Barbara Pogačnik


Barbara Pogacnik








              Eux, comme un vil sursaut d`hydre…

              Mallarmé, Le Tombeau d`Edgar Poe


The world is swaying on a laden platter

and whoever can’t afford to buy a table,

slides off like over ripe wine grapes.

Tomorrow it’ll be too late to see which

starter the paper war has brought us to.

Our tongue is long, an unending,

harmless snake winding between our hands,

roasted or unroasted from every side,

piercing its way through broken breads

& you are surprised at how

way beyond hunger

the sunken captain ushers his commands.



Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Stephen Watts




Ballad for the Ear


Houses stand upright as necks.

Cats move quietly across playgrounds at night.

No one plays games of chance any more.

The lines are drawn. In the neck

precisely spun threads tie

an ever-tighter grip around the throat.

You can hear the sleep of turned-off

car engines. The ear vibrates,

the music ear of the ballooned body of a purplish-gold fish,

imported and inflated at the market stall.

The ear sways and its bristles

that prevent touching, shimmer.

People cry into oil wells

so as to caress the erect necks of houses.

They dive ever deeper to reach

the purple gold.

They are willing to walk through entire cities of rain.

The river gazes into their eyes.

Rain needs no words to stammer.

Flies and elephants sneak up on people

so that they forget the houses are upright,

forget their long walking.

Cold bird song flows

past the spongy stones on the footpath.

The ear ebbs back inside its fragile conch

and gurgles in its sleep.

Its path is sandy,


Its river watches, with astonishment, as the veins of

an oil pipeline run through the Earth’s Ear.



Translated by Veronika Dintinjana & Stephen Watts




Pumpkins Lying in the Field


The soot of morning mixing with the night.

A rushing train smarts from the summer-burnt fields.

Pumpkins are lying filled with peace underneath the sun, reddening on the horizon.

As inconstant angels we are having a talk

under the arcades in the blue car with an open roof.

A light breeze is forcing the cream of clouds through our fingers.

When we lie on the hard bed of argument,

the stars are stepping over us.

The night shakes its dark mane under the arcades and hits the road.

On the run, I am eating the little stone apples from the facades in Ljubljana

and the wind is blowing angel`s tears away as though they were sand,

sending them to be sold in the supermarkets.

The hum of the sea around your

naked waist, which only half-gives itself

to an embrace – be it a letter.

The pumpkins are lying in the field,

the summer has left its fruits on the quiet tablecloths,

hid the timid pits into the fleshy armour of time.

The sun with its bare hand touches the forest,

the train for an instant tilts to the side, off the rails.



Translated by Ana Jelnikar







A beam’s hurting my eye

but everyone tells me there’s nothing there.

Long days after it is meant to have surfaced

I can feel it again in the grain of sand

which lodges under my eyelid.

This grain is our island where

every new day we forget.

Right there in the grain we eat rare dishes, want more.


More and more doubts on our lips

flock together, calling out

noisily to each other, flocks of pigeons

in Paris pecking at sodden garbage,

escalators down shafts of civilization are glutted.

We let the Slovenian island thirst down into the grain of sand.


In a massive breeze people on bicycles are thrown about the tarmac –

fish cast on sand cannot swim out from dry land.

Even the island shudders beneath the blasts of wind,

folding like a window of sand.

For a moment in the reflection, beyond the car,

the image of us fractures, but while driving

this has not yet become clear.

The flashest of cars

stare into people like fat carp,

with little tails on the lashes of fake eyes.

And in the clumsy to-and-fro of these tails,

while falling in an arc towards the asphalt,

I can feel the dress

of Marie Antoinette around my waist.

Time gently places some armour next to her head.

It’s time to tell it straight:

I refuse to pursue the view from the car`s cage.


But the black metal-freaks don’t allow themselves to be interrupted

in their awkward swim across the salty earth.



Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Stephen Watts
















Barbara Pogačnik, poet, translator and literary critic, born in 1973, graduated in Romance linguistics and literature from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and completed her MA at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her first poetry collection, Poplave (Inundations) was published in 2007 by the most important Slovenian publisher, Mladinska knjiga, nominated for the best first book award and longlisted for Jenko Prize (the prize for the poetry book of the year). Her second poetry book V množici izgubljeni papir (Sheets of Paper Lost in the Crowd) has appeared in 2008 by the LUD Literatura publishing house and was also warmly greeted by critics. Her bilingual book Modrina hiše / The Blue of the House appeared in 2013, announcing her newcoming book again at the biggest Slovenian publishing house. Forthcoming also her book Stopinje po rižu / Footsteps on rice and a book of literary essays Prešito – razšito (Sewn/Unsewn). Her poetry in translation has appeared in English, French, Italian, Finnish, Serbian, Hungarian, Catalan, Polish, Romanian, Croatian, Welsh, Hebrew, Turkish, Armenian, Albanian, Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Macedonian, German, Arabic, Bolgarian. She has participated in about 40 different literary manifestations in more than 20 different countries, and has been writer in residence in different international programs (Poland, Great Britain, Albania, Austria).





Her translations into Slovenian include authors such as Pierre Reverdy, Maurice Blanchot, Henri Michaux, Oscar L. Miłosz, Michel Deguy, Paul Ricoeur, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Lacan, Jean Baudrillard, Marguerite Duras, Jean-Luc Nancy, J.M.G. Le Clezio, Raymond Roussel, Jean-Luc Marion and others. She is also translating from English, Italian, Serbian and Croatian.


She is on the editorial board of the literary magazine Literatura from 2001 and was editor of the publication Litterae slovenicae edited by the Slovenian Writers`Association. She was teaching at the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Ljubljana (2002-2004) and is on Administrative Board of the Slovenian Authors Association.

From 2007 on, she is the director of the international festival Poets Translating Poets Sinji krog / The Azure Circle.

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