This year’s Jenko Award for the best collection of poems will be given out to Ivo Svetina for his volume “Sfingin hlev” (Sphinx’s Stable) on Wednesday. In the collection, Svetina writes about the connections between the 1960s and the new millennium and its spiritually impoverished digital society.
Named after the poet Simon Jenko (1835-1869), the award for the best poetry collection for the previous two years has been awarded annually by the Slovenian Writers’ Association since 1986.
This year’s best volume consists of 50 poems, in which the author settles accounts with his past. Personal narration of experiences from youth focus more on the message than form, Svetina said at the presentation of his work.
The title motif of the Sphinx was taken from the Greek mythology, where it represents human subconsciousness. The author remembers with nostalgia the “golden generation” that lived under the motto “let’s be realists, let’s demand the impossible”.
Svetina remembers it as a beautiful time of the 1960s before the former Yugoslav president Tito’s letter of 1972, which heralded hard times. The first poem is set in “early spring, a few days before the letter”.
Denis Poniz, a literary historian, believes that Svetina’s new poetry differs from everything poetic he read recently. The lyric narration does not evade thought, it forms a diction perceived through emotions and mind, and on the other hand it shows clear pictures that had meaning in the past and still do.
Ivo Svetina was born in Ljubljana in 1948. A graduate in comparative literature and literary theory, he has headed the Slovenian Theatre Museum from 1998. He was awarded various awards for his work in theatre and poetry, including three Grum Awards for achievements in theatre.