MARIA KALINOVA (b. 1983) has published the books of poetry “The Eye” (2004) and “Under the Knife of Supper” (2008), and the research books “Childhood and Intellectual History in the Bulgarian Revival Authors” (2012) and “Exotopy: For the External Context of Discourse” (2020). She is a lecturer at Sofia University, one of the current editors of the literary newspaper Literaturen Vestnik, and an editor for the “p.m.” series of contemporary poetry and prose at VERSUS Publishing House.
Yes. The lunch break of the people started.
The city clock isn’t visible from the machine knitting
workshop. For 30 minutes
the pleasure of not thinking. Nothing but noon.
That’s exactly when gravity disappeared. First
a plastic bag came off the ground,
picked up by a dead wind.
Around the same time, a suicide jumper
hung mid-air between the stories of the tallest building.
In the surgical ward: a heart rose out of a gaping
chest, along with metal scissors and
clean wads of cotton. The old flakes began to snow.
They simply didn’t stick to the ground. Yes.
Nothing attracts us anymore.
Translated by Ekaterina Petrova
How would you describe the relationship between literature and the city?
To me, this relationship has become a lost path, just as is lost the path between literature and nature, between the collective and the personal, between the anonymous life of the masses and the truth. I often remember a hedgehog, a philosophical animal, lying down completely alone where this path had once been and reminding us all of human disintegration.
I once saw from my window a hedgehog – it is very strange to notice a hedgehog in the night city – and I witnessed its ordeal, how it was attacked by stray dogs. What else could it have done but curl up and turn its spines against a culture that has become wild, to protect itself from that culture? As if the hedgehog (the philosophical one) had once said – take me with you, carry me away. Perhaps, the word “transposition” – more specifically, the transposition of something difficult to be transposed – is the word, which can describe every artistic relationship.
What do you think would be the best setting for a poetry reading in the city?
Under the stone eyes of Patriarch Evtimiy; in the square named after him.
Which letter is the scariest?
“Ж” (Bulgarian pronunciation “zh”). No less scary is “M”, though.
What particular ending of a poem is your favourite?
The last two verses of the elegy “Sorrow for the South” by Bulgarian poet Konstantin Miladinov.
Translated by Krassimira Dzhisova