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 six 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 Literary 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 has written 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 the remarkable Jascha Kessler were published in her translations. The poetry of Joseph Brodsky (Odysseus to Telemachus, etc.) and immigrant stories by Sergei Dovlatov, poetry by the Polish dissidents Julian Tuwim, Aleksander Wat, et. al., have also appeared in her translations.



you’re not born yet but
i’m sending you these words
from a language vanished forever

to read when you’re born –
centuries hence

       here all is inundated now

here now are sunken stones and birds
embraced on the crowns of trees
impaled atop temples:
everything drowned

engulfed people with bubbling last words
with final efforts swim against the torrent
even the wisest can’t survive:
everything drowned

pierced galleys of pride gone down
imperial splendor deluged
mansions now hovels:
everything drowned

effulgent aeons cut short –

locked in libraries flooded
parchments from drowned scrolls
they swam like doomed dolphins
spewing billions of otiose
letters from their gills
filled with water

the last hope as a captain sank
on the ship drunk that united or divided us
to death

(what is death, you will ask,
                                                 born centuries to come)

Solon, look around:

bygone state regalia
rusting as anchors
on the frigid
ocean floor

fanaticism and dishonor have sunk
in the arms of soft seaweed
that slowly devours
the memory

they are eaten and drunk to the core with hatred and forgiveness
armed seers of future prison camps
mass shootings persecutions and scaffolds
sinister marathons with death
betrayals self-delusions murders
they sank as deep as if
they had never

              … what was it for or will it be all about?

I write these words
in a language no longer spoken
from a land existing no more
from the bottom of a world that is no longer holy
in the sinking Atlantis reflected as memory
on the gloomy wall of a submerged cave
beyond all things – seen or unseen –
here and now once or far away
whether it was or was not
remains unknown

when you are born

say that

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