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Every dead one has a name

Taja Kramberger

Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012.

Translated from the Slovenian by Špela Drovšek Zorko:
Every dead one has a name
Every dead one has a name,
only the names of the living make us falter.
Some names are impossible to utter
without a stammer and a fidget,
some can only be spoken
through allusion,
and some, mostly women’s,
are forbidden in these parts.
Every dead one has a name,
engraved in stone,
printed in obituary or directory,
but my name must be undermined,
every few years
soiled and substituted
with another one.
A decade ago
a high-ranking party official warned me:
Stay a poet, as long as there’s still time.
Still time?                      Time for what?
I have also become a social scientist
and an editor and an organiser
and a translator and an activist
and a university teacher.
Unbearable – all these things –
all trespasses of the old parcel borders
that were drawn by the dirty
fingers of fraternities.
I air all the rooms,
I ignore all the ratings,
I open all the valvelets.
And they have put me out in the cold –
like the dead.
But every dead one has a name.


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