What I have learned about poetry in Slovenia

If you have been following my blog, you will be aware that my current jewellery projects is focusing on identity and culture and for me the recurring theme is the culture of the identity of words (stories, poems, books, tweets, blogs, phrases, words, everything and anything wordy).

For the third part of the project (1st being a study into our personal identities and the 2nd our cultural identities) we have been set up with students in The Academy of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia. If you want to see more about this project head over here: Border Crossings and you can see what all the other students are up to. The aim for this project is for me to design and create a fully finished and wearable brooch that represents an aspect of Slovenian culture based on my research,with the making skills that I have accumulated so far.

I have narrowed down my research from looking at all of the wordy things in Slovenia to looking specifically at their poetry.


So, this post is about all thing wordy in Slovenia, especially the poetry. Enjoy!



Literature is a well-loved and truly valued past time in Slovenia. From my conversations with Slovenian students I have learned that authors tend to have other forms of income as writing isn’t always the best way of earning a living (which i’m sure us Brits could say as well), however it is considered more of a hobby and less of an art as we see it. Credit is still given to the best in the fields and it is still a celebrated form of expression but the impression I got was that it is viewed as a pastime and not a full life calling, maybe the Slovenians have a more realistic view of the world.


There are various literary festivals happening in Slovenia, celebrating their love for words and stories:

Vilenica International Literary Festival – “a gathering of poets, prose writers, dramatists and essayists organized by the Slovene’s Writers Association in collaboration with the Cultural Centre Vilenica from Sežana. The festival takes place annually in Lipica and at other venues in Slovenia.” The festival is focused on awarding prizes to some of the best up and coming wordsmiths around Europe. It takes place in the a Karst Cave around the second week of September.

Living Literature Festival – “Living Literature Festival is a literary and musical event staged in front of ŠKUC’s headquarters at 21 Stari trg in Ljubljana. The festival presents local and foreign writers, poets and musicians.”

Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration –  “The Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration has been organised since 1993 by Cankarjev dom Culture and Congress Centre in cooperation with the Illustration Section of the Union of Slovene Fine Arts Associations (ZDSLU) with the aim of promoting book illustration as a fine arts discipline. Slovene book illustration: The long and rich history and tradition of Slovene book illustration started with Protestant books and continued with the work of Slovene modernists who reached another summit at the end of the 19th century. Slovene book illustration production remained rich and strong even during the Second World War. Afterwards, with the development of vivid publishing activities, Slovene book illustration become internationally recognised. The Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration provides a glimpse of these endeavours by giving an overview of the latest book illustration achievements in Slovenia.”

Trnovo Tercets – “In 1994, while located at Trnovo in Ljubljana, the KUD France Prešeren began collaborating with the Slovene Writers’ Association in the now widely-acclaimed Trnovo Tercets international festival of poetry. The best-known Slovene poets of several generations have given readings of their poetry at Tercets, and since 2000 the event has also featured prominent poets from abroad. Readings are held on three consecutive nights, each of which features three Slovene or foreign poets (around 45 minutes each).”

Fabula Festival of Stories – “The underlying concept of Fabula has been to promote readership and the culture of reading in Slovenia. The main focus of the festival is no longer on short stories but on storytelling in general; in addition to book presentations and evening readings, the festival features screenings of films adapted from short stories.”

Pranger Festival – “The Pranger Festival, a meeting of poets, critics and poetry translators, has been organised every Summer since 2004 by the KUD Pranger Cultural Association. The festival is named after the pranger, a medieval pillory or public humiliation device which was set up in the centre of villages in this region. It took the name pranger since its concept is to disclose the literary word to the public, to literary critics and to theoreticians, translators as well as readers and other writers.”

Days of Poetry and Wine Festival – “The Days of Poetry and Wine Festival is a festival that hosts the younger generation of poets from all over the world. Up to 2009 it took place in Medana (a village in Goriška Brda next to the Italian border) during the last week in August, basically turning the village into the poetry capital of Europe for a week. In 2010 the 14th edition of the festival moves to Ptuj, a historical town of Roman origin in eastern Slovenia. The festival was initiated in 1995 by the Študentska založba Publishing House, Ljubljana. It has since expanded to offer more than just poetry and wine: it features numerous concerts, a selection of recent Slovene films, contemporary dance performances, street theatre, visual and spatial interventions, a programme for children … Among its goals are to examine intersections between poetry and other art forms and to provide an opportunity for discussions between authors and local and international publishers on different topics. A comprehensive multilingual volume of the participants’ poetry and a special festival bottling of vintage wines accompanies each festival.”

Slovene Book Days – “Along with some 30 countries around the globe, Slovenia celebrates World Book Day every year on 23 April.” In 2012 Ljubljana was named a UNESCO world book capital.

Slovene Book Fair – “The Slovene Book Fair is organised every November by the Association of Book Publishers at Cankarjev dom Culture and Congress Centre in Ljubljana.”

Transgenerations Festival of Youth Creativity – “Launched in 1984, this annual multimedia festival comprehensively presents the best Slovene secondary school art productions in the field of theatre, dance, video, photography, design, fine arts, rock music, and literature, which relate to social, existential, political, ecological, and identity issues of youth at the beginning of the new millennium.”

Sanje (‘Dreams’) Festival – “Sanje (‘Dreams’) Festival was initiated by Sanje (‘Dreams’) Publishing House in 2002. Held each year at Zvezda Park in Ljubljana city centre, it features concerts of folk, jazz, rock and other kinds of music, literary readings, children’s programmes, theatre performances and puppet shows for adults.”

Word’s Eye – “Established in 1995, Oko besede (Word’s Eye) is an annual traditional meeting of Slovene writers who write for children and young people.”


The first known document to be written in Slovene is from the 10th century.

The bible was first translated into Slovenian in 1584.

“Slovenian poetry as individual lyrical expression emerged only as late as the beginning of the 19th century – with Romanticism.”  Poetry, as we know it today, began in Slovenia in the early 19th century.



The most famous/well-known poet in Slovenia is France Prešeren. He is known as the Shakespeare of Slovenia. He was a romantic poet in the early 18th century. He is considered the Slovene National Poet. His poem Zdravjica (The Toast) is the most well known amongst Slovenians as the seventh stanza of the poem is their national anthem.

The vintage, friends, is over,

And here sweet wine makes, once again,

Sad eyes and hearts recover,

Puts fire into every vein.

Drowns dull care


And summons hope out of despair.

To whom with acclamation

And song shall we our first toast give?

God save our land and nation

And all Slovenes where’er they live,

Who own the same

Blood and name,

And who one glorious Mother claim.

Let thunder out of heaven

Strike down and smite our wanton foe!

Now, as it once had thriven,

May our dear realm in freedom grow.

May fall the last

Chains of the past

Which bind us still and hold us fast!

Let peace, glad conciliation,

Come back to us throughout the land!

Towards their destination

Let Slavs henceforth go hand-in-hand!

Thus again

Will honour reign

To justice pledged in our domain.

To you, our pride past measure,

Our girls! Your beauty, charm and grace!

There surely is no treasure

To equal maidens of such race.

Sons you’ll bear,

Who will dare

Defy our foe no matter where.

Our hope now, our to-morrow –

The youths – we toast and toast with joy.

No poisonous blight or sorrow

Your love of homeland shall destroy.

With us indeed

You’re called to heed

Its summons in this hour of need.

God’s blessing on all nations,

Who long and work for that bright day,

When o’er earth’s habitations

No war, no strife shall hold its sway;

Who long to see

That all men free

No more shall foes, but neighbours be.

At last to our reunion –

To us the toast! Let it resound,

Since in this gay communion

By thoughts of brotherhood we’re bound

May joyful cheer

Ne’er disappear

From all good hearts now gathered here.

The highest Slovenian prize for artistic achievements, the Prešeren Award, is named after him. All children are taught about his poetry in schools and are taught to memorize and recite the national anthem. Preseren’s other most well known poem is the Water Man, a ballad based on the Slovenian folklorian tale about the best known of all the tales of the River Man is the tale of the beautiful and reckless girl of Ljubljana, who accepts the invitation to dance with the River Man. Preseren’s effigy is also displayed upon the 1000 tolar note and the Slovenian 2 euro coin.

For more famous Slovenians displayed on the tolar banknotes visit this link.

Information Gathered from:

Conversations with students on Border Crossings

Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia

Poetry International 


Chloe out.


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