Ljubljana, as the capital and geographical centre of Slovenia, has been a regional centre from the Roman times to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and now is one of the capitals of Middle Europe. Thanks to its convenient location, standing on the meeting point of three different cultures, it is familiar with the Romanic, Germanic and Slavic worlds.
Slovenian people see themselves as a nation of writers and readers, partly because art and culture have been the most important element in the construction of contemporary Slovenian identity. As one of the main centres of cultural production in the Slovenian language, many famous Slovenian writers have lived and written in Ljubljana. During the period of Romanticism, the renowned Slovenian poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) put the Slovenian language on the literary map. Other famous poets are Simon Gregorčič, Janez Menart, Alojz Gradnik, Srečko Kosovel, Gregor Strniša, Neža Maurer and Tomaž Šalamun.
Slovenia has one of the biggest networks of public libraries in the world and therefore prose and fiction is still very popular with Slovenian readers. Children in elementary school learn about Ivan Cankar, Josip Jurčič, Ivan Tavčar, Prežihov Voranc, Vladimir Bartol and many others. The most renowned contemporary Slovenian writers include Miha Mazzini, Drago Jančar, Suzana Tratnik and Feri Lainšček. Although the publishing industry has a small market, with a limited number of readers of the language, Ljubljana currently houses a vibrant literary scene with many young writers presently at work. There are regular cultural events and readings - literary production is as big as ever.
'I like to use the languages of the various arts – literature, music, theatre...I think that is the spirit of the modern global era.'- poet Ivan Hristov spoke to SJ Fowler of 3AM magazine about the evolution of the contemporary Bulgarian poetry scene.
Cosmin Borza discusses the work of Romania's 'Generation 2000' poets, including Radu Vancu and Claudiu Komartin in an essay at Asymptote.
At the Sofia Poetics festival, which was organised by Word Express participant Ivan Hristov, Scottish based poet Ryan Van Winkle caught up with fellow festival guests SJ Fowler and Tomasz Rózycki. To hear Fowler and Rózycki discussing their work and reading some of their poetry, listen to the Scottish Poetry Library podcast here.