Name
Tomaž Šalamun
Country
Slowenia
Tomaž Šalamun was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, in 1941. He studied the history of art at the University of Ljubljana. In the 60s, he worked as a Concept- and Environment artist and experimented with language. Šalamun was a member of the multimedia group OHO-collective and participated in exhibitions in former Yugoslavia and in New York.

Rarely has a young man managed to alter the poetry of his country so radically and to challenge any kind of authority to the same extent as Šalamun. In 1964, as the editor of the literary magazine Perspektive, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, but was released under international pressure after five days, so becoming a symbolic figure overnight. "Subsequently, I had to give absolutely everything to my poems, in order to justify this undeserved fame."

His first stay in America had a strong influence on Šalamun's writing, as did further periods abroad in Italy, France and Mexico during the eighties. As from 1971, he spent two years participating in the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, and since then he has repeatedly returned to American universities as a guest professor. Besides his own work as an author, Šalamun has also translated works by W.C. Williams, Apollinaire, Wallace Stevens etc.

Šalamun's first volume of poetry "Poker" appeared in the underground in 1966 and marked a new beginning in post-war Slovenian poetry. To date, Šalamun has published more than 31 volumes of poetry, and his work has been translated into numerous languages. Šalamun refers to himself as a "monster", who investigates the monstrous nature of the human soul in writing, thereby exploding the boundaries and rules of his mother tongue. His poems combine the experimental and visionary aspects of European lyricism with the provocation and sobriety of North American poets.

His poetry of rebellion is a negation without a specific programme, an act of self-liberation and open searching. His poems are fast, playful, absurd, full of the present, but sometimes also tender and sensitive. Ultimately, it may be this diversity to which Šalamun owes his popularity in Slovenia. Witty, elegant and provocative, his poetry triggers a leap to the heart of the reader's own imagination, to the place where personal freedom unfolds and we are able to sense the sublime.