“People read poetry to meet themselves. To meet their true selves.”
was born 4 July 1941 in Zagreb and grew up in the Slovenian port city of Koper. He earned a Master’s degree in Art History at the University of Ljubljana. In 1964 he published his first poems in the influential journal Perspektive, where soon after he was named as an editor in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the authorities from shutting down the publication. Šalamun was arrested and briefly imprisoned following the publication in the journal of his poem “Duma 1964”. In 1966, his self-published first book of poems, Poker, propelled him onto the Slovenian and Yugoslav literary stage as a voice of his generation. In the late 1960s Šalamun became involved with the conceptual art group OHO, curating their first exhibitions in Slovenia and exhibiting as part of the group in exhibitions across Yugoslavia and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1970. In the early 1970s Šalamun was a resident at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and he would return frequently to the US until the end of his life: as a resident at various artist colonies (Yaddo, MacDowell); as a visiting professor at several US universities (the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Richmond, the University of Texas, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University, among others); and as a poet at countless readings and festivals across the US. In the late 1990s–early 2000s Šalamun served as Slovenian Cultural Attaché in New York City. During his lifetime he published over 50 books of poetry in Slovenian, and his work, translated into nearly 30 languages, has influenced several generations of poets around the world. His books in English translation include Druids (2019), Andes (2016), Justice (2015), On the Tracks of Wild Game (2012), The Blue Tower (2011), There’s the Hand and There’s the Arid Chair (2009), The Book for My Brother (2006), Row (2006), Poker (2003), A Ballad for Metka Krašovec (2001), Feast (2000), The Four Questions of Melancholy (1997) and Selected Poems (1988). Šalamun’s numerous awards include Slovenia’s Prešeren Award for his life's work and the Jenko Prize, the Njegoš Award in Montenegro, a Pushcart Prize in the USA, the European Poetry Prize from the city of Münster, and a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin residency. His first marriage—to the writer Maruša Krese, with whom he had two children, Ana and David—ended in divorce. In 1979 he married the painter Metka Krašovec. Šalamun died 27 December 2014.