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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Slovenian poet France Balantič would have celebrated his 102nd birthday

By: C. R.

On November 29th, the Slovenian poet France Balantič would have celebrated his 102nd birthday, and on November 24th, 2023, it has been 80 years since his tragic death. He is remembered in history as a mystical figure on whom ideological spears clashed. Nevertheless, Balantič’s poetry is pure, devoid of ideological elements or political connotations. His poetic power transcends the capabilities of literary-historical and simple interpretation. Reading his poems is a spiritual experience and, for many, an intensely aesthetic one.

Since 2015, the library in Kamnik has been named after him, known as the France Balantič Library. At that time, the poet and playwright Veno Taufer, in a public letter to the residents of Kamnik, welcomed the decision regarding the new name of the library and referred to Balantič as one of the best poets of the first half of the 20th century: “I have been convinced that he is a powerful poet, he has aroused my admiration and respect. He is one of the strongest poetic voices of Slovenian expressionism, a voice that resonates and carries weight. I was glad that Slovenian poets had publicly accepted him among us long ago, and literary scholars and anthologists have secured him a place among the top Slovenian poets.”

The director of the France Balantič Library, Breda Podbrežnik Vukmir, states that Balantič belongs at the top of the Slovenian Parnassus, and he is undoubtedly the best sonneteer after Prešeren: “Balantič’s poetry is a voice stronger than ideology and hatred. In his poetry, images come alive, speaking, and burning with all their might, addressing the reader with a rare power. His poetry is pure and beautiful. His longing as a young man and his questioning of transcendence are taken from the edge of eternity.”

The poet France Balantič died on November 24th, 1943, in Grahovo, in a Home Guard station and uniform, in the fiery jaws of Krajčeva’s house, where 31 other people also lost their lives alongside the poet. Two days later, his unrecognisable mortal remains were buried in a common grave at the Grahovo cemetery.

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