The Book of Bodies - Aleš Šteger - translated by Brian Henry
$17.00, ISBN 978-1-945680-52-6
Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Bodies directly follows—and builds on and veers from—The Book of Things. The 50 poems in The Book of Things focus on such everyday objects as umbrellas, chairs, and candles, and in so doing illuminate the human condition, particularly its propensity for violence, deception, and forgetting. The 50 poems in The Book of Bodies manage to be simultaneously more and less restrictive: half the poems are prose poems (of five paragraphs each) that roam across personal experience, human history (individual and collective), and the natural world to unlock intellectual and emotional connections; the other half are narrow stanza-less poems that focus on a single word. These poems have a sinuous, almost vaporous quality on the page—lines so thin that they serve as a response to the prose that dominates the first half of the book. Both types of poems in The Book of Bodies are essential to Šteger’s understanding of the world.
“What The Book of Bodies opens before us is not a cemetery but a radical museum of a human soul, a private alphabet illuminated by the mystery of birth and death. In the three distinct and beautifully crafted poetic sequences, Aleš Šteger, one of Europe's most exciting and innovative poets, takes us through the inner workings of loss - both, of people and of words. With his polyphonic intelligence, empathetic irony, and sensual sophistication, Šteger leaves us speechless, yet totally renewed in how we think and speak. He does something that very few living poets know and dare to do: he addresses mystery. This address is astonishing in its directness and tenderness.”
—Valzhyna Mort, author of Music for the Dead and Resurrected
“Esteemed American readers, Aleš Šteger is the real thing! He is the poet of inimitable gifts! He is one of the best Eastern European poets of his generation! It is the truth: Šteger is a marvelous voice, one that takes some of the playfulness of his Yugoslavian compatriots Vasko Popa and Tomaž Šalamun to the whole new level.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
Slovenian writer Aleš Šteger has published eight 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 Rožanc 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. Four of his books have been published in English: The Book of Things, which won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award; Berlin; the novel Absolution; and Above the Sky Beneath the Earth. 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 is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Permanent State. He co-edited the international magazine Verse from 1995 to 2018 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), Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA, 2015), and Aleš Šteger’s Above the Sky Beneath the Earth (White Pine, 2019) and Berlin (Counterpath, 2015). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, the New York Times, Poetry, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, and many other places. His poetry and translations have received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, 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.