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Pumpkin on the Hot Roof of the World

Documentary by Nejc Saje and Jeffrey Young


Thursday November 11, 20:00
 Location: Factory, Künstlerhaus Wien,  Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Wien

Austrian Premiere |Documentary 75 min. 2019  Slovenia | English language
The film tells the story of legendary Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, one of the most unique and influential poets of the last  half-century.

Film talk Nejc Saje, Amalija Maček (Ljubljana), Univ.-Prof. Mag. Monika Rinck (University of Applied Arts, Vienna)



"I’ve got the fire, and if I’m lucky, others will get this fire through me."  Tomas Salamun

By exploring Šalamun’s life and quest as a poet, the film raises crucial questions about the nature of freedom, creativity, and love. Tomaž Šalamun reminds us why poets have always been central to the human story. He believed passionately in the power of poetry to liberate the human spirit and bring people closer to themselves and to each other. During his life Šalamun published over 50 books of poems. His work, translated into over 30 languages, continues to inspire countless poets, students, and readers around the world. Šalamun came of age as an artist during the revolutionary 1960s, and his diverse body of work is infused with the spirit of radical freedom that confronts head-on the conventions of the status quo. For more than 50 years he dedicated his life to poetry with single-minded focus, regardless of the consequences. The film follows Šalamun at home and abroad during 2012–2013—in what would be the last active years of his life. Following Šalamun's death in December 2014, the directors expanded the scope of the film to include nearly 30 interviews with close family members and other poets, artists and former students who knew him well. Through a mix of conversations, rare archival material and numerous examples of the poet reading his work, the film reflects on the formative experiences of Šalamun’s life and shares his unique insights into poetry and the creative process. What emerges is an intimate, multi-layered portrait of an artist who lived for the sake of art and who worked tirelessly to spark creativity in others.



"People read poetry to meet themselves. To meet their true selves." Tomas Salamun



Tomaž Šalamun
was born 4 July 1941 in Zagreb and grew up in the Slovenian port city of Koper. He earned a Master’s degree in Art History at the University of Ljubljana. In 1964 he published his first poems in the influential journal Perspektive, where soon after he was named as an editor in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the authorities from shutting down the publication. Šalamun was arrested and briefly imprisoned following the publication in the journal of his poem “Duma 1964”. In 1966, his self-published first book of poems, Poker, propelled him onto the Slovenian and Yugoslav literary stage as a voice of his generation. In the late 1960s Šalamun became involved with the conceptual art group OHO, curating their first exhibitions in Slovenia and exhibiting as part of the group in exhibitions across Yugoslavia and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1970. In the early 1970s Šalamun was a resident at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and he would return frequently to the US until the end of his life: as a resident at various artist colonies (Yaddo, MacDowell); as a visiting professor at several US universities (the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Richmond, the University of Texas, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University, among others); and as a poet at countless readings and festivals across the US. In the late 1990s–early 2000s Šalamun served as Slovenian Cultural Attaché in New York City. During his life time he published over 50 books of poetry in Slovenian, and his work, translated into nearly 30 languages, has influenced several generations of poets around the world. His books in English translation include Druids (2019), Andes (2016), Justice (2015), On the Tracks of Wild Game (2012), The Blue Tower (2011), There’s the Hand and There’s the Arid Chair (2009), The Book for My Brother (2006), Row (2006), Poker (2003), A Ballad for Metka Krašovec (2001), Feast (2000), The Four Questions of Melancholy (1997) and Selected Poems (1988). Šalamun’s numerous awards include Slovenia’s Prešeren Award for his life's work and the Jenko Prize, the Njegoš Award in Montenegro, a Pushcart Prize in the USA, the European Poetry Prize from the city of Münster, and a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin residency. His first marriage—to the writer Maruša Krese, with whom he had two children, Ana and David—ended in divorce. In 1979 he married the painter Metka Krašovec. Šalamun died 27 th of December 2014.



Film discussion

Nejc Saje is an accomplished cinematographer and a member of the Slovene Society of Cinematographers (ZFS). He works in the fields of photography, cinema, animation, video, and theatre. His directorial work includes two animation films and two documentaries. 

Prof. Monika Rinck - poet, essayist and translator. She taught at the German Literature Institute in Leipzig and is currently the head of the language class at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. 2017 Curation of POETICA III in Cologne. She is a member of the PEN Center Germany, the German Academy for Language and Poetry and the Academy of Arts Berlin. Artistically, Monika Rinck moves in different fields of art and literature. Already during her studies she developed a preference for interdisciplinary and intermedial border crossings.

Amalija Maček, born in 1971, is one of the most important translators of German-language literature into Slovenian. Her list of works ranges from Kafka, Brecht and Bachmann to Josef Winkler and Terézia Mora. She received a "Schritte" scholarship from the S. Fischer Foundation.

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