets have been just as much a part of poetry creation as men poets. Although admittedly fewer in number, their poetic expression has been equally as powerful as that of their male colleagues. Women poets from the period between world wars, Lili Novy (1885-1958) and Ada Škerl (1924), then Neža Maurer (1930) and Saša Vegri (1934), closely followed by the first-rate poet, unfortunately very difficult to translate, Svetlana Makarovič (1939), were joined in the ‘70s by Erika Vouk (1941), Meta Kušar (1952), Ifigenija Simonovič (1953), Irena Zorko (1954), Vesna Furlanič Valentinčič (1957) and the slightly younger Vida Mokrin Pauer (1961), Maja Vidmar (1961) and Barbara Simoniti (1963). Barbara Korun (1963), Taja Kramberger(1970) and Lucija Stupica (1971) are the main representatives of the ‘70s.

Slovenia is a small country with a population of under two million. Throughout history, a large number of Slovenians have left the country for political or economic reasons, but many settled across the Slovenian borders following the various geopolitical changes and now make up the Slovenian minorities in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. A number of women poets write outside Slovenian borders: Maja Haderlap (1961) in Austria, Ivanka Hergold (1943) in Italy, Maruša Krese (1947) in Germany, Cvetka Lipuš (1966) in America, and Ana Praček Krasna in Australia. If we also add to the list the Macedonian poet Lidija Dimkovska (1971) and Stanislava Chrobakova Repar (1961) from Slovakia, both very fine poets in their own languages who have recently also won recognition as ‘Slovenian’ poets, we get a very diverse, global selection of women poets who have contributed significantly to Slovenian culture and who have of late had a considerable influence on their male colleagues.

Despite our nation being small, there are, as we can see, a fair number of women poets writing in the Slovenian language. It is true, probably for more or less the same reasons as elsewhere in the world, that women poets were by and large, with a few exceptions, pushed into the background. Thus, their names do not appear in national anthologies or other ‘representative’ selections. Recently, however, Slovenia has been undergoing a small revolution in this respect. An awareness about women poets is finally growing and a number of literary magazines, most prominently the journal Apokalipsa, have devoted entire volumes to female writing and gender issues. The first anthology of women poets was published not long ago. The fact that the Slovenian pages of PIW will this year be filled exclusively by women poets also shows we have become aware of the importance and value of presenting a diversity of female voices. Taja Kramberger is undoubtedly among the strongest. Not only is she a powerful poet, but her keen intellect, wide learning, sharp intuition and penetrating writing have all enabled her to position herself firmly in defence of the humanist tradition and of social awareness. In these times of global neo-liberalism, this is most precious, though, sadly, more and more like a voice crying in the wilderness.
© Iztok Osojnik, Peter Semolič, Ana Jelnikar
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Lira fonds
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère