Nikola Madzirov

© image

Nikola Madzirov

Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator, editor) was born 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia. His poetry has been translated into more than twenty languages and published in many magazines and anthologies in Macedonia and abroad. For his book Relocated stone (2007) he received the European Hubert Burda poetry award and the most prestigious Macedonian poetry prize Miladinov Brothers. For Locked in the city (1999) he was given the Studentski Zbor award for the best debut book, while for Somewhere nowhere (1999) the Aco Karamanov award. He has participated at many international poetry festivals and has received several international awards and fellowships: International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in US (2008); Literarisches Tandem in Berlin (2009); Villa Waldberta in Munich (2009); Internationales Haus der Autoren in Graz (2007); Krems Literatur Haus NÖ (2006) and KultuKontakt fellowship in Vienna (2005). He was also shortlisted for the European literary award of Central European Initiative (CEI) in 2006.


The streets were asphalted
before we were born and all
the constellations were already formed.
The leaves were rotting
on the edge of the pavement,
the silver was tarnishing
on the workers’ skin,
someone’s bones were growing through
the length of the sleep.

Europe was uniting
before we were born and
a woman’s hair was spreading
calmly over the surface
of the sea.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


Distant are all the houses I am dreaming of,
distant is the voice of my mother
calling me for dinner, but I run towards the fields of wheat.

We are distant like a ball that misses the goal
and goes towards the sky, we are alive
like a thermometer that is precise only when
we look at it.

The distant reality every day questions me
like an unknown traveler who wakes me up in the middle of the journey
saying “Is this the right bus?“,
and I answer “Yes“, but I mean “I don’t know“,
I don’t know the cities of your grandparents
who want to leave behind all discovered deceases
and their prayers.

I dream of a house on the hill of our longings,
to watch how the waves of the sea draw
the cardiogram of our falls and loves,
how people believe so as not to sink
and step so as not to be forgotten.

Distant are all the huts where we hid from the storm
and from the pain of the does dying in front of the eyes of the hunters
who were more lonely, than hungry.

The distant moment every day asks me
Is this the window? Is this the life?“, and I say
Yes“, but I mean “I don’t know“, I don’t know will
birds begin to speak, without uttering “A sky“.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Makedonka Bozinovska


We’ll meet one day,
like a paper boat and
a watermelon that’s been cooling in the river.
The anxiety of the world will
be with us. Our palms
will eclipse the sun and we’ll
approach each other holding lanterns.

One day, the wind won’t
change direction.
The birch will send away leaves
into our shoes on the doorstep.
The wolves will come after
our innocence.
The butterflies will leave
their dust on our cheeks.

An old woman will tell stories
about us in the waiting room every morning.
Even what I’m saying has
been said already: we’re waiting for the wind
like two flags on a border.

One day every shadow
                              will pass us by.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Magdalena Horvat


I stand concealed
like a gull waiting for a fish to fly.
Passengers with the same oaths and expectations
come and go on the harbour wall,
the years slide slowly over the sails
like rainwater on a badly levelled path.
The eras of longing end up beyond the horizon,
in the village on the shore where at night
an old woman hides her coins in a kerchief
that once covered her hair.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


I lived at the edge of the town
like a streetlamp whose light bulb
no one ever replaces.
Cobwebs held the walls together,
and sweat our clasped hands.
I hid my teddy bear
in holes in crudely built stone walls
saving him from dreams.

Day and night I made the threshold come alive
returning like a bee that
always returns to the previous flower.
It was a time of peace when I left home:

the bitten apple was not bruised,
on the letter a stamp with an old abandoned house.

From birth I’ve migrated to quiet places
and voids have clung beneath me
like snow that doesn’t know if it belongs
to the earth or to the air.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


You write. About the things that already exist.
And they say you fantasize.

You keep quiet. Like the sunken nets
of poachers. Like an angel
who knows what the night may bring.

And you travel. You forget,
so that you’d come back.

You write and you don’t want to remember
the stone, the sea, the believers
sleeping with their hands apart.

Nikola Madzirov
© translation by Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed

Published with the permission of Nikola Madzirov