Aleš Šteger

Ales Steger Headshot

Aleš Šteger was born in 1973 in Ptuj (p-too-ee), Slovenia, where he grew up, then part of the former Yugoslavia ruled by Tito, which gained its independence when he was 18. He published his first collection in 1995 at the age of 22, and was immediately recognised as a key voice in the new generation of post-Communist poets not only in Slovenia but throughout central Europe. 

He has published nine books of poetry, three novels and two books of essays. A Chevalier des Artes et Lettres in France and a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, he received the 1998 Veronika Prize for the best Slovenian poetry book, the 1999 Petrarch Prize for young European authors, the 2007 Rožanc Award for the best Slovenian book of essays, the 2016 International Bienek Prize and the 2022 International Spycher Prize. His work has been translated into over 15 languages, including Chinese, German, Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, and Spanish.

Six of his books have been published in English: The Book of Things (BOA Editions, US, 2010), which won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award and the 2011 Best Literary Translation into English Award from AATSEEL; the collection of lyric essays, Berlin (Counterpath, US, 2015); the book of prose poems, Essential Baggage (Equipage, 2016); the novel Absolution (Istros Books, 2017); Above the Sky Beneath the Earth (White Pine Press, US, 2019); and The Book of Bodies (White Pine Press, US, 2022). His retrospective, Burning Tongues: New & Selected Poems, was published by Bloodaxe Books in the UK in 2022.

The word waiting

-Translated from Slovenian, from The Book of Bodies (2010) by Brian Henry

The word waiting
Under the harrow.
The earth is waiting
For the grain
To be sown.
It sprouts.
The wheat is waiting
For the moons.
The flour for weeks
For the yeast.
One, two days
And the mouth
Goes back on its word.
A musty gold coin
In the bread.
The teeth
Stop grinding
For a moment.
The hidden
Shadow of a mountain
Reveals the field.
It is a secret
The waiting is slower
For the fall
Into silence
As one
Climbs up
The word.
Hungry and thirsty,
It arrives
Its story
About its adventures
Is food
For the wind.


Aleš Šteger and Ilya Kaminsky interview by Sandeep Parmar” by Sandeep Parmar. Ledbury Poetry. 29 July 2019.

“The City and the Writer: In Ljubljana with Aleš Šteger” by Nathalie Handal. Words Without Borders. 17 October 2016.

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