Tomaž Šalamun meets Anselm Hollo at Donnelly’s Pub

Tomaž Šalamun meets Anselm Hollo at Donnelly’s Pub


Donnelly's Pub
110 E. College St.

Tomaž Šalamun recalls visiting Donnelly’s Pub and meeting his future translator, Anselm Hollo, completely by chance:


Maybe I should start with how Iowa is totally magical for me, and why. I was in Ljubljana. Primož Kožak, a playwright, was here, with the IWP, and then, he was also involved in helping to select the next Slovenian person to come. He very decently offered this position to his younger playwright peer, his competitor. He said “no.” Then to the best young fiction writer, and he said “no.” And when I was asked, I said “Yes, of course.” And it had to be done very quickly. Two days later, Michael Scammell —you might know his name — he was then a lecturer in Ljubljana, then he became responsible for writers in prison for the International PEN […] and he said: “If you go to America, you will for sure meet the Finnish poet Anselm Hollo and like his poetry. Anselm Hollo was in Finland—and Finland was too small for him; he went to Germany, married in Germany, then worked for his uncle who was friends of Jung’s, then came to England, then became an English poet, than BBC wanted to promote him to a much higher position, he didn’t like this … he escaped … and he must be somewhere in America.”

I flew to Iowa City (Cedar Rapids), we went to Mayflower, I signed the lease, I went downtown, I went to one bar—I don’t remember its name— and then I went to Donnelly’s, and in Donnelly’s there was an older person and some people around him, and they were laughing and they included me. I realized they were poets, and I said, “I’m a poet, and come from the IWP.” And then the older person said, “Let me drive you to Mayflower.” On the road he had a small accident, and, when he handed his driver’s license to the police officer, I realized that he was Anselm Hollo!

That is how Iowa started for me, and it didn’t stop. Every third year there is some strange connection!


Šalamun, Tomaž. “Paul Engle Memorial Reading, IWP 40th Anniversary, The University of Iowa, October 12, 2007.” Virtual Writing University Archive, Full Archive.