Seven Slovene Poets introduced by Sydney Lea

Seven Slovene Poets introduced by Sydney Lea
June 26, 2024 Lea Sydney



For reasons there’s no need to explore, I have had a long literary and personal attachment to Slovenia, visiting there all but annually for a quarter century, publishing a book of poems with a Slovene house, and developing crucial relationships, none more important than with Marjan Strojan, brilliant poet in his own right and his nation’s pre-eminent translator of anglophone literature. (See his extraordinary contributor’s note.) Without Marjan’s advice and assistance, this feature would never have come to pass.


I consider Slovenia perhaps the most beautiful nation of the many I have visited. It is, moreover, astonishingly varied: the country has a lovely Mediterranean coast, majestic Alps, countless, stunning medieval and Renaissance towns, a lake district, a cosmopolitan, beautifully laid out capital city, and more. The work presented here will indicate that Slovenia is equally rich in poetry and in poetic variousness, as remarkable as the country’s own. I believe there is something in the following feature for every taste.


I could keep iterating my enthusiasm for Slovene culture, could dwell on how moving I find it, for example, that the poets and writers of this tiny country literally saved its very language from a procession of foreigners’ efforts to eradicate it. Most recently, during World War II Slovenia was divided among the Axis Powers of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Hungary, each of which tried either to discourage or outright to suppress the Slovene tongue. The dedication and integrity that went into salvaging the national idiom are– to choose a lately all but ruined word– awesome.


I’ll close by repeating my gratitude to Marjan Strojan, to the poets and their translators who make up this collection, and to Danny Lawless, dauntless founder and curator of the highest-quality online literary journal in the United States.

                                                                        Sydney Lea



Miljana Cunta


9 AM

The morning multiplies like the chicks in the coop behind the house. The impatient light searches for a breach—sauntering sunbeams convert the morning into premonition. Day besieges us on every side, but we are safe from the intruder: a cool net of shadows stretches beneath our fingers. Tweedy coquetry, cottony calm, silky shimmers, and the long and tireless snip of noisy shears, which know how to stop at the end of the journey. Buttons in lively disarray and the thinnest of barely visible threads—the work of creation is safe; it doesn’t push you out of the room. Out of yourself. Fabric samples flow in waves across the furniture and let themselves be pricked where it hurts the most. Surrounded by such willing victims, we scoff at beauty; work will be our amble through the day. Given such abundant attention, words are beside the point. I wear the thick silence as a long, sumptuous gown in which I move with remarkable skill and no fear of falling. Expertly we step, she and I, as if one through the other; we waste no time on digressions. The heavy credenza shakes out its treasures each time we pass. When I place my hands on it, it too settles down.


8 PM

The nightstand is full of forbidden things. I plunge my snotty nose deep into holy water, I touch the exhibited Heart. All mysteries are within my reach. The Angel of God, my dear Guardian, keeps watch by my bed; he is perfectly beautiful and stands upright; there are no altar flowers but only a dull green wall with a mirror so I can finally see his back—it’s true, he does have wings. Now he comes closer, but he’s getting smaller and smaller, not bigger. Tiny and playful, he sits down on your lips, which get bigger and bigger, and more and more sounds come out of them, shining like pebbles in a mountain stream, gurgling sounds. The Angel, my dear Guardian, for the third time now shows me his soft face. And I too am as small as can be, hiding in the folds of the sheets and giggling. I long to touch him, to have him by me on my pillow. But there’s a narrow lane between us, from nose to mouth; I’ve traveled it more than once, up and down, but don’t dare cross it. It belongs to you—not like a tree, which roots its solidity deep in the ground, but like a cloud, which a lonely man watches through a window, and when his attention is absorbed by the excitement across the road, the wind scatters it through the sky.


9 PM

Pajamas should be ironed to a crease, towels folded in half, the bed cover fragrant with a breeze that blows with just the right strength, the curtains concealing and revealing enough for the old lady’s well-kept luxury to be seen and not seen—as the blade of the flatiron constrains unruliness, as the palm interrupts the laundry’s springtime dance, as a finger reaches for a story in large print and leaves the dark red mark of a tiny insect, as the unpruned cherry tree stands before the window. And the room shuts its eyes… With darkness comes the thought that the bodies in the photographs will step out of their frames and come into our bed and warm their feet. We were all cold when we were little, you will tell me once more on the threshold of a dream, when I’m up to my ankles in the icy Soča—the river is beautiful and doesn’t like me—and will never be able to move again.

–translated by Rawley Grau

Jure Jakob



This is a bird made of words.
Today, I’m this bird.
Smoke is drifting from somewhere.
First, it circles a little,
stands still,
then it pulls,
I can feel it being pulled up
through the warm autumn evening.
There’s a lot of moisture,
there’s been a little rain, and a little wind, too.
A leaf falls from the plum tree,
falls for a long time,
as if skipping
from one cobweb to another.
I’m listening to the water drops in the gutter,
someone at the neighbour’s draws down the blinds.
It’s dark here on the porch,
in a rounded, tangible way.
I’m not interested in the surroundings,
my circumstances are something else
than this space with seemingly
all-familiar determinants,
metres, time slipping, skipping
from hour to hour.
I don’t believe that.
I’m a bird,
crouching on a chair on the porch
and waiting, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I trust the air,
I breathe it in and cuddle it, hold on to it
and breathe it out,
it’s flowing well.
Everything that has ever happened to me
is happening right now,
has happened this way.
There’s no quantity here,
everything’s about the same all the time,
sometimes a little too much,
sometimes a little too little.
Here and there I twitch,
something gets my attention,
a mosquito, a frog’s croak in the distance,
a neighbour in the house next door
who has turned off the light.
I have sight, hearing and a bird’s mind
and among them something
that can never tip over
completely into gratitude,
completely into sadness.
My wings are made of this,
right now I’m right in the middle,
I take off.
I’m a good bird today,
waving my wings correctly
so the air allows me,
it’s incredibly soft,
the way it should be,
almost without any resistance
it persistently carries me onwards.






Wicker baskets, full of cobwebs,
will fill up with apples.
In the barn, there’s still darkness.
I don’t know my story,
I don’t know how it began
and what the end will be.
I have faith
that it began somewhere
because it has a purpose
that will one day finally get completed.

Close by, an apple tree is growing, from the middle.
Rising above expectations and memories
and the unrest that makes my hands tremor.
I get out of the car,
through my pocket, I’m caressed by a cold key.
Immediately I recognise the autumn sun.
The neighbour’s little dog
is watching me from across a bridge.
When I was a child,
his ancestor
bit me on my thighs.
I could not distinguish all birds at the time.
I was familiar with blackbird
and eagle.
Eagle was actually hawk
and blackbird a name as light as my child’s basket,
birds always something one and whole.
Just as the wind, the scent of a new notebook, water.
Wicker baskets, full of cobwebs,
still smell of apples.
I open the door
and light pours into the barn.
The light shows a broom,
an old acquaintance of the barely visible dust.
The dust rises, time swirls
between the window frames, and through the crevices, out, high
up the sky.
I’m not counting birds,
but the wicker baskets full of cobwebs.
I brush away cobwebs, put the baskets in the sun,
the sun is shining on the apple tree.
In my memory, every apple tree is the only one,
only it.
Memories make me stop,
but today I have enough time,
I’m at the trunk of time.
I climb up.
I’m picking apples, first, when the basket is still light;
I’m going to the highest branches.
The highest branches are the thinnest
and the apples there
the largest.
I’m not light like a blackbird,
I’m not like a hawk.
I feel vertigo
and chills.
When I’m losing balance,
I wave my arms around like a blackbird,
like a hawk.
I’m putting apples
into the wicker basket from which I’ve brushed the cobwebs.
I’m stacking and filling, and, in the middle,
a pile of apples rises high above the edge.
We will eat them and rejoice
because we are hungry.
Thanks for hunger.
Thanks to ancestors.
Thanks to Earth for bearing fruit,
for the stream of gifts flowing over it
and to the wind for driving them outwards and scattering
them to the edge of merits and expectations
and beyond, infinitely beyond.
Thanks to strangers.
You’re close by.
Take and eat

from these apple-filled baskets.



Sad fingers

Some strings sound brighter,
some darker.
For rich sound, you need all.
Some days one of them
will shine with a special glow,
it’s the light,
it’s the way the guitar is leaning.
As if invitingly.
It persuades you, you find, you feel the vein,
you follow, let it lead you, let it ring,
let it take all the silence for itself.
Some other time, it’s another.
Today, it’s again the turn of
one of these poor days.
One cannot do without them.
I wish for something other
than what has dazzled me,
but I comply.
I fear
it might break.
Or will precisely this
one that is most worn out,
this heavy and dull one,
really hold out the longest?



Weak times strong times

On a walk around a botanical garden,
I passed a shrubbed-over apple tree.


I pushed my way through the shrubs
and broke off a twig.


With four flower buds,
all nicely unopened.


I put it into my rucksack
and forgot all about it.


When I opened the rucksack at home,
the twig was wrinkled.


In fear, I put it into a water-filled vase
and quickly got out of the way.


After a while, I looked.
In the meantime, it had recovered.
The leaves are no longer flattened,
the buds looking each in its own direction.


I’ll be forgetting it some more;
even more so, I’ll be waiting for it to bloom.




The apple tree twig which I brought home
from a walk a week ago,
dropped its blossoms.
The leaves are drying.
The stem in the water is rotting.
I will throw it away.


Today the world is empty like my vase.
Somebody turns it upside down
and a cold wind pours out.
A starving dog rushes after it.
The dog is howling, wailing, he finds me
even if I hide far away.
Then he goes on to shake the vase
and a cloud of withered flowers falls down.
I quickly shut my eyes.
When I look up again,
my eyes sting.
I can’t take this anymore.
It’s better to bow my head,
bend my back.
This will enrage him,
he will strike against me
and break the vase.


I hope.
I believe in a new world.
– translated by Barbara Jurša

Meta Kusar
The sixth one.


Today’s your name day. Nathaniel spoke to you of sin
and you shuddered because the old foibles hadn’t been
washed away. Betrayed, you still roar from the pain.
That’s how reality endures. Goes on and on.
Even when a tempest threatens, when a rose blooms to
its last days, when no one fights over a manuscript.
Reality goes on. Goes on and on.
I raise my glass. Long is the biblical feast.
I pour water for you into silent crystal. Running water,
because all else has frozen over, dried up, rotted.
Everything’s rotten. These are shards of destroyed poems.
Time doesn’t fly. It lies like a log, it moulders unless
a strong self pulls it along. Modernism’s dung.
Kisses vanish if they don’t become truths.
So do poems.
And the Biblical feast.
And me.

–translated by Ana Jelnikar & Stephen Watts


A spool of indulgence


Do you know what’s happening ?
Where dreams and this shuddering come from?
How I shove the cold away, summer’s hoarfrost,
And wind myself into a spool of indulgence ?
I wedge myself into white carnations. And I breathe. I breathe!
Their sweet youth holds me up
Like a she-wolf her young. Do you know what is going on?
Where the scents are coming from? The tastes? The explosions of light
against the evening?
Not even the smallest ripple washes onto the shore.
From where does the celestial food come
that it bubbles on the tongue, as the senses feast ?
The spool of indulgence is my home.
I hear every needle slide into the shoulders.


Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Stephen Watts



I discovered a heated mass of pagan
gods. One cornered me, while others
threw shapes back into the mass, so they melted
with silver. As I leaped for the gold,
death gave out a groan. Does it want me to see farther?
Swords were all over me. Death pushed them away.
I saw love. Boiling vermouth disappeared,
and I saw a purple seed on a fern
in a burrow. I saw the descendants
of those murderers get reborn in the gondola. Language is


One. Out of white silence it resuscitates white earth.
Even the nightingale in its regal bough speaks it,
so the white beech grows strong in the white night.
Language takes off. I fly with it. I don’t dare say what I think
under the three-hundred-year old Calabrian pine.


Under which Johann dreamt of Faust. In Padua
generations nurtured it. In Santa Maria
della Salute, he spun around his golden axis
and the Mefisto spun around Faust’s. The dome covered them
both. Who uproots trees? Who uproots us?


When the first heavenly torsion breaks, the architect injects
his inspiration into Herod’s palace. He brings the ruler
observing his crimes a black gondola! As soon as he
steps into it, he’ll die of fear. Not even
his royal mother can save him.
Neither can death save him. Only the messenger will.
Heal him with scented wood. Under the pine
boughs, you become immortal, a baby donkey.
One day you reign over it all.
Do you still wear your hat slanted sideways?

–translated by Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson








Solitude has the same helpers as love.
It’s not winter.
Evening has no season and
no century.



In love there’s no forbidden landscape.
In a poem there’s no forbidden touch.
In the garden no forbidden flower.
In dreams no such ending.
The minutes are recorded.
There’ll be three monuments:
At the Ljubljana post office, the Rialto
And the Portuguese coast.
On altars flowers smell fresh.
On conquerors shirts are sweaty.



“You and I, we’ll never understand each other.”
“Who are you and I?”
“When is never?”

translated by Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson


Second Table


A short yellow pencil lifts the soul.
It attaches the poem to the invisible womb.
When it springs to life, the pencil tip
lays a germ amid the lines.
When the soul’s awake the poem endures.
The verse begins like me.
The verse is formed like a body.
Always there are two, dividing.
Forever the soul’s had a source, not the poem.
My soul makes the poem breathe.
It goes on breathing through yours.
I suck the dark red ripeness from the fig.
So sweet it smarts.
When I turn the fruit upside down
it’s like a bug. A curse. A defeat.
Eyes sending the impulse to the brim.
A woodpecker catches it in its red cap.
The simple happy play of childhood.
Maturity is youth. The only youth.
The dark blue fig tree ripens. The walnut tree not yet.

–translated by Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson


Iztok Osojnik

Earth Blue as an Orange


“Earth, blue as an orange.”
(Well, you have to start somewhere.)
A shattered man of
irrelevant years, I am still one of those immortals
trapped in a worm’s body, trapped in this earthly
orange until he pays his dues. He totters along with
Orion’s spear in his stomach, laughs in his heart like a
clown, not the happiest laugh but the most sincere,
kick-starts a moped, coughs into the autumn morning.
Something blue nevertheless — we ought not get too
tangled in brambles of sentences, and anyway I don’t
give a toss. My heart is a bleeding lump of meat
On a butcher’s or anatomist’s table. And also,
if you wish – I mean you who have the privilege of
sunning yourself in the shadow of this worm —
it’s also an umbrella for tears
and a sewing machine of tied hands. This should be
read as the fate of Christ, a man with the sky in his
heart and the body of a little cripple —
and in fact it was here I really wanted to start
with the crippled little man who is laughing
a bitter green laugh,
A metallic green guffaw the likes of a stinging nettle,
The little man looks into himself as into a mirror
Licked by a gust of silence.
We will now listen to a radio show,
Set the dial to the station of olive trees and lavender
And wait for the broadcast to begin… But what will begin
that I don’t know inside out already, you infernal worm?
A duck flies past the window and there’s the question of
a galleon that I capsized on a beach,
a wreckage under my bum
and I think nothing will explode in this
mouth-organ music
of purple cacophony. Waiting for my clown-like gust
My heart is watching me as if I’m a criminal
What kind of light is this, to weave all this into a coat
For a funny little man? But at least I’ve bitten the bullet
True, I don’t know what I’ll eat but October is grey
and we know
November is the cruellest of the twelve angels
The wind is gnawing at my island: one must stand firm!
I watch this place-in-a-bottle of green glass
catching light here and there
Not all of us are made for happiness,
what a stubborn turtle
Plodding away but not content to play with pain
So the bottle being must be made to face facts for a start
Autumn fog is an invigorating draught, I stick my finger
Into a star and bleed as it becomes a grown man.



This is meant to be a letter. But where’s the typewriter?
How can a man wipe his wounds if he has no cloth?
I am trying to recall the buffeting of the wind
in the labyrinth of narrow streets
in Starigrad on the Isle of Hvar. I am losing my mind
thinking about that Italian café
from the novel whose title I forget.
Something the Mediterranean shares with my heart.
Of course it is not the only thing my heart is after
in its battle with the world. But where is my boat?
I don’t have a boat, and here in this place
that makes me by definition a sailor without a boat.
Therefore let us consider this insect in my limbs.
It must be some digestion hormone, turning me live into
cloud-fodder. This side of the universe
is a leap from the frying pan into the fire.
Freedom is something green.
A man is walking along the street in prisoner’s clogs.
His chains rattle and the man is smiling.
This Martini is bloody strong. The man is
of course myself.
A traveling shop, on its shelves the happy nattering
of exotic spices, a truck
rumbling along the potholed road
through the Starigrad green.
What are those pitted fruits called? Žižula?
Forever they will mean my happiness.
Only let me dig it up out of the earth,
blister my hands. Love is always linked with a man
who is bleeding, but this one is rather more stocky.
And if anybody here thinks he is about to crawl,
they are mistaken. Of course he will.
I am speaking of that Italian café from the time
between the wars, a café in winter with its lights
already on in the morning and almost empty.
I wish I could sit by the window
with an unread newspaper spread across my knees,
a refugee from the Bora wind and the whistling
that dances through the streets,
but there is a lot to be said for pulling up your collar,
pushing your hands into your pockets
and strolling around with an unwritten book,
freeing the most intimate of your dreams,
speaking what I know full well
cannot be silenced with any silence.
Milk is white.



To speak from a place where silence speaks.
Seven hearts of mine have put on Greek armor,
they are running across the plain of Kopais
below the Chitheronia of my imagination. How
to catch dreams that have untied the hands?
From letter to letter I open out the shutters
on a little house like a children’s toy, on a little house
in a little house, in which there is another little house
and one more and it sings like the songs of Strniša.
To see and feel something for the first time as a man
counting little stones.
The shadows had frightened me off, I shut down the
computer and went to the shopping  mall. I drove around
town, in my left pocket a folded piece of paper,
a piece of iron a man carries in his heart.
And drinks from. And eats from.
Fog is a beautiful thing to a man who cannot sleep.
It washes his eyes, kisses his soul.
The land inside is green. The sky green.
Green sea. Green city. Green moonlight.
Everything green up to the zenith.
Green centipede.
Sea undulates against the morning,
sadness shimmers in glasslike depths.
Green boots on my feet ran down there
among the olive trees and cicadas.
At night I dived into a fountain,
came out with some little stones that warm my heart.
Morning light feels a face and shapes it into a delicate
blossom. I walk. The sky touches the rooftops gently.
A green hippopotamus is swimming,
seagulls screech. If you touch me your knees become
tendrils springing flowers. Water is clean as honey.
Lavender bushes nestle on my life’s crossroads.
Light is thinner than a rosemary stem.
A hazy field of lavender.
Aroma of coffee.

–translated by Ana Jelnikar and Ciaran O’Driscoll

Ana Pepelnik

Sonnets                                                          for Joshua Beckman

Incomplete dreams. Easy
morning. Towels spinning. The pinwheel
dappled. Incomplete morning.
Easy dreams. Trash men clearing
recycling bins. This is morning pinwheel.
Quite improper for incomplete
dreams. Mist. Leftovers of rain on oxeyes
and chrysanthemums. Close to beginning
of November. First smell of winter. Easy
trash men. Dappled rain and incomplete
flowers. Improper November. It always begins
with trash men and aired-out coats.
Close to beginning. First smell of November
of ventilated rain. Incomplete dreams.



Red van full of forget-me-nots slides
over streets. I’m trying to find your poem.
I don’t give name to streets. I share them
with people from this town. Red van
full of forget-me-nots. Still. Trying to find
your poem. Red airplane landing on
airport of red town. Blue forget-me-nots.
I never remember airports. I don’t run after
red airplane. Too much of forget-me-nots. Your
poem. Sliding. Van full of streets. Clown
sitting behind the wheel. Red van in front of red
fire station. Sky growing out of red house.
Blue forget-me-nots. Your poem. I share it with people
from this town. Red sky growing out of house.



Distant boats. Rain falling until
they were swept away. We peel chestnuts.
Roasted shells are little boats.
When they soak you can hear cracking
out of dried ones. Distant boats.
How many people you think still use
firewood in town? Not many.
All I do is move. Peeling chestnuts.
From one station to another. Sometimes
I say more than the usual in one day.
Firewood emits enough heat. Sometimes
I listen pipes cracking until I fall
asleep. Sometimes people are in the rain.
Until they start crying.


beloved god

beloved god.
It’s hard
to start


when once
you stopped.
So I’m telling


now. Thanks
for being there for me
while I wasn’t


for me. You were
in my universe
but together
we were so terribly


far. My second son
was born new love
we became
four.  And may the


assistant at the clinic
have the chance
to make the world better
for someone. And may the


paediatrician at the maternity ward
have the chance to be kind
to at least one mother.
That will be plenty. And may


the anorexic psychiatrist
at the psychiatry clinic
have the chance
to be loved. So she could


eat the chocolate
and be given love in kind.
It will be plenty. And may
the gynecologist
have the chance to be
blessed with her 5th child.
It will be plenty. And may it
beloved god
may it please be destined
that the main fuse of
the shopping mall is blown out
on one of these nigths


so that all those
fucking too bright lights go out
so I could go
to the garden and see


the stars. And may I
have the chance that
my love will be meant
for the crowds. Understood.


And may my death
be light. May it not
No one. Beloved god.



Ifigenija Zagoričnik Simonović


I Would Be a Tree
I would be a tree
endlessly growing,
to the tip of every branch.
I would grow fruit,
which would fall far from my trunk.
And plants from the seeds of my fruit
would not throw shadow
on anything or anyone
but invite everything and everybody
under their mantle, like Our Lady.


I would be a tree –
You alone would have permission
to fell me.


An Empowering Call
We don’t hear each other often,
but each time it seems
like the previous conversation is continuing
and it will go on long after we finish the call.


You encourage me to write.
I would be ashamed before you
if I stopped writing.
You write with such ease, you say.
I thank you, but the ease is harsh…


Am I burying my head into the sand, I don’t know,
am I squeezing blood out of a stone, I don’t know,
am I hitting a wall with my head, I don’t know,
am I sprinkling sugar or throwing grenades,
I don’t know.
You are doing all at once, you say.


Heavy Lustful Eyelids
                     –at a PEN Congress 2018

I sat down. Two men, a woman, six empty chairs.
Around the other tables it was lively. Wine was flowing.
A poet with his guitar singing, passionate about sadness. Applause.
Only after plates were taken away, did we greet each other.


Something attracted me to one of the men.
Asian. I couldn’t say where from. The colour of  his skin.
And his dark eyes beautifully inscribed. He was not eating. He ordered beer.
It seemed to me that he smelled sweet. He was silent. Sparingly.


He kept making jokes. Tourist questions, he said.
I blushed. He scented my passion, which made me want to sit closer.
As dry figs with ice-cream were served, impatiently he told me
that he had been in solitary confinement for six years. In a cage most of the time.


If his chains rattled he was bitten by the guards,
because they couldn’t play their ancient game in peace.
If he moaned his fellow prisoners kicked him,
because they couldn’t sleep when he cried out.


Prisoners were worse than jailers. They shouted, they bit the iron net,
whenever he closed his eyes and couldn’t stay awake.
They fell upon him, passionately. Because he discredited his homeland.
They jumped on his fingers so that he would not be able to write again.


Food without a spoon. Always liquid. Never warm.
Water never in a clean trough. He never washed.
Never shaved. His hair never cut. His clothes never changed.
Never really alone, not even in a solitary confinement, he said.


He was drinking, drops dropping from his hair, when he was soaked to wake him up.
Once he swallowed with a special passion. One more gulp, two.
But it was disinfectant. Liquid shit poured out of him. Green,
from the mould of his insides. This is not mine, he thought to himself, he said.


Once a week they allowed him to empty the bucket.
Three wardens, madly angry, took off his chains,
Three of them, when he could not lift his eyelid, still less his hand.
It seemed to him he could fly, he said.


He stretched his legs behind the table. His legs met mine.
I sensed peace although his knee trembled.
I was applauding the singer with his guitar, while I was beginning to fall
in love with a man I would never see again.




i imagined
a ladybird
in my hand


it was tickling
my palm
i felt each little leg


I clenched my fist


no one could ever
open my fist


outside it was pouring
lightning thunder
he threw me
beat me
tore me apart
making my hips crack


the ladybird
with me


I cried
with joy
for I’d protected it


I went
through it all



Marjan Strojan


The Evening Walks the Meadows


The evening walks the meadows, unsure which
way to turn. It listens to the darkness splashing
over the brim – and hears again the orchard cry
in its sleep.



The nightingales’ fireworks in the rain –
armies of clouds marching through
the woods: no one will survive
the weeks ahead, yet they
will all be back –
same as



Only very large or very small things really differ.
They seem like a cry from afar, too intermingled
with sounds of the night for us to care – yet, like
vultures circling the hills – they peck at our hearts
from a distance.



Across the worn-down patches of blood-mouthed fern
under juniper skies, over a fawn so tiny no crow cares
for the roadkill, the autumn hurries to the dark offices
of winter on earth.




A cold morning – hammer sharpening the scythe.
I wait for an explanation… Likely, though, it will
always be like this: A freezing morn, not a cloud
in the sky – some future sky – cold not letting up,
the edge growing thinner.



Merciful stars! Bethlehem descended on
Earth from the dark – Herodes arose and
commanded his cohorts one more Night
of the Innocents.



Darkness breaks. On the lawn
ice shadows on the grass
change into a lake of dawn
lining the mountain pass.


Numbly sniffing the air
a circle of roe deer pace
listening, listening… then take off
in its own embrace.


                                              Translated by the author.


Miljana Cunta is an editor, translator, and author of four volumes of poetry: For Half the Sky, 2010), Songs of the Day, 2014, Light from Outside, 2018, We Lost Our Way a Few Times, Now We Are Returning, 2023 She has written a number of reflections on poetry and was a guest columnist for Delo, Slovenia’s major daily newspaper. She is past program director of the international literary festivals Vilenica and Fabula.




Jure Jakob (born 1977) has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Ljubljana. He is the author of six poetry books, a monographic study about the narrative works of Lojze Kovačič, a book of prose and essays, and four poetry picture books for children. His work has received many awards, including the Prešeren Fund Award for achievements in literature (2018). He lives and works in Savlje near Ljubljana.



META KUŠAR (born 1952), poet and essayist, is the author of six books of poems: Madeira (in bilingual editions, Slovenian-English and Slovenian-Italian)1993; Silk and Flax, 1997; Ljubljana, 2004; Jasper, 2008, Garden, 2014, winner of the Veronika Best Poetry Collection of the Year Prize; Azur, 2015; Celovec, nominated for the Jenko Prize; Zmaj, 2021. Ljubljana was published in Slovakia in 2008 and in translation in England. It was likewise translated into Polish, Serbian, Czech, and German. Kušar has

also published a book of interviews, 2009, and of essays, What is Poetic, or a Lesson in What is Illegal, 2011, winner of the Slovenian award for the year’s best book of essays.



Iztok Osojnik, born 1951, poet, scholar,  translator,  mountain climber. He obtained his Ph.D. in historic anthropology. He has published 34 poetry collections in Slovenian and 6 in English (and more in other languages) as well as many scholarly books and articles. His poems and essays have been published in more than 20 languages. He has received a number of Slovenian and international literary awards for his work. In 2022 he was awarded the Golden Coin for his life work. At present he works and lives with his family in Ljubljana.



Poet and translator Ana Pepelnik’s book of poetry Ena od variant kako ravnati s skrivnostjo was published in 2007 (nominated for The First Book Award, followed by Utrip oranžnih luči na semaforjih , 2009, and Cela večnost, 2013. Her fourth book Pod vtisom (2015), her fifth book Tehno (2017), and Treš (2021) were published by LUD Šerpa.


She has translated Elizabeth Bishop, James M. Schuyler, Matthew Zapruder, Joshua Beckman, Noelle Kocot, Matthew Rohrer. Her co-translation with Matthew Rohrer of Skin, by Slovene poet Tone Škrjanec was published in the United States by Tavern Books, and was among 10 finalists for American PEN’s award for translation.


She takes part in sound-impro performances with the trio CPG Impro Čučnik Pepelnik Grom, notably Poetrix, a collaboration of musician and sound artist Jaka Berger –Brgs.


Ifigenija Zagoričnik Simonović (born 1953) holds degrees in Slavonic linguistics and comparative literature, as well as in  Studio Pottery from the Harrow school of Art and Design in Britain. In 1978, she followed her husband to London, where he worked for the BBC World Service  until his death in 2001, and she worked for ten years as a ticket seller at the Royal Academy of Arts and sold her own pots at Covent Garden. Some of her work in English translation was published in Britain by the Menard Press.  She has contributed poems and essays to all the major Slovene reviews and newspapers.


After returning to Slovenia in 2006, she saw to the publication of seven books written– on toilet paper in ink made of coffee and blood–by Vitomi Zupan, imprisoned by the communist regime for seven years.  She also collected poetry Zupan wrote after his release and prepared a comprehensive book about his life and work. From 2017 – 2021, she was president of the Slovene PEN Centre.



Marjan Strojan has written several volumes of poetry and translated BeowulfThe Canterbury TalesMilton’s Paradise Lost and his sonnets, as well as poems by William Shakespeare, Robert FrostJames Joyce, and others. He also edited and in part translated the first comprehensive anthology of English poetry in Slovene.

He won the 2000 Veronika Award for his collection  Steamers in the Rain, the 1995 and 2003 Sovre Translation Awards for Beowulf and Paradise Lost, and the 2015 Prešeren Foundation Award for The Canterbury Tales.

A former Pulitzer finalist in poetry, Sydney Lea served as founding editor of New England Review and was Vermont’s Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2015.  In 2021, he was presented with his home state’s highest distinction of its kind, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has published twenty-four books: two novels, six volumes of personal and three of critical essays, and sixteen poetry collections, most recently What Shines (2023) His latest book of personal essays is Such Dancing as We Can (2024). His second novel, Now Look, was published last month.