Poems from the 2010 Sozopol Fiction Seminar

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The Sozopol Fiction Seminar, a yearly event held in Sozopol on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and organized by the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation for Creative Writing, in May 2010 celebrated its third edition.

Ten fellows, five Bulgarians and five native English speakers, attended morning fiction-writing workshops with Alek Popov and Elizabeth Kostova. Translation workshops were held in the afternoons which counted on the presence of international writers, editors and translators. Australian writer Alex Miller and Bulgarian writer Kristin Dimitrova then gave readings.

This heady mix of fiction, translation, lighthouses and sea breeze gave rise to a string of poems, the first of which to see the light of day was the following by translator Jonathan Dunne written on the minibus back from Sozopol to Sofia. Ivan Dimitrov and Niki Boikov soon followed suit, and their poems will be posted with an English translation in the coming days!

Sozopol, 2010

I translate from memory.

The dark room. Camera obscura. The place of making. Where light is reclaimed.

Death is an exhalation. The breath is drawn out of the body like a string of raw fish. Only the translator has to remember to breathe in again.

Failure is not liking your reflection in the mirror.

The sea is grey-green. The sky is grey-green. Only the lighthouse at night points the way.

The translator stands in no man’s land, crucified there where the grass will grow. By standing on the line, he negates what he doesn’t see, the eye slowly opening.

One contains every number bar one, which in chemistry isn’t written down anyway.

One wishes he were a haiku poet, the other wishes to get away. One wishes he had entered the church, the other wishes he had stayed.

The other is God (theos). The word is love. And we all will drown.

This thought has kept me awake.

Sozopol-Sofia, 31 May 2010

Posted by Jonathan Dunne

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