Veronika Dintinjana. Best young author in Slovenia in 2002, she has since had her poems published in Stony Thursday, Banipal, Mentor, Literatura, Sodobnost, Nova Revija, Dialogi, Poetikon, Lirikon, and Apokalipsa magazines. In 2008 she won the Maribor poetry tournament and the 6th Ljubljana Poetry Slam. In September of 2008 her first poetry collection, Rumeno Gori Grm Forzicij (Yellow Burns the Forsythia Bush), was published by Literatura and received the Best First Book award at the 24th Slovenian Book Fair. Her second book of poems is awaiting publication. She has read at the Vilenica and Days of Wine and Poetry festivals in Slovenia, Struga Poetry Evenings (Macedonia), Days and Nights of Literature (Neptun, Romania), Trieste Poetry Festival (Italy), PordenoneLegge (Italy), Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival (Ireland), Pontepoetica and Poetas di(n)versos in Galicia, Spain, and Marche de la Poesie in Paris, France. Her poems are translated into German, Italian, French, Croatian, Serbian, Galician, Dutch, and English. As a translator, she has published selected poems by Louise Glück, Denise Levertov, and Ciaran O’Driscoll, and essays by and Ursula K. Le Guin. Her interest as a translator is contemporary and 20th cent. North American and Irish poetry. She is the founder of Kentaver arts and literature society and runs the monthly poetry reading series Mlade Rime, as well as the annual poetry festival with the same name hosted at Metelkova Autonomous Zone in Ljubljana. She also edits the poetry book series at Kentaver. Her other vocation is medicine.
Veronika Dintinjana is a poet and translator of poetry and essays who works and lives in Ljubljana. She has studied medicine at the University of Ljubljana and is currently working as an ER surgeon.
Her public literary inception dates back to 2002, when she was recognized as best unpublished author at the Festival of Young Literature (Festival mlade literature Urška) in Slovenj Gradec. Consequently, her work has appeared in numerous literary reviews such as Mentor, Literatura, Sodobnost, Nova Revija, Dialogi, Poetikon, Lirikon and Apokalipsa.
For her debut collection of poetry, Yellow Burns the Forsythia Bush (Rumeno gori grm forzicij, LUD Literatura, 2008), Dintinjana won the Best First Book award at the 24th Slovene Book Fair and Festival. The book received favorable critical reviews, praising it for its lush imagery and the delicate flocculence of verse. In the foreword, Uroš Zupan writes that the poems
“[…] are constructed with exceptional accuracy and a keen ear, permeated with tenderness, sporadically humorous. […] The best poems come together as an alchemistic, finessed confluence of careful use of language and that which the poems in their final form should be able to reproduce: a stratified field of content, in itself a certain conglomerate of associations that time and again converge into an ever elusive meaning. […] I can assure with certainty that I have read only two debut poetry collections in the last ten years that have in themselves conjoined a similar compelling imagery and pure innocence […] These are indeed the qualities of outstanding debuts.”
In an interview dated from 2012, Dintinjana encapsulates the principles of her creativity: “That which inspires you in a way touches you, launches you into a different sort of motion, a new draw of breath, and the words follow. Everything has the potential of becoming an object of inspiration – be it beautiful, ugly, shocking, painful, or so tiny that it is considered banal.”
As a translator, Dintinjana has published poems and essays by Louise Glück (Onkraj noči, Nova lirika, MK, 2011), Denise Levertov (Proti točki noč, KUD Kentaver, 2014), Ciaran O’Driscoll (Nadzorovanje življenja, KUD France Prešeren, 2013), Ursula K. Le Guin (Ples na robu sveta, KUD Apokalipsa, 2007) and has co-translated the 20th century Irish poetry anthology, Marvelous mouth (Čudovita usta – antologija sodobne irske poezije, KUD Apokalipsa, 2007).
An avid performer, Dintinjana has won the 2008 Maribor poetry tournament and the 6th Ljubljana Poetry Slam the same year. In 2011, she represented Slovenia in the final of the first European Poetry Tournament in Maribor with the poem “Medeja”.
Dintinjana is also the founder of the Kentaver cultural society and co-organizer of the monthly poetry reading series and of the festival Mlade Rime (Young Rhymes) at Metelkova in Ljubljana, where young and unpublished writers can present themselves to the general public. The festival has in recent years found a broad following and recognition in the cultural life of Ljubljana and is currently in its 10th year of operation.
Cathedral Lions / Levi na pročelju katedrale
Rain, cold and heat have corroded
the low-grade marble; they’re like
the crest of a wave, for an instant
dissolve into foam.
Perhaps they know they are disappearing.Translated by the author with Rose Aasen
Tretjerazredni marmor so načeli dež,
mraz in vročina; podobni so
vrhovom valov, za hip
in že se razpustijo
Morda vejo, da kopnijo.
St. Francis / Sv. Frančišek
grow into the sky
until you become a tree
full of select rain and light soil
what can the wind do
when you dress up in blossoms
singularity is your scepter
neither silver nor gold
have given their body
for a table, a bed
and when birds in your crown fall asleep
you stir no more
silence replaces the alphabet of signsTranslated by the author and E. Underhill
rasti v nebo,
dokler ne postaneš drevo
poln prebranega dežja in prhke zemlje
kaj ti more veter,
ko se odeneš v cvetje?
neponovljivost je tvoje žezlo
ne zlato ne srebro
nista dala telesa
za mizo, za posteljo
in ko pospijo ptice v tvoji krošnji,
se ne premakneš več
abecedo znamenj zamenja molčanje
The Orange Tree in Front of the House Is in the Zenith / Oranževec pred hišo je v zenitu
I listen to the absence of wind in the branches
and to the unpeopled afternoon.
For three things I have left the window shutters open,
for four I close the door.
For the glowing moon which hisses when the blacksmith sinks it in water,
for the morning which turns pale when the sun peers in its face.
For the day which blushes into night, and for the threshold –
there will no longer be feet to shine it, only petals.
Three ascend towards the heavens,
four have left without a slightest sound.
The filament blew in the light bulb,
a distracted line has vanished from my head.
Through a half-open window the cold came in,
and supper found its place at the table.
Four things I cannot comprehend,
three I cannot forget.
The round stone on the beach which taught me as a child
to tell my right knee from my left, one side of the road from the other.
The all-encompassing pain that left me a moment later.
The kindly sea I dream of every night, that waits for me at the door,
and by day sends seagulls and other messengers for an answer.
And the tree which is setting over the world.
You cannot tell which revolves and which is still.
By the shadow’s length we set the sky’s directions.
By the pace’s length we know the time of night.Translated by the author and Ciaran O'Driscoll
Poslušam odsotnost vetra med listi
in neobljudeno popoldne.
Zaradi treh stvari puščam polkna priprta,
zaradi štirih zapiram vrata.
Zaradi lune, ki razbeljena zacvrči, ko jo kovač potopi v vedro.
Zaradi jutra, ki prebledi, ko ga v obraz pogleda sonce.
Zaradi dneva, ki zardi v noč, in zaradi praga,
namesto stopinj ga bodo obrusili cvetovi.
Trije se dvigajo v nebo,
štirje so šli brez najmanjšega šuma.
Šla je gorilna nitka v žarnici,
iz glave mi je ušla prekinjena vrstica.
Skozi priprto okno se je pririnil hlad
in za mizo si je prostor našla večerja.
Štirih stvari ne morem dojeti,
treh ne pozabiti.
Oblega kamna na obali, kot otroka me je naučil
razlikovati levo in desno koleno, levo in desno stran ceste.
Bolečine, ki je bila vseobsegajoča in je minila hip zatem.
Ljubeznivega morja, vsako noč ga sanjam, čaka me pred vrati.
Podnevi pošilja galebe in druge sle po odgovor.
In drevesa, ki zahaja nad svetom.
Ni moč videti, kdo se vrti okoli koga.
Po dolžini sence določamo smeri neba.
Po dolžini korakov, katera ura noči je.
Concierto de Aranjuez / Concierto de Aranjuez
It was summer, wrapped in a wintry coat of rain.
It was an autumn of ripe figs and blue draught.
White stones guarded the sleeping wells,
brambles, sweet and black, hid in the niches
of dry leaves covered with a thin layer of dust and salt,
bare slopes were overgrown with silver
sage, olive trees kept to the westerly side
and the rocks, exposed to incessant assaults of gales, to the easterly
unliving white moon-like surface, sharp-edged,
unsheltered from the sun.
In noon heat, time flows
only through the veins of shadows sated with the immobility
of living creatures and of air, earth and sun. Nothing
can change, the senses were telling me,
but I was not swayed.
Feeling that I remember
the present while it lasts, that I am clay,
paper, the medium of change,
the messenger and the message. My DNA,
memory cells in the brain,
connections between them. A message
that self-destructs when listened
to the end.
Grass snakes on hot stones are not dangerous.
Fear is dangerous, and the imprudent
haste of retreat. And too much sun.
If I do not return, the olive trees and grasses,
bramble, sage and snakes will
remain the same, unchanged.
If I return, they will also be the same,
only I shall not be and between us there will be
recollections of tastes and smells unexpressed in words.
Every successful recognition will be
cause for new happiness. This has not changed,
at least this has not changed, at the core
it remains the same, for I recognize these leaves,
I recognize the strong fragrance of herbs,
for the sea is still salty and the stone still
white and rough.
Not the same, equal. And if not,
at least the trace of change is
equal, testimony that time was
here, too, that it had stood still among us
and made a break in its script —
I lay down on the earth, it was cold,
calm, still, I shut my eyes and waited
to take in her wisdom, to stop
when it was still time, to let go. I shut my eyes,
brought down the volume of my thoughts. Only my ears
remained grounded. Sounds of a vacant field
and my breathing. Then, a sudden sound,
like wind shifting leaves in the trees,
as if the canopies were full and it was summer again.
I looked. Above me, a flock of migrating birds.
I heard the movement of their wings in flight.
The unexpected sound of departure and changes
bared me. I rose
slowly, the palms of their wings giving me
to see, suddenly, by my side, a passage.Translated by the author and E. Underhill
Bilo je poletje, zavito v zimski plašč dežja.
Bila je jesen zrelih fig in modre suše.
Beli kamni so varovali speče vodnjake,
črne in sladke so se robidnice skrile v niše
suhih listov, prekritih s tanko plastjo prahu in soli,
gola pobočja so prerasli srebrni grmi
žajblja, oljke so imele zahodno stran
in skale pod stalnim pritiskom burje vzhodno,
neživo, belo površino meseca, ostrih robov
brez zaklona pred soncem.
V opoldanski vročini teče čas
samo še po žilah senc, nasičen z negibnostjo
živih bitij in zraka, zemlje in sonca. Nič
se ne more spremeniti, so govorili čuti,
a nisem verjela.
Z občutkom, da se spominjam
sedanjosti, ko še traja, da sem kakor glina,
kakor papir, nosilec sprememb,
sel in sporočilo hkrati. Moja DNK,
spominske celice v možganih,
povezave med njimi. Sporočilo,
ki se samouniči, ko ga poslušaš
Goži na vročih kamnih niso nevarni.
Nevaren je samo strah, neprevidna
naglica umika. In preveč sonca.
Če se ne vrnem, bodo oljke in trave,
robidnice, žajbljevi grmi in kače
Če se vrnem, bodo tudi enake,
samo jaz ne bom in med nami bodo
neubesedeni spomini okusov in vonjev.
Vsako uspešno prepoznavanje bo
vzrok za novo srečo. Ni se spremenilo,
vsaj to se ni spremenilo, v svojem bistvu je
ostalo enako, ker prepoznam te liste,
ker prepoznam močan vonj zelišč,
ker je morje še slano in kamen
bel in grob.
Ne isto, enako. In če ni,
je enaka vsaj sled
sprememb, zapis, da je bil čas
tudi tukaj, da se je ustavil med nami
in napravil presledek v svoji pisavi.
Legla sem na zemljo, bila je mrzla,
mirna, negibna, zaprla sem oči in čakala,
da se nalezem njene modrosti, nehati,
ko je čas, prepustiti se. Zaprla sem oči.
Utišala misli. Samo ušesa
so ostala prizemljena. Zvoki praznega polja
in moje dihanje. Nato nenaden zvok,
kakor bi veter premaknil liste v krošnjah,
kakor da so krošnje polne in je spet poletje.
Odprla sem oči. Nad mano jata ptic selivk,
slišala sem gibe kril v letu.
Nepričakovani zvok odhoda in sprememb
me je razgalil. Vstala sem
počasi, kakor bi mi dlani kril dale
videti, ob meni, nenadoma, prehod.
Sparrow, Through a Hospital Window / Vrabec, skoz bolnišnično okno
I saw death
sit down beside him on the bed and take off her slippers.
His blood pressure dropped,
his face paled, as she lay down.
His eyes were frightened.
I flew out. As I did not
have a share in his life,
it was only right not to have a part
in his dying.
Half an hour later I returned
to pick up the bread crumbs
left over from lunch.Translated by the author with Ciaran O'Driscoll and Rose Aasen
Videl sem smrt,
kako je prisedla na posteljo in si sezula copate.
Pritisk mu je padel,
obraz je postal bel, ko je legla.
Odletel sem ven. Ker nisem imel
deleža pri njegovem življenju,
je bilo edino prav, da nimam deleža
pri njegovi smrti.
Čez pol ure sem se vrnil
po krušne drobtine,
ki so ostale od kosila.
Musei Capitolini / Musei Capitolini
On the flight home I have the window seat.
Across the aisle, father and son.
A young father, perhaps thirty years old, dark-haired, handsome,
the son six or seven years of age,
the same hair, fuller cheeks;
they play, Daddy tickles him, kisses
his cheeks, neck, shoulders and arms,
the boy laughs, laughingly
kissing him back: »Contrattacco, babbo!«
The father caresses his tummy – such tenderness
only a father and a son can share,
a tenderness even women know nothing of.
They are beautiful,
as statues in the Capitol museums
dug out from the garden of a Roman villa,
so resplendent,you want to touch them,
gods, nymphs, animals,
perfect in their own world.
NON TOCCARE! warns the museum guard,
the human touch sullies and destroys
what must last.
Is it possible to feel such tenderness for statues?
The hand of a father
not in Jupiter's temple
or above the clouds,
the time here has come to a standstill
(myself, and the book that says poetry
never stood a chance of standing
Cracks in the stone,
visible only to the attentive eye.
Something within me that cannot be at peace
with the past, a gracefulness that wounds, as does
the air that surrounds it, preventing any touch,
a museum of wrecks and remains,
a relief of a father kissing a son.Translated by the author and E. Underhill
Med poletom domov sedim ob oknu,
na drugi strani prehoda oče in sin,
oče mlad, star morda trideset, temnolas, lep,
sin star šest ali sedem let,
enakih las, polnejših lic;
igrata se, očka ga žgečka, poljublja
po licih, vratu, ramenih in rokah,
deček se smeje, med smehom
ga poljublja nazaj: »Contrattacco, babbo!«
Oče ga poboža po trebuhu – kolikšna nežnost,
kar si lahko delita le oče in sin,
o tej nežnosti tudi ženske nič ne vedo.
Tako lepa sta,
kakor kipi v kapitolinskih muzejih,
izkopani z vrtov rimske vile,
gladki in sijoči, da bi se jih dotaknil,
bogovi, nimfe, živali,
popolni v svojem svetu,
NON TOCCARE! opozori varuhinja muzeja,
dotikanje uniči in umaže,
kar mora trajati.
Je mogoče čutiti do kipov tolikšno nežnost?
Roko očeta, ki ga ni
v Jupitrovem templju
ali nad oblaki,
čas se je tu ustavil
(jaz in knjiga, ki pravi, da poezija
ni imela najmanjše možnosti
ostati zunaj zgodovine).
Razpoke v kamnu,
ki jih zazna le budno oko.
Nekaj v meni, kar se ne more pomiriti
s preteklostjo, milina, kjer enako rani
zrak, ki jo obkroža
in preprečuje dotik,
muzej razbitin in ostankov,
relief očeta, ki poljublja sina.