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.

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

Arachne’s Harp

She played her web like a harp.
And with every sound she wove
fearful pictures of sorrow.

On the left, a trumpet call – the Peloponnesian War.
On the right, Kalashnikov and bombs.
Ahead – skyward pandemic and death.
Behind, concentration camps,
Gulag and Holocaust.

She played and cried, sobbed and played,
but could not stay the awful omen
of the spinning-wheel.
The goddess’ curse transformed her
to a spider evermore.

And from Arachne’s busy hands
trickled out each time the grief
of clairvoyant blood.


the footsteps awoke
the grass

the portals swing
no hinges

Helios is sitting
on a stone

the guards have long since fallen
all asleep

and there are
no signpost

no premonition
for catastrophe

away from the embraces
of the sea

the faint olive tree fell silent
in the temple

the wind – the cleaner of Atlantis
sweeps away

cities and people asleep
on the map

shadows play in Poseidon’s

birds are perched on invisible

they are gone but their voices

you and I are walking in the middle
of ruins


the armed expedition map
with deep battle scars

the perilous march routes
to victory or retreat

frontlines cutting across
a no man’s land beneath a no man’s sky

deep hidden mines
that forgot to explode

on your sleepless nights
when your fist clenched

while flames erupted
in the valves of your heart

The Fishermen of Knossos

There is some comfort to know:
the rough seas shall outlive us;
that this palm tree with leaf-like wings
will remember our every thought before
they’ve even flown from our lips.

There is mercy in that flash
when the heart races with Kronos –
passed out before the bloody horn of sunset
as if the euphoric birds above the waves
aren’t cause enough to be alive.

And though the fishermen of Knossos are now shadows,
they are more alive than the frescoes of deserted palace halls,
where clueless tourists grope, equating Minoan greatness
with effete linguistic crumbs of nowadays.
To them the Dorian chiton you wear
belongs to a hoplite panoply in a war
that never was.

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

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