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  • Peter SvetinaAuthor–Slovenia

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Peter Svetina (born in 1970) is a Slovenian author of short stories, novels, picturebooks, and poetry for children, young adults, and adults. He is an Associate Professor for Slavic Literature at the Institute for Slavic languages, Alpen-Adria University, Klagenfurt, Austria. He translates poetry and children's literature from English, German, Croatian, and Czech and works as an editor for poetry and literature textbooks. Svetina has received many awards for his works (including twice the main Slovenian award for children's literature) and has long been recognized as a significant author by literary critics and the literary field in general.

Svetina's work develops along two distinct paths: towards language play and towards real-life topics; however, both developments reflect his distinctive poetics of combining nonsense and realism, including problem fiction. Svetina's poetry is extremely diverse and represents one of the high points of contemporary Slovenian poetry. Svetina's first book of poetry, By-World, shows reality as childlike and playful. Language play is the basis of Poems from the Washing Machine; however, his most recent poetry book, Homework and Prayers from the Stairway, move away from language play and are predominantly based on the sometimes lonely real world of the modern child. Svetina's storytelling is similar to his poetry, combining a realistic environment with elements of nonsense and lyricism, comedy with folklore, and linguistic experimentation with a non-intrusive moral evaluation of the character's actions.

Recently, Svetina is most recognized for his unique nonsense stories that feature unusual animals with similarly unusual names: Hippopotamus Wisdom or The Ripening of Porcupines. In their world, there is no place for the frenzy of human modernity; nonsense wordplay and story ideas are combined with a focus on friendship, and the characters are filled with wonder at everything around them.

Svetina describes the act of writing with the following words:

I feel like sometimes when I'm writing, that the words are writing themselves. Not everything is thought out in advance, you simply get into a certain mood and things come together. If you're happy with the result, you keep it, if not, you throw it out. ... In a safari zoo by Lake Garda, I once saw two hippos running. I'd never outrun them, I'm sure. But they were extremely likeable. What I wanted to do with the book, then, was to have them talking all the time, for them to have all the time in the world. [End Page 33]



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