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The page of Ondruš, Ján, English biography

Image of Ondruš, Ján
Ondruš, Ján


Born 11 March 1932 in Nová Vieska. He started to publish poetry in periodicals as an eleven-year old boy. After graduating from the secondary school (1948 - 1951) in Nitra, he studied at the Institute of Political Sciences and Economy in Prague, but had to leave because of illness (tuberculosis). He worked subsequently in several places as a librarian. His 1958 debut collection Egg was rejected by the socialistrealist editors. In a bad atmosphere that surrounded his person, his health suffered a relapse and from 1961 he has been living on the disability pension.

As a mature poet, the author published ten poems in the periodical Mladá tvorba in 1956. From the very outset, the poetry of Ján Ondruš provides an answer to the destructive forces that corrupt the world and the people living in it. Ondruš faces these forces with an enormous determination to be united with his own fragmentariness no matter what circumstances or consequences will ensue. It is this determination that makes him whole and irreducible. Resistance to any immobility is one of the images that are always present in his work. This is the reason why his poetry is so difficult to catalogue and why it is so unique. In the Slovak poetry he has perhaps only one predecessor: J. Kráľ (Romantic poet from the 19 th century).

In the literature of the 20 th century he is situated among such poets as V. Popa, S. Beckett, H. Michaux, and Ch. Morgenstern. From welcoming the world, Ondruš's poetry moved to creating the forms of anxiety, destruction, but also of life and love. His poetry does not emerge and develop in the usual metaphorical manner.

He does not defamiliarise the reality, nor does he interpret it, but defines the fundamental human condition by understanding the pain of disintegration, the enormous potential of vulnerability, of human and social destructiveness and self-destruction. It is a type of poetic phenomenology that - faced with the changeable nature and complexity of the world and the man and the insoluble contradictions within man - searches for phenomena with axiomatic validity. His "poetic games" like the ones of V. Popa are therefore always more than games and poems.

- Insane Moon (Šialený mesiac, 1965),
- Gesture with a Flower (Posunok s kvetom, 1968),
- In a State of Gall (V stave žlče, 1968),
- Genuflection (Kľak, 1970),
- Male Spice (Mužské korenie, 1972),
- Memory (Pamäť, 1982, selection from his works),
- Egg (Vajíčko, from the unpublished debut; 1984),
- Swallowing a Hair (Prehĺtanie vlasu, 1996, a collection of his re-edited books), Sheep in a Wolf 's Clothing (Ovca vo vlčej koži, 1997)

Translations by the author:
- Ondruš translated and published a volume of V. Popa's poems.

Works translated:
- I Will Not Sign My Face (1995 Norwegian)
- Leaving from a Mirror (1997 Bulgarian)
- Tightrope Walker (1998 English)
- A Hat of Wine (2000 German)

Works published with support from SLOLIA:
- Dvoglavi lutak (Výber z poézie) / 2002 / Serbian language
- Ein Hut voll Wein (Výber z poézie) / 2000 / German
- Izlizane ot ogledaloto (Výber z poézie) / 1997 / Bulgarian Language
- Kretnja s cvetom in V stanju žolča / Prehĺtanie vlasu (výber) / 2008 / Slovenian Language
- Primera luna (Výber z poézie - dvojjazyčne) / 2009 / Spanish


Literature ::
Translation ::