TSOTCHO BOYADZHIEV (b. 1951) is Professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Sofia, co-founder of the European Graduate School for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (Cologne, Germany), and a long-standing Director of the Institute for Medieval Philosophy and Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. His poetry collections include “Sandy Hill”, “Shepherd of Words”, “A Window to the North”, “Taking Leave of Objects and Other Living Beings” and “Book of repentance and consolation”. As a photographer, he has published the albums “The Path of Man” and “The Home of Man” (co-authored with Nikolay Treyman). Professor Boyadzhiev is the author of eleven monographs, several dozens of articles and case studies, and numerous translations from Latin, Ancient Greek and German. He has taught History of Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, Cultural Anthropology of the European Middle Ages, etc. From 1991 until 1999, he was Head of the History of Philosophy Department at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Sofia, and he is currently on the editorial board of the Bulgarian journal “Christianity & Culture”. He is a member of a number of European academic institutions, including the International Plato Society and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Vienna). He is a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Sovereign Order of Malta, a laureate of the 2004 National Award “Hristo G. Danov” for his contribution to the Humanities, a recipient of the 2005 National Award “Golden Metaphor” and of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award of Portal Kultura.
Sofia (early dawn)
before night stows away its creatures
behind the unassailable fences of impending dawn
before day turns your heart to stone
and you forget the ancient legends
this is the hour to show mercy to your neighbor
when you see the two-horned trolleybus
emerge from the fog and approach the stop
like the Cretan Bull ready to tuck into its maw
those expectant foot-stamping
crestfallen Herculeses who
are still wandering half-asleep
in the garden of the Hesperides
Translated by Ekaterina Petrova
How would you describe the relationship between the city and literature?
There is an urban character who I find extremely endearing and to whom I feel spiritually related. Personally, I call him the “reader on the tram”. With their delicate presence amongst the multitudes, this personage is, in their way, a metaphor for the irrevocable triumph of the human spirit.
What do you think would be the best setting for a poetry reading in the city?
It would be in a small café-club with a regular clientele, in order to be able to treasure the intimacy of poetic message.
Which letter is the scariest?
Perhaps the letter “P” (“R” in English). A poem of mine, which begins with, “Too many Rs words have in themselves,” ends like that: “Only the home made by kids brings solace/with its /\ like a roof.”
What particular ending of a poem is your favourite?
It is a poem by Portuguese poet Maria do Rosário Pedreira: “Had I died.../I wouldn’t have heard your voice now calling me/while I’m writing this poem which/might not seem to be a love one, but it is”.
Translated by Krassimira Djissova