Ugly Duckling Presse

Moss & Silver
Moss & Silver

Jure Detela

translated by Raymond Miller, Tatjana Jamnik

Poetry | $18 $14
Spring 2018
Jure Detela—poet, activist, and mystic—was a key figure in the vibrant avant-garde movement that defined Slovenian culture in the 1980s. The forty-four poems of Moss & Silver anticipate the radical environmentalism and animal rights activism of the 21st century while engaging in a passionate dialogue with wide array of poets from William Wordsworth to Kobayashi Issa. Although he often railed against the “defenders of Slovene [traditional poetic] beauty” and “the tyranny of metaphor,” Detela was a meticulous craftsman who employed a stunning variety of rhythms and stanzaic forms.

Moss & Silver (Mah in srebro), originally published in 1983 by Obzorja (Maribor), is the first book of Jure Detela's poems to appear in English. This bilingual edition has been translated by Raymond Miller with Tatjana Jamnik, and includes an introduction by Slovenian poet and critic Iztok Osojnik and a translator’s afterword by Raymond Miller.

Cover artwork by Mina Fina. Cover letterpressed at UDP.

Excerpt ˇ


For all the past and
everything that exists,
bodies will receive
hearts unrest,
and souls the anguish
that results from
memory’s feeble
power within
vigilant love for
alien consciousnesses,
until the ants
to deliver corpses
across the land.

Close ˆ

About the Author

Jure Detela
Jure Detela was born in Ljubljana in 1951. Although he was an important figure in the tumultuous avant garde movement that dominated Slovene culture in the 1980s, he nevertheless stood somewhat apart from its main currents. Detela was a true renaissance man: as a thinker, he was in many ways far ahead of his time, anticipating Derrida, Žižek, and others in his environmentalist activism and consistent critique of anthropomorphism; as a poet, he was widely read, and conducted an ongoing dialogue in his verse with an astounding array of poets from many different traditions—from the Greek classics and Japanese haiku masters to the English and German Romantics and French Decadents (even Emily Dickinson is addressed in one of his poems). He was also an accomplished critic and art historian. Jure Detela died in Ljubljana in 1992, from complications resulting from a hunger strike against the Yugoslav regime in Belgrade.

About the Translator

Raymond Miller
Raymond Miller received a doctorate in Slavic languages and literatures from Harvard University in 1980. He taught Russian language and literature at Bowdoin College in Maine for 30 years. He has written extensively on the history of Romanticism in East Central Europe, Slavic historical linguistics, and 19th century Russian literature, particularly Gogol and Dostoevsky. He is also an experienced translator; Moss and Silver represents his first published verse translation. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, he is an accomplished musician and songwriter, and writes articles on a variety of different historical topics. He is currently president of the Society for Slovene Studies.
Tatjana Jamnik
Tatjana Jamnik is a Slovene translator, poet and essayist. She is the director of the cultural society KUD Polica Dubova. Among her many publications are Brez (a verse collection, 2009) and a translation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris (2010).

Other Contributors

Iztok Osojnik
Iztok Osojnik was born in 1951 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of twenty nine books of poetry, including Married to Red (2014) and Kosovel and Seven Dwarfs (2016). His poetry, fiction, and essays have been published in thirty languages. Poetry collections available in English include Mister Today (Jacaranda Press, 2004), New and Selected Poems(Sampark, 2013), and Elsewhere (Pig Hog Press, 2013). Wagner (Sampark) is forthcoming in Summer 2017. He was a Cambridge Seminar on Modern English Literature Fellow in 2000 and a Goethe Insitut Fellow in 2002.

Advance Praise

Now I’m remembering why I love poetry. Inside these poems, dirt is clean—insect wings—a cold and bright-lit ringing sound—animals are not afraid—abrupt eternity—live forever, Jure Detela! — Cathy Wagner
At last, the voice of one of the most distinctive and influential Slovene poets of the late 20th century, Jure Detela, can be heard in English. Detela’s painterly eye and his gift for rendering visions of cosmic breadth may remind readers of Blake and Stevens, or of the boundless leaps of his compatriot and contemporary Tomaž Šalamun. Yet where a Šalamun poem is likely, at the last minute, to side-step, defuse, or subvert its own astral ambitions, Detela’s vision remains focused and coherent, just as the deep ecological strain that suffuses his poems is consistent and unrelenting. English-language readerships may find Detela’s work more compelling today than they would have during the poet’s brief lifetime.—Michael Biggins
Jure Detela’s deeply literary poems stand on the side of life in an era of unprecedented ecological and political disasters. His is a necessary ethical voice, an heir to his great exemplars, Issa and Wordsworth. —Edward Hirsch