thrives here.

A City of Literature is, above all, its people.


Meet notable individuals from the city of literature.

  • Marjetka Krapež
  • Andrej Rozman Roza
  • Rok Zavrtanik
  • Suzana Koncut
  • Rok Glavan
  • Darja Lavrenčič Vrabec
  • Izar Lunaček
  • Primož Čučnik
  • Amelia Kraigher
  • Anja Zag Golob
  • Manca Košir
  • Dejan Koban
  • Majda Kne
  • Kozma Ahačič
  • Matej Bogataj
  • Stanka Golob


What makes Ljubljana a city of literature?

  • Zdravko Duša
  • Urban Vovk
  • Svetlana Slapšak
  • Suzana Tratnik
  • Samira Kentrić
  • Nada Grošelj
  • Miklavž Komelj
  • Marjetka Krapež
  • Kristina Krajnc
  • Katja Zakrajšek
  • Katja Perat
  • Igor Divjak
  • Goran Vojnović
  • Carlos Pascual
  • Arjan Pregl


Home libraries

  • Slovenska filantropija, Association for Promotion of Volunteering
  • Kralji ulice (Kings of the Street Society)
  • Bojana and Tone Hočevar
  • Dr Liza Debevec
  • Mateja Demšič
  • Iztok Ilc
  • Renata Zamida and Gorazd Trušnovec
  • Dr Maja Bogataj Jančič
  • Janez Lajovic and Maja Dobravec Lajovic
  • Tina Mahkota
  • Manca G. Renko and Luka Mesec
  • Tanja Radež
  • Adela Železnik and Marijan Rupert
  • Zora Stančič
  • Zdravko Duša
  • Dr Tina Košir

A Good Reading Habit

Profiles of readers and diverse styles of reading.


Marjetka KrapežIf you don’t have love for language, what do you have?

Andrej Hočevar

The day instantly gained autumn colours as Marjetka (1966) greeted me with a quote from a well-known poem by Rilke. Time is our master, true, but the time Marjetka spends with the young in order to bring literature closer to them, helps them discover their own language and the treasure they carry within, that time is well spent. The young need something beyond the education system as a closed circle of providing information, assures Marjetka, teacher and long-time head of literary club at the Gimnazija Vič. All they need is to be open and the love for literature. 

We have to create circumstances encouraging trust

“The education system is one story, creativity is another,” she says. It is alarming that there are those who are unable to utter a single sentence after nine years of primary and four years of secondary education. Many are ill-equipped when it comes to reading, as the reluctance to read starts forming very early on, especially if one has been exposed to low quality literature in school, of all places. She refuses to play the role of reading police, but if students can be expected to complete math assignments, shouldn’t they be able to complete reading exercises, as well?

Despite being critical of the education system and the world which hails the utilitarian cult and leaves no room for reading, let alone writing, Marjetka constantly exudes immense passion and understanding. She respects young people’s sensitivity, which can also be their source of power, but at the same time tries to instil the importance of (self)criticism for understanding what is good and what isn’t. “We have to create circumstances encouraging trust,” she says, “and help the young become aware that they work from and for themselves, not from vanity or self-interest.” While they have to mould themselves, find their voices themselves, she is there to offer the encouragement necessary for them to dare and try. Or, with Marjetka’s beautiful metaphor: when you turn on the tap, the water might not be clear at first, but if you don’t turn it on, there’ll be no water whatsoever. 

Each generation includes a group of very good readers, but the number of people who don’t read at all is sadly on the rise. That’s why small achievements matter, even the ones the figures don’t register. Many students openly tell Marjetka that their time together may be the last chance to read something, as they won’t be able to afford to read once they start medical school. The sad thing is that money has become the sole value, that neoliberalism is eating into every last pore, that humanities have become utterly redundant - regardless of whether the students are being led by their own values of simply by their parents’ expectations. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to invite these students to Fabula Festival or the book fair or Liffe Film Festival, or to convince non-readers to at least go to the theatre.

From club to community

It’s a pity that the school curriculum doesn’t include a single class of creative writing, which could enable the young to feel the suppleness of language and freely follow associations. “Why not play with words?” Marjetka wonders, upset with the all-embracing seriousness. “We use language to decipher the world in so many different ways,” she says. This is precisely the reason why, for many years now, she has been organising a literary club at the Gimnazija Vič, which has expanded beyond the school walls and become the L’etažer Literary Club (then students Katarina Ana Rakušček and Laura Repovš came up with the name). Not many students are able to go beyond their schoolwork and create their own world by themselves, but together - with proper guidance - this becomes easier. The literary club is about more than just writing, it’s also about reading, talking and most of all strengthening the community, which encourages the expression and exchange of opinions.

Since 2010, a part of the literary club has been an annual book debut prepared by Marjetka and a chosen student. She says she feels encouraged by this every time, despite knowing - and also encouraging the young not to have illusions - that this is just the first step, a fleeting yet fabulous moment they share. She encourages the young to take part in every part of the process of making a book, so they can gain a true understanding of the whole and realise that the author is not the only one responsible for it coming to light. The club’s published authors and other collaborators include Grega Ulen, Jaka Smerkolj, Tara Ferbežar Felgner, Matjaž Jamnik, Urban Kuntarič, Martin Justin, Ana Pepelnik, Siniša Gačić and others, and each one of them is a story in and of itself.

In addition to the literary club Marjetka encourages the young to discover reading and writing at the L’etažer’s literary weekends at the Vodnikova Homestead, as creator of different literary competitions (e.g. for best sonnet or constructivist poem), as judge (e.g. for the Bodi pisatelj/pisateljica competition organised by the Pionirski dom Centre for Youth Culture) or as coordinator (e.g. for the ELA competition under the patronage of the Pranger Festival). The essayistic magazine Dvomovine has been created for this purpose, as well.

Despite having good experience Marjetka adds that working with the young in the literary club can be exhausting. It comes with a lot of responsibility and can also be very demanding emotionally. Namely, many things can surface when writing, even extremely dark texts, which at times reveal more than their authors might desire. “Literature allows many people to speak up about their distress for the first time,” she says.

Naturally, Marjetka also writes, although she speaks somewhat modestly about it, especially since she had a lengthy break from writing. She says that she has never belonged to a publishing house or any other literary circle. She has realised that you don’t need to belong to anyone in this world in order to be who you are. What’s important is that she has her space and independence. That she can write spontaneously and honestly. At the moment, for instance, she’s writing a sort of prose poetry. It’s that she sometimes feels she’s not very good at utilising the “poetry pot” and would like to write “pot-less”. And she enjoys writing freely, free of form. As she has written in one of her poems: she doesn’t want to be “an empty vessel for the stranger within”.

What we receive as readers, we can give as writers

Not only as an author, but also as a mentor and reader, Marjetka was fundamentally determined by the unforgettable experience of legendary writing workshops with Lojze Kovačič, who has remained her favourite Slovenian author ever since (at least) then. “His life energy opened a new perspective of literature for me,” she recalls. While she was very young then and he was quite old, she says she fell in love with the old man, whom she was often allowed to accompany to the Tromostovje bridge, she fell in love with his non-mendacity and insistence that one has to write from within. To avoid bluffing.

The directness she picked up from Kovačič is essential when it comes to her workshops, as, paired with honesty, it strengthens trust. At the same time directness is what she appreciates in the books that touch her the most. Recently these include On Earth We’re Briefly by Ocean Vuong and Materinska knjižica by Katja Gorečan. Both works are based on a difficult life experience and say what they need to, each in its own way, without being ostentatious.

“A book is my conversational partner,” says Marjetka who keeps track of what she read and what she thought about it. She keeps all her records, including diaries, so she can always compare the impressions and questions she experienced in the past with those arising today. She always underlines parts of text while reading, which probably makes her books useless for others. Whenever she opens one up in class, students sitting in front rows gawk, amazed at the state they’re in - which is the state of books owned by a reader who once thought she had to be a good reader, but then grew out of it in order to become a passionate, as well as a more relaxed reader.
When I ask her what she intends to do with all of her notes, we suddenly become aware of the fading light and resort back to Rilke. “There comes a time to settle accounts,” Marjetka says. “If you’re given the time.” Literature is contact among different worlds; what we receive as readers, we can give as writers,” she says. “If we are going to raise readers, there’s nothing to worry about.”

This, also, makes Ljubljana the city of literature: it’s inhabited by people who love literature.
Photo: Domen Pal