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There are very few major European poets of the early twentieth century not already known to English-language audiences, but Srecko Kosovel is one. Often called the Slovene Rimbaud (he died at twenty-two, leaving almost 1,000 poems), the full range and significance of his poetry has been revealed only slowly even to Slovenians themselves, and yet he is a major voice of Central European modernism, whose work explores powerfully and incisively the problems of individual identity and allegiance in the face of the new century with its strong call, to one living through the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to international socialism.
Kosovel's poetry reflects at once the turmoil of the Balkans after the Great War and, at exactly the same time as Ungaretti, Joyce and Rilke were experiencing it, so deep a love of and connection to his native Karst region that he turns it into one of the most remarkable symbolic landscapes of twentieth century poetry.
Although certain limited English selections of his work have appeared in the past, this edition, superbly translated by the poets Bert Pribac (Slovenia) and David Brooks (Australia), is the largest and most comprehensive selection to have appeared in any language other than his own.
‘Although most editions of Kosovel, even in Slovenian, privilege his later, more experimental poems, The Golden Boat gives nearly as much space to these earlier poems. I think this is an excellent editorial decision, because it compels the reader to assess the earlier work alongside the later work rather than view the earlier poems as quaint rural pieces by a budding poet, stepping stones toward real greatness. Many of these early poems are brilliant.’ —Brian Henry
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