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Affable Beasts: An Interview with Michael Thomas Taren on Tomaž Šalamun

“This is to say that Tomaž’s exuberance was always off the handle. He always thought his legacy would be found in America. America grafted onto his encyclopedia of references. He loved to write in Starbucks, especially that of Union Square. He bought Starbucks every day when he was in America and brooked no criticism of that company. Tomaž liked America quite a lot. At either periphery of the Atlantic he’s viewed as something childlike and mystical. In his home country it’s a split between reverence and annoyance. He became both a trophy case and Modernity’s whipping boy.”

Tomaž Šalamun: A Love List of Lines

Since Tomaž Šalamun’s death at the end of last year, I have been living with his poetry, walking around with it, running my hands back and forth across its lines, coming to find in its voice a friend, even though I never took a class with him, never spoke a word to him, and hardly even know about his life. He is the kind of poet who has this effect. Many tributes were erected when he passed. André Naffis-Sahely wrote a moving obituary at The Paris Review, in which he follows Šalamun’s poetry along its “tightrope between ecstasy and despair, the rational and the irrational, the sublime and the horrible.”