In the village in eastern Slovenia where I grew up, everything is a border. You drive 30 kilometers and nobody speaks your language anymore. It is a meeting place of the Slovenian, German, Croatian and Hungarian, but also other cultures, languages, traditions and fears. As far as I look back, language for me was never something self-evident. Language is not only a tool. One must search permanently for language, strive actively for it. Language is the key, and searching for it is always unpredictable, sometimes even dangerous, and always closely connected with my destiny.
In the beginning there was poetry. I was writing poems, and over and over again I made discoveries about how many different forms poetry can have. Over the years I started writing poetry also in the form of novels and stories, in books for young adults, in travelogues and essays, in numerous collaborations with painters, musicians, photographers, theater makers and film directors. Readers tend to say that my writing has many different faces. In my eyes, my books and my other artistic projects are very strongly connected to each other and, regardless of their form, compose a unified world.
I love crossing artistic boundaries. I love doing new things which I was only dreaming about until recently. I love being awakened in language. I hope that you too are vigilant seekers, that you too feel attracted by what is open and alive and that you will encounter on this web site a fellow wanderer on your journey into the unpredictable.
Aleš Šteger, born 1973 in Ptuj, lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, novels, and essays as well as several books for young adults. He also works as an editor, translator and initiator of artistic and cultural events.
He is among the most translated Slovenian authors. His works have been published in internationally renowned magazines and newspapers like The New Yorker, Boston Review, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, TLS, and Lettre International. The Bavarian Academy of Arts awarded him with the prestigious Horst Bienek Prize for poetry in 2016, calling him “one of the most original European poets writing today.”
Aleš’s work reaches out to various fields of artistic expression. In 2017, his large-scale installation The Pyramid of Exiled Poets appeared at the International Kochi-Muziris Arts Biennale in India. He has written librettos for composers Uroš Rojko and Vito Žuraj, and collaborated with the Austrian double bass player Peter N. Gruber, the band Godalika, and the accordion player Jure Tori. He has collaborated with the visual artist Dušan Fišer, and he wrote the texts for Peter Zach’s documentary Beyond Boundaries.
In 2012, he started a project called Written on Site. Every year, he makes writing-performances at different places around the globe. The first Written on Site performance happened in Ljubljana (Slovenia), followed by Fukushima (Japan), Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico), Belgrade (Serbia), Kochi (India), Solowki (Russia), Shanghai (China), and Bautzen (Germany). You can read a few excerpts from the texts on this web page.
Aleš translates from German and Spanish. He has translated or co-translated books by Pablo Neruda, Ingeborg Bachmann, Gottfried Benn, Peter Huchel, Olga Orózco, César Vallejo, Ko Un, and Walter Benjamin.
Šteger has received numerous national and international prizes and honors, among them the prize of the Slovenian book fair for the best first book in 1996, The Veronika Prize for the best poetry collection of 1998, the Rožanc Prize for the best collection of essays of 2007, the international poetry prize Književno žezlo awarded by the Macedonian Writers Association in 2006, the Best Translated Book Award in USA in 2011 and the prize of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages in the USA in 2011 (both together with the translator Brian Henry), the Horst Bienek Prize in 2016, and the prize for lifetime achievement from the city of Ptuj in 2017.
He has received numerous international stipends and fellowships, among them Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany (2001), the Abraham Woursell Foundation stipend in the USA (2002), the DAAD Künstlerprogramm fellowship (2004), the Recollets Paris stipend (2009), the fellowship of Argauer Literaturhaus Lenzburg, Switzerland (2013), the Villa Marguarite Yourcenar fellowship, and Saint-Jans-Cappel in France (2015).
He has received the title Chevalier des Artes et Lettres from the French state. He is a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts and a member of the German Academy for language and literature, a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Arts and a corresponding member of the Academy of Science and Literature in Mainz, Germany.