Patricia Nikolova

Patricia Nikolova

Patricia Nikolova (1979, Sofia) is a Bulgarian poet, writer, literary and theater critic, essayist and translator from English, Russian and other languages. She graduated from the National Lyceum for Ancient Languages and Cultures “Konstantin Kiril Filosof” with a certification approved by Sofia University, majoring in Philosophy and Bulgarian studies. She completed her higher education at the National Academy for Film and Theatre Art “Kr. Sarafov” in Theatre Studies and Theatre Management, as well as Theatre Art with emphasis on the Semiotics and Pedagogy of Art. She has been awarded the 1999 “Dora Gabe” National Book Award for female poetry, as well as other distinctions, nominations and prizes. She is a member of the International P.E.N. Center, Bulgarian branch. Patricia Nikolova has published five books of verse. Her works have been translated in English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Armenian, Hebrew, Ladino etc. Her poetry has been successfully presented at international book fairs and literary forums, and she has participated in various international poetry anthologies.

In the period 2003-2008 she worked as a full-time editor in Rodna Rech Magazine and the Children’s Book House at the Ministry of Education and Science. During this period, she led various Creative Writing courses, edited anthologies of poetry, prose and essays published by the Ministry of Education and Science, and also organized and judged national and international creative writing competitions. During the last 25 years she has worked as a literary and theatre reviewer and editor in numerous highly popular media, including in the legendary magazine Suvremennik (Contemporary), where she leads a critical column on poetry over the past decade. For the first time in Bulgarian, the poetry of the Chilean poet and dissident Raúl Zurita, the American poet laureate Robert Pinsky and remarkable Jascha Kessler were published in her translation. The poetry of Joseph Brodsky (Odysseus to Telemachus, etc.) and immigrant stories by Sergei Dovlatov, poetry by the Polish dissidents Julian Tuwim, Aleksander Wat, etc. were also appeared in her translation.

The poems presented here are from her recently books: Invasion of Words (2017) and Pentimento from Atlantis (2021).


where the spears of hope
are breaking

there is our peace
in the heart of Chaos

in the epic clash with Cronus
only the happiest heroes die

the rest cease to live
by Heaven’s decrees

long ago I swore
on the fire of Styx

but never mind:
gone are the champions

the Olympians’ triumph


a titanic farce


you said,

today the water is dreamily tranquil

… and before me appeared
troops arrayed in their wartime green
how they sail upon the sea, bunched together…

you said,

the trees are modestly dressed

… and refugees with embarrassed faces appeared in my memory
on that sad autumn they perched on the bus station benches
at dawn lying on the ground as if shot dead…

you said,

i saw a kite soar above the trees

… and suddenly the terror in Nice erupted in my ears
the bloody bodies the pulsating lamps
the screams near the horrified palms…

you said, dreams are repeated
you said, the big will become small
you said, the bombing frightens me
you said, i won’t eat crumbs from yesterday
you said, i learned to swim in the depths
you said, tall buildings scare me
you said, I’ll show you secrets hidden in the forest
you said, stay with me, and I felt
a sudden wind upon my shoulders

stronger than a triumph 
of the past


where that screeching remained
the cicadas’ ruthless legacy

where the still water’s memory 
lapped at the sinking shore

where the rocks crumbled slowly
surrendering to sin

there your body is a lonely fish
caught in the bloodstream

anchored deep
in a dream


before reaching memory’s shore
we must swim across
the ocean of oblivion

the water is deep and so
Boreas shall bear us up
on his shoulders
exultant cries like sea gulls
shall escape
our hearts

and then
i’ll teach you
how to walk
upon the water


the rock in your body disintegrated
into a handful of stones and sand

the cypress of your sharp sight
has bent like a willow

your bronze legs softened

and thousands of miles traveled
through life

shrank to a miniature

(before the world flooded)

the mountain in you has awakened
into a river

the birds on your shoulders

your silence cascaded
like a waterfall

water that will cleanse
the memories from your face,


For other contributions by Patricia Nikolova, please follow the links below:

Poetry in this post: © Patricia Nikolova
Published with the permission of Patricia Nikolova