Photo: Yana Lozeva
The Letter Ъ
there are letters
that begin only a handful of words
they’re like a frightened child
sitting Ъlone at the cornЪr of the table
invited to family dinnЪr by the alphЪbet
unaware it’ll be the main course
that it’ll constitute the reasЪns and sЪmmits of others
and won’t have time
even for a finЪl exclЪmation
before the cannibals’ consЪmption
there are cЪntries that do the same thing to people
Translated by Ekaterina Petrova
STEFAN IVANOV (b. 1986) is the author of four poetry collections – “4 Seconds Violet” (2003), “Ginsbеrg vs. Bukowski in the Audience” (2004), “Lists” (2009) and “Inwards” (2014). He also writes plays. His works have been nominated for and awarded with national and international prizes.
How would you describe the relationship between literature and the city?
As alive. People enjoy themselves in the city, they feel sad and read, they grow up and write, they dream and daydream. I would be delighted if they felt happy in the city more often, if they felt in their element, if they preferred to stay where they were instead of longing to leave and relocate. This depends upon certain efforts and care, which should be given for the people.
What do you think would be the best setting for a poetry reading in the city?
For years now, I’ve wanted to attend or participate in a poetry reading in a temple, church, synagogue, mosque, crypt or a chapel. These particular places make you humble; they create a sense of seclusion and concentrate what’s essential; they invite us to go beyond ourselves and listen closely. Poetry does the same thing. That’s why I believe that poetry would feel at home between the walls (or the covers?) of these religious buildings.
Which letter is the scariest?
Sometimes, this is the letter “O” when all you can see around you are zeros and deficits. At other times, the butterfly of the letter “Ж” (Bulgarian pronunciation “zh”) turns into a dictator who swings his arms. Sometimes, the letter “Ъ” (Bulgarian pronunciation “ǎ”) looks like an executioner in a hoodie, shouldering an axe. Or, it could be “Ъ” (similar to “Ugh” in English) when you find yourself wordless in front of your fears, which had already gnawed you to the bone.
What particular ending of a poem is your favourite?
The climax of the 66th sonnet by Shakespeare:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
Translated by Krassimira Dzhisova