Tone Skrjanec

Tone Skrjanec was born in Ljubljana in 1953 and graduated in sociology from the University of Ljubljana. He had worked as a teacher and journalist before becoming program and poetry events co-ordinator at the France Preaeren Cultural Centre in Ljubljana in 1990. He has also been the organiser of the Trnovo Tercets festival of traditional poetry for several years. Since his first collection of poems Blues zamaha (1997) he has published a haiku booklet Sonce na kolenu (The Sun on a Knee, 2000) and three more collections of poetry, Pagode na veter (Pagodas on the Wind, 2001), Nozi (Knives, 2001) and Baker (Copper, 2004). In 2003, a group of poets and musicians from Ljubljana (Cucnik, Podlogar, Vrecar, Mozetic, Skrjanec) recorded the CD Koscek hrupa in scepec soli (A Bit of Noise and a Pinch of Salt), where Skrjanec presents five poems accompanied by the musician Jani Mujic. Apart from writing poetry, Tone Skrjanec also translates poems and novels from English, Croatian and Serbian (Goran I. Jankovic, Tatjana Gromaca, and Delimir Resicki for example), reserving special attention for modern American literature (Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Gary Snyder, Frank O'Hara and Timothy Liu).

First published in Circumference, Autumn/Winter 2003, New York. Translated by Ana Jelnikar.
I am so calm. red moon. it has just come drifting
from beyond the clouds. slowly, like an inquisitive toddler. on television there is a small florid vase with a dried-up rose and violence. killings with hands and guns. it's all very fast, as if it were for real. monika doesn't know this. she sleeps quietly. sleeps and breathes evenly like a machine. it is night. but I can hear the cars not sleeping. nor cats. screeching, they chase each other beneath our window. I can't sleep either. I sit, can't say I'm thinking, just watching the vein that licks your palm like a river.

Translated by Ana Jelnikar
Eleven at night. The beginning is crucial.
Not long ago we were still trying to catch the sun.
This became obvious
only with a certain distance in time and space.
It's night, so you put on
your tiger-togs,
go walking for an hour and half,
then another half hour,
but you're still not there.
This journey of yours,
this vague set design
and the long awaited denouement,
catharsis, nirvana, what you will,
doesn't really matter to anyone.
People just aren't interested,
slurping down their lemonade, talking about
Right now I have no desire to think,
not even to get into thinking.
Go jump with your comments.
And don't forget, grasshoppers
lived here once.
That's why it's all green,
the window wide open and the lights on.

Catching the Rhythm
Translated by Ana Jelnikar
With a good deal of almost god-like patience,
we should be dealing with more serious issues.
Those whose contact with reality
is undeniably direct and proven a hundred times over.
Which carry a symbol or two,
a whole hoard of them. Which,
in moments of uncertainty and dilemmas of the heart,
will whisper to us big and serious names
normally not spoken out loud
and most certainly not in public.
All those unclear, in fact, those never quite explained rules
need to be seriously considered.
And we need to lend our ears to the wise, so
we can then act against their advice.
Also we should swap our skin for a new and clean one,
one not yet drawn or written on, reprogamme our eyes
and visit a few unexplored regions
deep inside us.
(Remember, though, don't search in your head what's hidden in the eyes.)
At bottom, we also need to accept
that this summer will be as hot as hell,
even if most probably short,
and the evening siesta over cool beer
will once again become a useless
though pleasurable habit, like flirtation
or catching sight of naked skin.
We'll try not to get upset over trivia,
but sit on a rock, straight backed,
with twisted sun-glasses,
and a prolonged stare
into the same spot
of concentrated nothing in the middle of nowhere,
totally pulsing in the subtle rhythm.

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