Cheers to Slovenia! Živijo! Smem prositi za ples? The Slovene author Anja Golob writes poetry, does translations, is an editor, a critic and a dramaturg. CROWD-Scout Linde Nadiani met her in Ljubljana just recently where they had a coffee. Now she told me about her poetry, about the Slovenian literary scene and about her recent publication in German. Let’s dance with Anja Golob.
Julia Schiefer (JS): What interests you in CROWD?
Anja Golob (AG:) There’s literally millions of people writing literature, some of which is even worth reading. I need ways for what I write to reach the readers. I hope CROWD to be one way to do that.
JS: From outside of Europe the European Union seems to be fairly recognized as an economic unit. From inside of Europe it looks quite different even though a lot has changed over the last few years. This calls for new European networks of cultural activities among the involved countries and new kinds of festival organisations concerning the different languages. What do you have in mind when you hear “European literature” and what would you like to contribute to a European literature?
AG: I’m mostly deeply frustrated with it. I see the Slovene literary scene as seriously conflicted, people rarely standing alone and doing things with conviction, but mostly they want to be part of diverse groups and be part of the progress which comes with them – and that I personally find sick. To the outside I am, by the definition of what I do, ontologically marked by the language I use. This language is spoken by ca. 2 mio. people, and because the Slovenian state and the Slovenian Ministry of Culture have no idea and no plans as to how to promote, translate, represent and help to spread Slovene literature in Europe and the World – what is done is done only sporadically – hence has close to no effect.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”” class=”” cite=”” link=””]I’m mostly deeply frustrated with it. I see the Slovene literary scene as seriously conflicted[/pullquote]
JS: Crowd is an assemblage of literary activists. What do you have in mind when you hear “literary activist”?
AG: Not much more than the word “activist” in general triggers.
JS: This year you published a collection of poems “ab und zu neigungen” (hochroth, Vienna 2015), your first publication in German translation. Is this a 1-to-1 translation of a book you published in Slovenia or is it a new collection? And have you anything to do with the translation or the (very good!) design of “ab und zu neigungen”?
AG: It is a collection of 13 poems from my 2nd Slovene book “Vesa v zgibi”, that have been translated into German and reassembled by the editor Johanna Oettl. Then the book was given a new title and was published by hochroth in Vienna in early March this year. I didn’t have anything to do with the translation, apart from answering a few questions by the translators about some spots in poems that were unclear to them.
JS: You also do the dramaturgy for theater and performances. Do you think that this in some way inspires your writing poems (or vice versa)?
AG: Not necessarily inspires, but I’m sure it influences it, which is mostly shown in the way my poems are constructed.
JS: It’s again about the difference of literature and performing arts. The text for a performance, if there is one, is something completely different from the performance – text loosing its form of being written. How has the metamorphose of the written word influenced your writing? And what do you think about readings?
AG: I obviously spend (some times rather a lot of ) time when writing poetry on its sound part, too. I think readings are a good way for people to hear one interpretation of poetry (the one from the author), but hopefully not the only one (and absolutely not the only “right” one), as good poetry should provide a plethora of interpretations. I read my work alone in all the languages I speak though; pathos is obviously something I would care to avoid.
JS: Crowd is also about new ways of dissemination of literature. Have you thought about having your poems performed? What would that look like?
AG: Depends who would do it, and what they’d want to achieve with it. I’m against butchering them, but I am very fond of experiments and would support also very weird ones, if there would be a clear purpose to them.
JS: I really love your poem about the animal having fingers (which is also on your website, “Aderndraht”) and the one which is in translation “Yes, the Springs Had Need of You.” It has great lyrical quality and at the same time is so simple, almost like prose. Could you tell me more about them?
[pullquote align=”left” color=”” class=”” cite=”” link=””]I am very fond of experiments and would support also very weird ones, if there would be a clear purpose to them.[/pullquote]
AG: Gladly, but do please specify the question.
JS: I think both poems have something remorseless and futile. Like being screened on a blant, white wall of limestone in an emotionless manner, almost like a documentary metaphor (if that is possible). And like in all your poems it has a very rhythmic quality, like dancing in a kitchen. It seems that poetry is something you can exercise your dancing with and at the same time you have a kind of overview over life, stepping back. I wonder how a poem would come into existence (or is it already written when you put it down)?
AG: Methods vary a lot from poem to poem. Thanks a lot for your description, it is very interesting and useful to me to read how a reader who is prepared to spend time and devote attention to my writing sees what I do. I’d say actually what you write somehow encapsulates the essence of what I’m trying to achieve with poetry, I guess. Obviously one strives for a variety of things, would like to do this and that with a particular poem, thinks about the links between them, and as time goes by a personal poetic develops. I do see some characteristics of it, but fear it isn’t on me to speak about them, as I am the one that is doing the sewing. I think somehow it is on critics and readers to speak about the quality of the shirt, not me.
“Anja Golob was born in 1976 and has so far published three books of poetry, two in Slovene, one in German translation, selections of poems and other texts in numerous magazines, and about 750 theatre critiques. Second book was nominated for both Slovene poetry prizes, and was awarded The Jenko Prize 2014. Its 1st print sold out in 16 months.”
Photo by Kaja Avberšek