Niko Grafenauer

1. 8. 2015

Niko Grafenauer

The poet, translator, essayist and publicist Niko Grafenauer was born on 5 December 1940 in Ljubljana and studied comparative literature and literary theory at the Faculty of Arts of the University Ljubljana. After graduation, he worked as a freelance writer for several years, and afterwards as an editor at the publishing house Mladinska knjiga, editor-in-chief of the magazines Problemi and Ampak and later on as editor-in-chief and director of the magazine and the publishing house Nova revija.

He began writing at an early age and published his first volume of poetry entitled Večer pred praznikom in 1962. He further developed his vision of modernist poetry in the volumes Stiska jezika (1965), Štukature (1975), Palimpsesti (1984), Palimpsesti (1984), Izbrisi (1989), Odtisi (1999) and Nočitve (2005) and the collections Pesmi (1979), Samota (1990), Dihindih (2000). His poems have been translated into several world languages ​​and published in magazines and anthologies. Grafenauer is one of the most important Slovenian poets of the second half of the 20th century.

He also wrote several volumes of poetry and stories for children (especially his character Pedenjped is very popular) and thus he is also considered as one of the most important Slovenian authors of children’s literature. He also published a number of analytical studies on poetry, which he collected in the 2001 book Odisej v labirintu. He has also made a name for himself as a translator—especially from German. He translated, inter alia, works by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Friedrich Hölderlin, Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Paul Celan, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke. In an 1992 article published in the newspaper Razgledi he wrote the following about translating:

Translating is not merely an encounter with a certain poetic text that appears in front of the translator as an isolated philological and aesthetic phenomenon, but also the context in which    the text lives out its individual life; it cannot be overlooked that this puts the text into the historical continuity without which the world would stop and the word would die.

Grafenauer received several awards for his work, including the Prešeren Award, the Levstik Award, the Kajuh Award, the Župančič Award and the Jenko Award. For his work as a translator, he received the highest award for Slovenian translators: the Sovre Award. In 2009 he was accepted into the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

by Janko Trupej


Grafenauer, Niko.  <>. Accessed 31 July 2015.

Grafenauer, Niko. Med mimesis in poiesis. Razgledi: tako rekoč intelektualni tabloid, 20 November 1992. 7–8.

Župančičeve nagrade 2014. <>. Accessed 31. July 2015.

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