Boris A. Novak
(born in 1953) is a Slovene poet, playwright, translator, and essayist. He teaches Comparative Literature at the University of Ljubljana. In the name of International PEN he organized humanitarian help for refugees from the former Yugoslavia and writers from Sarajevo during the war. (He has expressed this horror in the tragedy in verses Cassandra based on the Troian myth.) In 2002 Novak was elected for the Vice-president of International PEN.
So far he has published 90 books, including the following volumes of poems: Still-Life-in-Verses (Stihožitje), 1977; Daughter of Memory (Hči spomina), 1981; 1001 Verses (1001 stih), 1983; Coronation (Kronanje), 1984; Cataclysm (Stihija), 1991; The Master of Insomnia (Mojster nespečnosti), 1995; Alba, 1999; Echo (Odmev), 2000; Glowing (Žarenje), 2003, Rites of Valediction (Obredi slovesa) 2005, and SPM: Small Personal Mythology (MOM: Mala Osebna Mitologija), 2007. He has also published handbooks of poetic forms Forms of the World (Oblike sveta), 1991, Forms of the Heart (Oblike srca), 1997, and Forms of the Spirit, 2016. Novak's opus magnum is the epos The Doors of No Return (Vrata nepovrata), 43.000 verses on 2.300 pages in 3 books (Maps of Nostalgia, 2014, The Time of Fathers, 2015, and Residencies of Souls, 2017). Novak writes poetry, plays and stories for children.
Novak's poetry is translated into many languages: in 1990 a bilingual Slovene-English poetry book Vrtnar tišine – The Gardener of Silence was published, in 1996 Poèmes chosis (Selected Poems) in French, a multilingual edition Absence in 1999, and a bilingual English-French choice of poems The Master of Insomnia – Le Maître de l'insomnie in 2003. The most important translation up to now is The Master of Insomnia: Selected Poems, published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2012 (Champaign, U. S. A. – London – Dublin).The first Croatian selection of poems Sveta svjetlost (The Sacred Light) appeared in 1996, followed by the translation of the poetry volume The Master of Insomnia in 1997 and SMS: Small Personal Mythology in 2011. The selected poems Baštovan stiha (The Gardener of Silence) were published in 2003 in Serbia, Záhradnik tícha (The Gardener of Silence) in Slovakia (2005), Krunisuvanje (The Coronation) in Macedonia (2008), Dlaneno platno (The Palm Linen) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011), and Zaostavština (The Heritage) in Montenegro (2014). The tragedy in verses Cassandra was translated into Russian in 2013.
Novak translates poetry and prose from French (S. Mallarmé, P. Valéry, P. Verlaine, E. Jabès), ancient Provencal (Troubadours), Dutch (Paul van Ostaijen, Monika van Paemel), as well as American, English and Irish poetry (S. Heaney) and literature written in South Slav languages (Josip Osti). In 2001 he has published a huge anthology Modern French Poetry (more than 800 pages), and in 2003 the first anthology of Provencal troubadours in Slovene.
Novak received several national and international awards for his work. In Slovenia he is a recipient of the Award of the Presheren's Fund (1984), Jenko's (1995) and Župančič's Award for poetry (2015), Sovre's award for his translation of Mallarmé's poetry (1990), and the Golden Sign of the Scientific and Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences for his theoretical work (1998). International Board of Books for Young Readers (IBBY) has included Novak's fairy tale The Little and the Big Moon on the Honour list of the best stories in 1998. The Association of Writers of Bosnia and Herzegovina has given him the international award Bosanski stechak for his literary opus in 2000. He is a double knight of the French Republic (Le Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques, 2008, and Le Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 2011), a corresponding member of the French poetry academy Mallarmé and an associate member of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts.