Ugly Duckling Presse

Look Back, Look Ahead: The Selected Poems
Look Back, Look Ahead: The Selected Poems

Srecko Kosovel

translated by Barbara Siegel Carlson, Ana Jelnikar

Poetry | $17 $15
"the eternal poet of total existence" — Tomaz SalamunIn his short life, Srecko Kosovel experimented with a wide variety of styles—impressionist, symbolist, expressionist, futurist, Dadaist, and surrealist—leaving over 1,000 poems as well as prose writings, essays and vignettes totaling several hundred pages. Kosovel’s poetry has been translated into many languages. Look Back, Look Ahead is the first American edition of Kosovel’s selected poetry.Eastern European Poets Series #26.

About the Author

Srecko Kosovel
Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926) was born near Trieste and was raised in the Karst, a desolate region of rockwork in Slovenia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following the outbreak of World War I, his parents sent him to school in Ljubljana, where he began to write, experimenting with a wide variety of styles—impressionist, symbolist, expressionist, futurist, Dadaist, and surrealist. He studied at the University of Ljubljana, became active in the literary world and founded a literary review (Beautiful Vida). In 1925 he prepared a manuscript for publication called The Golden Boat, alluding to the Bengali poet Rabindranth Tagore, but it was subsequently lost and never published in its original form. In 1926 he died of meningitis at the age of 22, leaving over 1,000 poems as well as prose writings, essays and vignettes totaling several hundred pages. Kosovel’s poetry has been translated into several languages including French, Italian, German, Russian, Czech, Croatian, Serbian and Catalan. An early modernist, he is considered one of Slovenia’s foremost poets of the 20th century.

About the Translator

Barbara Siegel Carlson is the author of a chapbook Between This Quivering (Coreopsis Press Poetry Award). Her poetry has been published in many journals including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poetry East, Asheville Poetry Review and Louisville Review. A chapbook of translations (co-translated with Ana Jelnikar) of Kosovel’s poetry Bitter Without Meaning has appeared in Mid-American Review in 2009. An earlier chapbook of translations Faces of Man (Poetry Miscellany Translation Series) appeared in 1991. Other translations have appeared in The Literary Review, Natural Bridge, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod and Poetry International. Carlson participated in the Golden Boat International Poetry Translation workshop in Slovenia in 2005-6. She lives in Carver, MA and teaches at Thayer Academy.

Ana Jelnikar is a Slovene translator now completing her PhD at the University of London. Her focus is on exploring the links between Rabindranath Tagore and Srečko Kosovel. Her most recent translations of poetry collections include Iztok Geister's Hymn to the Bush Tree and Taja Kramberger's Mobilizations. Translations have appeared in Verse, Southern Humanities Review, Third Coast, and The American Poetry Review. She is the translator of the first Slovenian edition of C. G. Jung's Man and His Symbols, as well as six collections of contemporary Slovenian poetry, published in both America and Slovenia. Her most recent publication is an anthology of Six Slovenian Poets (Arc Publications 2006), which she co-translated with Stephen Watts and Kelly Lenox Allan. Jelnikar is one of the founders and organizers of the annual Golden Boat International Poetry Translation Workshop in Slovenia. Scholarly work is forthcoming in North America.

Advance Praise

Look Back, Look Ahead is lyrical, humorous and experimental.—The Prague Post
There is a bold earnestness to Kosovel's poems in Look Back, Look Ahead that seems simultaneously like a bygone time and the expressions of an effusive, eccentric friend. Collectively, the poems defy categorization. Over here he sounds like the eighth century Taoist poet Wang Wei, but on the next page he sounds like what Kafka might have been like as a poet. You might even make the associate to Baudelaire's prose poems. The breadth of Kosovel's poetic registers is only matched by the resourcefulness of his prolific, thrilling insights.—THE LITERARY REVIEW
Srecko Kosovel and Rainer Maria Rilke couldn’t be more different, but they aren't, they're brothers. They died the same year. They worked and lived eight miles apart. One in Duino Castle, the other in Karst. 'Come, you night-wounded man, so I can kiss our heart,' screamed Srecko Kosovel, the greatest Slovenian poet of the twentieth century. At twenty-two, he immolated himself with the torch of his own poems. To read him is like watching Van Gogh's last paintings, to stare at Celan's last drops of life. And yet, he's the threshold, the triumphal arch to this small nation's destiny, the eternal poet of total existence.—Tomaz Salamun