cover image Clay and Star: Contemporary Bulgarian Poets

Clay and Star: Contemporary Bulgarian Poets

Lisa Sapinkopf, Editor, Georgi Belev, Editor, Georgi Alaikov, Illustrator Milkweed Editions $15 (227p) ISBN 978-0-915943-85-2

This volume collects works by 27 contemporary Bulgarian poets, beginning with Alexander Gerov (b. 1919) and concluding with the postwar generation. In general, the often stimulating visual imagery makes it possible for these effective translations to stand on their own in English. In Ivan Davidkov's ``Monastery,'' for instance, the poet conjures saints descending from icons and performing a mysterious and beautiful nightly ritual: ``Slowly they took off / their baggy, wornout robes, / took off their halos so they wouldn't disturb their sleep / and hung them on the wall on nails / like children's hoops.'' Many of these poets have worked as translators and one senses the influence of other literatures. It is interesting to find links to a shared modern Western tradition, but the strong echoes of other voices sometimes overpower. Miriana Basheva's ``Morning,'' for example (``Where was I last night? In whose arms? / I remember only some lips beside my heart''), comes rather too close to early love poems by Anna Akhmatova. It would have been useful had the translators included information about formal technique in the original poems. (Aug.)