Photo: Svoboda Tzekova
NADEZHDA RADULOVA (b. 1975) is a poet, writer, editor and literary translator. She is the author of six poetry books – “Tongue-Tied Name”, “Albas”, “Cotton, Glass and Electricity”, “Bandoneon”, “When They Fall Asleep” and “Small World, Big World” – as well as of the children’s book “Wonderful Alphabet” and the research “Literary Palimpsests: Hilda Doolittle, Jean Rhys, Marina Tsvetaeva”. She is the recipient of the national awards for poetry “Ivan Nikolov” and “Nikolay Kanchev”, and the Krastan Dyankov Award for literary translation from English into Bulgarian.
at the drinking fountains
next to the Cinema House, Banya Bashi, and the tram no. 20 stop, amidst the dispersed noise of car
horns, breaks, alarms, and you strain to hear that ancient, round-the-clock gurgling beneath your
feet, for a moment you imagine how that voice preceding all human tongues, now daily sealed into
throats, plastic containers, bottles, trunks, trailers, that whole mixture of magnesium iron manganese
sodium potassium selenium nickel zinc cyanide copper arsenic boron lead etc. suddenly simply
explodes, blows up civilization’s fragile packaging and sweeps over us, and turns us and all our Greek
Roman Thracian and whatever other roots upside down, and sends us to a horror movie, down the
drain, into the depot where antediluvian equipment gets recycled, and drowns us in our own thirst,
and swallows us in our own gulp . . . Such a pure and transparent ending.
Somehow undeservedly transparent
You lean over and drink to new beginnings.
How would you describe the relationship between literature and the city?
There are cities, which are above all literary. Some of them, such as Amherst and Stratford upon Avon, are indeed real and can be visited. Others, though, exist only on the page – Middlemarch, Macondo, Jefferson (Yoknapatawpha County), the Green Town, Ankh-Morpork... These fictional cities are particularly interesting to me. Their city builders designed them so that they can withstand fires, bombings, natural disasters... Only ignorance and oblivion could destroy them.
What do you think would be the best setting for a poetry reading in the city?
It feels good to read in a beautiful park, in a romantic yard, in an old square or at a Saturday market... However, it is also worth entering the holes in the city’s fabric, say, desolate buildings and landfills. In such places, there is more poetry than it is in many of our poems.
Which letter is the scariest?
There is no such letter. Letters are tools, which make phonetic magic. Depending on the word they create, they can impart a specific flavour to it, whether it is frightening, hilarious, exalted, or any other. For example, the letter “Х” (Bulgarian pronunciation “h” as in “loch”) sometimes wheezes, but it may also sound like a delighted “Oh!” The letter “Ж” (Bulgarian pronunciation “zh”) cuts like a red-hot knife, but all of a sudden it can turn gentle and buzz sweetly, then sting, and then regret for what it has done. And so on, and so forth.
What particular ending of a poem is your favourite?
Among many favourite, the first one that comes to my mind is from a Dylan Thomas poem: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Translated by Krassimira Djissova
Traslated by Ekaterina Petrova