You think, that under the earth there,
that we can become worthy.
Working out of the companies,
we’ll gather enough money,
until wife and kids appear.
And you think: how straightforward,
a black sun shines from the height,
and from below naturally intrepid
shining ores open eyes up wide
like a man rising from his sick bed.
Really here’s how: you descend below,
you’ve dreamt of women your life around,
dressed in clothes from alcohol, and –
you suddenly look – time sleeps sound
over heaps of insipid manure…
And then you’ll say: life is but smoke!
Today let’s make the link
with the eternal. Let’s dream our dreams in pink,
as we turn into stony coke!
Translation: Christopher Buxton
The English translation of the poem has been published first in the book New Social Poetry – The Anthology (CreateSpace 2018).
Ani Ilkov (born 1957 in the village of Ruzhintsi, Vidin) graduated from the English Secondary School in Vidin and later from Bulgarian Philology at the St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, where he later became a lecturer in the National Revival Literature, after a year of work at the Metallurgical Workshop in Kremikovtzi. He was guest lecturer in Great Britain (1997-99, 2010-2013), and in India (2006-2007). His research interests are in the field of Revival and Modern Literature. Ilkov is teaching Bulgarian literature and Creative Writing. Ilkov was Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Literary Forum and was one of the founders of the Literary Journal. Author of the following poetry collections: “Love to Nature” (1989; 2004), “Fields and Bridges” (1990), “Lovers” (1991), “The Spring of the Grotesque” (1994), “Etymologies” (1999), “The Beasts of August” (1999), “The Little Asian of the Soul” (2004), “Selected Poems” (2011), “Preparation to leave the Heart” (2015), and “Dreamers” (2016). He published also several monographs, dramatic works and a volume with collected political pamphlets. Ilkov is considered one of the most important postmodern poets in Bulgaria. He received a number of national awards for his poetry. Ani Ilkov is one of the most influential figures in contemporary Bulgarian poetry. “He is a master of the grotesque, the ugly, and the surreal, yet his attention to the material and spiritual banality of the everyday is almost documentary in its focus.” (Center for the Art of Translation)
Christopher Buxton graduated in English and American literature at the University of Kent. He first came to Bulgaria in 1977 as an English teacher in Burgas. He has had two novels published in Bulgaria, Far from the Danube and Prudence and the Red Baron and has also written a number of articles for Vagabond Magazine on contemporary Bulgarian social, cultural and political issues. Some of his translations of Bulgarian classic literary texts can be found on hisblog. They include stories by Yovkov and Elin Pelin, poetry by Kiril Christov, Ivan Vazov, Vladimir Bashev, and Christo Fotev. He has recently published two books with the poetry of Peyo Yavorov and Dimcho Debelyanov and an anthology with classical Bulgarian poems in his own translation. He is a committee member of the British Bulgarian Friendship Society. Together with his wife, he is running Black Sea Oleander Press, a small independent publishing house.
Photo credit: Ventsislav Arnaoudov; Christopher Buxton
This blog post is part of #BulgarianLiteratureMonth