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Book details:
A Ballad for Metka Krasovec

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also by the author:
The Selected Poems
Four Questions of Melancholy
The Book for My Brother
Woods and Chalices
There's the Hand and There's the Arid Chair
The Blue Tower
On the Tracks of Wild Game

  a ballad for metka krašovec

by Tomaž Šalamun

translated from the Slovene by Michael Biggins

Tomaž Šalamun was one of the most influential and prolific poets in Central Europe over the past few decades. Thanks to the translation of his work, he also received wide international acclaim. A number of volumes of his poetry have been published in English, yet A Ballad for Metka Krašovec, originally published in Slovenia in the early 1980s at the mid-point of Šalamun’s career, is considered to be seminal in his oeuvre, not least for the influence it has had on younger poets both in his home country and abroad. The first time a complete single volume of Šalamun’s poetry appeared in English translation, it is characterized by often striking imagery and a sexual turmoil that is pervasive, offering readers a unique opportunity to glimpse the author at a particular stage in his life and creative development. A Ballad for Metka Krašovec ranges from the incantatory and gnomic to reflections on Šalamun's lovers, family, and country to narrative-style recollections of stays in Mexico and the United States.


Tomaž Šalamun, whose work has been translated by many fine American poets, including Anselm Hollo, is quite dazzling. The long poem that opens this collection is sheer condensed delight, cross-hatched with near-familiar American sound and metaphorically rich Slovenian. Šalamun is one of ours, that is to say, a four-star trans-cultural carrier!

— Andrei Codrescu

[E]legantly laid out, striking cover designs, understated yet attractive fonts, concrete links between visual style and verbal content: all hinting at Tomaž Šalamun's background as a conceptual artist. And much of his work is pictorial: relying as often on metaphor and imagery as on the staccato declarative tone which often characterises his work.

Poetry Wales

Aside from being wonderful poetry – the translations by University of Washington Slavic and East European studies librarian Michael Biggins have tremendous energy and ease – the book gives immediate and fascinating insight (and hindsight) into the paradoxes of the cold war writer's life in the East.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Šalamun's poetry is not so much a response to particular experiences, so matter how socially transgressive they may be, but is experience itself.

— Kevin Hart, Verse

[T]his unexpected collection by a Czech [sic] small press destroys previous notions about Šalamun and should win every translation prize available.

The Bloomsbury Review

Quiet yet also strangely exuberant, Šalamun's lyrics are invigorated with the dissonance of outburst and metaphysical reflection, fusing public utterance and interior meditation in a way rarely seen in a poetic culture so consumed by a now-hackneyed "post-Postmodernism."

— Ethan Paquin, Boston Review

Like Dostoevsky, for whom consciousness was disease and salvation, Šalamun celebrates art as both punishment and transcendence. Poetic vision assaults whoever would escape vital living ... Imagining Šalamun's wives and lovers, male and female, Ballad conflates and celebrates unrestricted art and love.

— Michele Levy, World Literature Today

What a strange turn of events that a poet who hails from a country of only two million and writes in a language that very few Americans understand should have such a profound impact on American poetry. But it is the case that Tomaž Šalamun is one of the most influential voices now speaking to younger American poets.

— Christopher Merrill


ISBN 9788086264127
156 pp., 145 x 205 mm
softcover with flaps

April 2001

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