Monday, July 20, 2009

"Without poetry, there would be no world"

Meeting Iztok Osojnik, you would not guess right away that he’s one of the top poets in the country of Slovenia. He doesn’t mention his numerous awards or publications when you first meet him (or the next time or the next and so on). But when he starts to read, the whole room falls silent. Here is the opening of his poem, “Father”:

“You never said anything
and I never heard anything
but there is no doubt:
the best in me
comes from
the twilight of your

(translated by Ana Jelnikar)

In his poem, “Town/Place,” he says “This morning is one of many, but also exists for the first time.”

After reading his poems, Iztok gave a talk on writing. Poetry, he said, was language used to its highest potential. “Without poetry, there would be no world.”

Iztok spoke about translation and how it involved “entering into the Other,” using a form of communication that goes beyond the horizontal level. He referred to Walter Benjamin’s essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” and spoke of a poem as a way of thinking.

He told us to walk around Skocjan and absorb all the inspiration of this place perched above the underground caves.

Finally, he assured us that “language carries you through.” We have only to set down the words and that will lead us in the right direction.

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