Kiss the Eyes of Peace

Selected Poems 1964–2014
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An authoritative volume representing the vast oeuvre of one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant and visionary poets.
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An authoritative volume representing the vast oeuvre of one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant and visionary poets.

Widely regarded as some of the most important and innovative poetry from postwar Europe, Tomaž Šalamun’s work offers a singularly thrilling reading experience. Sharp and subtle, Šalamun’s rhythms intertwine with an incantatory force; his prescient, liberatory politics and poetics pulse like a heartbeat. In Kiss the Eyes of Peace, the histories of Slovenia, the former Yugoslavia, and Europe are broken into kaleidoscopic harmonies of terror and joy: friends and family talk to each other under the sun as snow, apples, and deer mingle with blood and bones, with salt and cabbage, with gold, silk, and wine, and with God and heaven in the sand and grass.

“Love tore apart all my theories,” writes Šalamun. His oracular poems, suffused with mystic pronouncements that confound and delight, are as moving as they are eerie. And yet, if “every true poet is a monster,” Šalamun’s profound imagination also offers us peace—grace, even—in the wildness and wilderness of his art: “May everything erupt on a clear day, just as it is, / into sacredness and the beauty of the gift: life.”

Translated from the Slovenian and curated by esteemed author and translator Brian Henry, and with a Foreword from award-winning author Ilya Kaminsky, this expansive arrangement is the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive English-language retrospective of Šalamun’s storied career.

Publish Date
9 × 6 × 0.75 in
17 oz

Tomaž Šalamun

Tomaž Šalamun was born in 1941 in Zagreb, Croatia, and raised in Koper, Slovenia. He is the author of more than fifty books of poetry and his work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.


Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Dancing In Odessa and Deaf Republic. He is also the translator and editor of many other books, including Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, and Ecco Anthology of International Poetry.


Brian Henry

Brian Henry is the translator of Tomaž Šalamun’s Kiss the Eyes of Peace and Woods and Chalices, as well as Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers and six books by Aleš Šteger, most recently Burning Tongues: New and Selected Poems.

Praise and Prizes

  • “One of the great Central European poets of the late twentieth century, the Slovene Tomaž Šalamun is a madman. A master of chance, adrenaline, and inspiration, Šalamun’s poems don’t unfold, they erupt with the volcanic energy of tumultuous times, both personal and historical. Like Blake and Whitman before him, a divine unity is at their core, and in these new translations by Brian Henry we are given the Šalamunian universe, prophetic and exhilarating, created by the most flexible of poetic minds in the act of the human urge to create.”

    Mary Ruefle
    author of Dunce
  • “This book will revolutionize the way that Tomaž Šalamun is perceived by English readers. Not only is it the first comprehensive English selection from his entire body of work, uncovering many hidden gems, but it also stands as a remarkable culmination of more than two decades of dedication by Brian Henry, a poet who shared a profound connection with Tomaž. With meticulous precision and wild poetic power, Henry presents an English rendition of Šalamun at its finest.”

    Aleš Šteger
    author of The Book of Bodies
  • “Šalamun’s work is alive with provocation and imaginative intensity, aesthetic risk, antic intelligence, mercury, lightning.”

    Robert Hass
    author of The Apple Trees at Olema