Srečko Kosovel

Thursday Doors, October 1

For this week’s Thursday Doors we take a look at Križanke, which translates as crosswords. It is a splendid concert venue in my original hometown Ljubljana in Slovenia, which architect Jože Plečnik created next to a church and inside a courtyard of a former monastery.

In the photo above there is the entrance to the church. To the right there is the City Museum of Ljubljana (last photo below) and to the left there is the main entrance to the venue. Apart from a number of local artists, the concerts that I have experienced here range from Dog Eat Dog & Biohazard, Henry Rollins Band, Duran Duran, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, The Sugarcubes (with Bjork) to Nick Cave, Bobby McFerrin, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lou Reed, Manu Chao and a variety of world music artists at the annual Druga godba festival.

I don’t have any photos of the main theatre, which is open-air but has a roof, but I do have some from the other side of the wall. Those without a ticket used to sit all around the venue on benches, happy to have a smoke and a drink and a listen. True: some also seized a chance when the security were engaged elsewhere and climbed the fence. Not any more. The noise of the crowd and traffic outside could reach such levels that some “sensitive” performers demanded that not only the street closes for traffic but that people are prohibited from strolling outside as well. As you can imagine, this action spurred civil protests. Concert noise police: another thing that happens if you live long enough.

To conclude: first one of his poems in English (I let somebody else translate for a change) followed by the original, and then the Križanke church in its entirety.

A Small Coat
by Srečko Kosovel

Translated by Ana Jelnikar & Barbara Siegel Carlson

I would like to walk around
in a small coat of
words.

But hidden underneath should be
a warm, bright world.

What is wealth?
What is luxury?
For me it is this:
a small coat I have,
and this coat is like
no other.

Srečko Kosovel:
Majhen plašč

Jaz bi hodil
v majhnem plašču
besed.

Ali pod tem naj se skriva
topel, svetál svet.

Kaj je bogastvo?
Kaj je razkošje?
Zame je eno:
majhen plašč imam
in ta plašč ni nobenemu
podoben.

Photo: MM

For Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge.

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Poem from the board

There once was a board on my wall:

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It included many things, memories, places, each item deserving a special entry. Look, there is Trpanj and a little English town in the middle of nowhere, and postcards from A. and R. and one of a huge rock made of shells in Karpathos, which we first bought and then located the rock in nature and it was nowhere as huge as it appears, and the Kiss, and the little pin calling for 40 days without alcohol, which N. gave me for my 40th birthday and I didn’t see the zero and said: “Oh, four days, I can do that!”, and Jeanette, and Slavoj’s hand, and Mickey, and my tarok cards, and a very old cartoon from Mladina magazine saying “Sad ću ja turbo da uključim” (I’ll switch to turbo now), and poems: e.e., Kosovel, a short one on tango, and this one by Austrian poet, here in the original:

Ernst Jandl 

zweierlei handzeichen

ich bekreuzige mich

vor jeder kirche

ich bezwetschkige mich

vor jedem obstgarten

 

wie ich ersteres

tue weiss jeder katholik

wie ich letzteres tue

ich allein

I just found this poem translated into English by Peter Lach – Newinsky in his Word and image lab:

Two Kinds of Hand Signals

 

Before every church

I cross myself.

Before every orchard

I plum myself.

 

How I do the first:

every catholic knows.

How I do the second:

I alone.

But sometimes it happens that a poem really comes to life in a completely obscure little language, such as ours (close-up from the board, the postcard with the poem used to be distributed freely in a Ljubljana bookshop).

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