:: Article

Poetry Room

By Ivan Hristov.


City Lights Bookstore
San Francisco

For Silvia Choleva

we’re all
in that dingy
and slightly stuffy
poetry room
we’re silent
to see whether
any of us
will leave


And we talked
about the difference
between Catholicism
and Protestantism,
and he confided in me
their wish
to see women
and for gays
to be accepted
by the church.
Then he asked me
how things were with us.
I told him
that our
was more conservative
and more mystical,
and that we don’t
talk much
about our problems.
He was amazed.
I didn’t dare
tell him
that for 45 years
we didn’t have God at all
and that now we were
to pray.

A Bulgarian Rose

There’s got to be
something Bulgarian,
I kept saying to myself,
there’s got to be
something Bulgarian
in this city.
I wandered through the streets
and galleries…
At the science museum
I heard Bulgarian spoken,
but that’s not it,
I said to myself,
and like every Bulgarian
I turned away.
Until, suddenly,
at the Walker Art Center
I saw it –
a Bulgarian
Right there,
between Andy Warhol
and Yoko Ono,
a Bulgarian
with the sign:
in silk,
such that
it could
be seen
yet at the same
not prick.

Translated by Angela Rodel.

The poet, critic and performance artist Ivan Hristov (b. 1978) graduated in Bulgarian literature at Sofia University in 2001 and defended his PhD in Bulgarian Modernism at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in 2008. His first book of poetry, Farewell to the 19th Century (2001) won the prestigious 2002 Southern Spring award for the best debut book. His second collection, Bdin (2004) received critical acclaim, as well as the 2006 Svetlostrui Prize for poetry. His work has been translated into English, French, Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian and Hungarian. Ivan has participated in numerous poetry festivals abroad. He is also a leading literary critic of his generation with numerous academic publications; his book-length research study, The Sagittarius Circle and the Concept of the Native, won the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture’s National Culture Fund competition and was published in 2010. In 2011 one of his poems from Bdin was selected for inclusion in the prestigious American anthology of literature in translation, Two Lines. Since 2010, Ivan Hristov has been a member of the organizational committee for the international Sofia Poetics festival. He currently works as a researcher at the Institute of Literature of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013.