Poetry by Aleš Šteger

The sun is stuck

The sun is stuck
In the crown of a century-old oak.

If only I too could
Recline always awake

In its clear shadow,
The sky in my eyes.

Like a virgin forest

Like a virgin forest
We too have become coal.

You, who goes into yourself,
Remember the echoes.

Whoever digs into time
Injures eternity.

The master’s spiders

The master’s spiders are weaving
A wireless network around us.

Someone on another continent
Secretly reads our thoughts.

Through the door nothing is visible.
In the dark we are smaller than gnats.

My palms reach for you,
Sink into a veiled mirror.

When I finally reach you,
I embrace the whole world.

A person is a shadow

A person is a shadow
Thrown by a letter.
The letter goes everywhere.
The shadow doesn’t leave
The cave.

A person isn’t a spot

A person isn’t a spot.
A person is a tail.
In absolute reality
All scenarios
Are possible.
Our spectrum
Is the strait.
We are all,
But at the same time
All possibilities
Aren’t for us.
Oh, my lovely blinders!
Oh, my gorgeous tail!
Oh, the past,
Which sits on me like
A fly on a nose.
Fate gives us
Unbearable freedom.
That’s why I’d rather
Pull and pull
The whole world like a puzzle
That I created.
No, a person isn’t a spot.
Truth isn’t a horse.
I affirm this, unshod
And under no duress.


Aleš Šteger

Slovenian writer Aleš Šteger has published seven books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays. A Chevalier des Artes et Lettres in France and a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, he received the 1998 Veronika Prize for the best Slovenian poetry book, the 1999 Petrarch Prize for young European authors, the 2007 Rožanč Award for the best Slovenian book of essays, and the 2016 International Bienek Prize. His work has been translated into over 15 languages, including Chinese, German, Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, and Spanish. He has published four books in English: The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 as a Lannan Foundation selection and won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award; Berlin, a collection of lyric essays, appeared from Counterpath Press in 2015; Essential Baggage, a book of prose poems, appeared from Equipage in England in 2016; and the novel Absolution appeared in England in 2017. He also has worked in the field of visual arts (most recently with a large-scale installation at the International Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India), completed several collaborations with musicians (Godalika, Uroš Rojko, Peter N. Gruber), and collaborated with Peter Zach on the film Beyond Boundaries.

Brian Henry

Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Static & Snow (Black Ocean, 2015). He co-edited the international magazine Verse from 1995 to 2017 and established the Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2015. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 and won the Best Translated Book Award. He also has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s  Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008) and Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA, 2015). His poetry and translations have received numerous honors, including an NEA fellowship, a Howard Foundation grant, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, the Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, the George Bogin Memorial Award, and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant.

Above the Sky Beneath the Earth. Copyright (c) Aleš Šteger, 2015. English translation copyright (c) Brian Henry, 2018.