Burning tongues

What is half an hour

What is half an hour
If everything is halved.
An apple, a life
And the path seen only by you.

Half a little bird flies by
And half a memory
Appears and dissolves
And half a mother and father.

I learned to
Lose and in loss
To call forth the lost
With a blind word.

A poem cannot do any more.
To fall where the power that gradually
Heals its own wound appears.
Do you know it, love?


Publication Date : 14 Nov 2022


Pages: 224
Size: 234 x 156mm

‘Collection of poems by Slovenia’s leading poet and a leading voice in the new generation of post-Communist poets from central Europe. Šteger will be a keynote speaker for Slovenia at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair.’ – Caroline Sanderson, New Titles: Non-fiction, November 2022,

The Bookseller, on Burning Tongues: New & Selected Poems

‘Aleš Šteger is a poet of the mutable world, “emptied of solidity”, writing “between/ The time of the word/ And the time/ When/ A word/Is devoured”. Emerging in the aftermath of the wars that broke former Yugoslavia into many countries, Šteger has become one of the most significant European poets of the new century. In his hands it is as if poetry were giving up its last secrets, “when books don’t open to speak but to whisper”, and metaphors are “instantly dispersed by a galactic wind”. His language slips through fissures of time and space, where, for example, “Hayden plays his saxophone in the Hotel Europa Regina” and all manner of ordinary things become objects of cosmic wonderment: bread and knives, shoes, seahorses, toothpicks, earrings and paperclips. We are fortunate to have these selections from five of his books and also new poems, translated beautifully by Brian Henry. More than a new Selected, this is a gift to the English language and a bridge between worlds.’ – Carolyn Forché

‘And what if, just as you open one of those rare, thrilling books in which a terrific foreign poet is carried into English by a terrific poet-translator, the poets tell you, “You have five minutes / Until I turn out the lights.” Better get going, reader. In this long-awaited Selected Poems, Aleš Šteger imagines the poet (which is to say, you, everyone) as a figure of disappearance, slipping through cracks, stepping through two doors at once, turning into quotation, becoming a word, vanishing into a wood, finding a world in which objects – a walnut, an egg, shoes – are awake and looking back, drawing, maybe dragging the poet into a drama that we suddenly see has always been shared. Just so, in a Šteger poem, a piece of meat stuck between the teeth can be linked to revolution and “Whoever thinks hope misses it.” Although Šteger’s poems have that lightness about them that Italo Calvino so admired, they can be, you’ll soon see, devastating. Šteger’s work has earned a huge international audience so that while you’ve been reading this little paragraph, this book has gone into yet another edition.’ – Forrest Gander