The Four Questions of Melancholy

The Four Questions of Melancholy

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Author: Tomaž Šalamun

Editor: Christopher Merrill

Translator: Michael Biggins

Publisher: White Pine Press (1997)

A large and important collection by one of Eastern Europe's major contemporary poets.

"The four questions of melancholy, like the four directions of the wind, change with each telling. Hence the sheer variety of forms Šalamun employs. Here are surrealist lists, Whitmanic catalogues, sonnets, New York School-style improvisations. ‘Poetry is a parallel process to spiritual development,’ he said in an interview. ‘As in religion, you are trained how to be with the world as long as you can endure it.’ And what is remarkable about Šalamun is his willingness to follow the language to the border beyond which lie madness and suicide. ‘Why does the thread hold together?’ he asks in ‘Are Angels Green?’ Because, as he has discovered, sometimes language behaves ‘like a dolphin, it is pure grace, you just follow grace, and you have this feeling of water and light.’"

–Christopher Merrill