A Collector of Amorous Sentences, Interview with Alexander Sekulov by Silviya Choleva

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Writer Alexander Sekulov watches English football, dreams of the lights of the Aegean and writes without editing
He lives in Plovdiv, his mother is Greek and his father is an actor. Born in 1964, the writer was captivated by the theatre before graduating in Bulgarian philology and developing a serious interest in literature. He studied in the Secondary School for Stagecraft together with artist Kolyo Karamfilov and producer Dimitar Mitovski. Literature and journalism prevailed and he has published three verse collections, a book of essays, a play and a novel entitled A Collector of Amorous Sentences. Dubbed “an exquisite novel”, it is a joint project with artist Atanas Hranov, whose pictures are part of the book. The first edition is already out of stock. “This is an ‘oval book’ whose vagrant hero is Nasko H.,” the writer says. “You can start from page 77 or page three, you can read it backwards or from the middle, there is no required linearity, you can proceed as you like. I don’t think that a work of art has to be a maze with a beginning and an end.”

A writer and journalist, Alexander Sekulov is also the proprietor of the Konyushnite na tsarya, or the King’s Stables, and Petnoto na Rorschach, or Rorschach’s Spot, clubs in Plovdiv.

How do you combine writing books with managing two bars in Plovdiv?

You have also worked as a journalist.Writing books and running pubs are two forms of existence in space. If they are genuine, they are both safe harbours you go back to. And you leave them intoxicated. Man has an in-built syntax and whatever he does, it shows. In my case this probably means that you can analyse my books by immersing yourself in the world of pubs and liquor.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer?

I am doing everything I would do if I weren’t a writer. This is the reason I am becoming even more of a writer. Writing is increasingly absorbing my personality, it “displaces” a growing part of my inner space. I like it more and more and I am definitely surprised by this fact. I think that a man who writes rediscovers writing several times in his life. He falls in love with it and experiences amorous levitation again and again. For this reason he has to forget about writing at times; to separate from it. Talent is a remote island which you can set foot on from time to time, but you can’t live on it forever.

What is it like to live in a city like Plovdiv?

What is your favourite place there?The countryside and the sea bring harmony to life. A harmonious life gives you eternity. Thus, the countryside is eternity bestowed on man and the capital is eternity denied. Besides, time is a notion synonymous with aristocratism. Hence Plovdiv is an aristocratic city and Sofia is a proletarian one.

You are both friends and a creative duo with artist Atanas Hranov. What does this mean to you?

In a friendship, man has to grow up every day. As for “Nasko” Hranov, we gave each other an almost unnatural levity and cheerfulness during our joint travels. Everything he does – from canvas, paint, wood, bronze, silver or plaster – is a proof that the world I see actually exists. I hope my writing works in an equally powerful way for him.

Do you have any writer’s secrets?

I have always written quickly. With almost no corrections. Recently, with no fear either. In an increasingly happy way. And, probably, in an increasing irresponsible way too. I never knew that writing can bring you such lightness and joy.

What occupies you when you are at home: books, music, films?

English football. Lots of it. For the game and the art. For the culture. For the feeling of civilisation.

How would you describe yourself as a person?

I am an emotional oyster with brief surges of gaiety. Only the feeling of family and friends can pull me out of this state for a long time. I also tend to be quick on forming an idea and when others around me are ready to follow me I’ve already grown tired of it and have long since abandoned it.

The craziest thing that you have done and don’t want your son to know about?

I’d share the craziest thing with my son.

Is there a substitute for love?

Love and time are synonyms. When you are out of love you are out of life. Consequently, we live a very short life. This is why our universe is so empty, with such large voids between the stars. They are moments of love that we have experienced.

The last sentence you wrote?

Since the beginning of April I’ve been running a blog, www.podigotoblog.bg, containing my daily column “Under the Yoke”, which dates from 1993. There I wrote: “Isn’t the seed of death planted in us that small, green shoot that we have to nurse, care for and carry in our shaking hands until it finally blossoms into an amazing singing crown swaying in the eternal wind above our heads?”

You said once that Plovdiv is a city that travels and this is enough for you. Where are you heading for this summer, when the heat in the city becomes unbearable?

My plans involve the Peloponnesian islands – Ithaca, Zakynthos… Wherever Captain Klisurov’s yacht will take us. And, as usual, the white light of the Aegean, where the sky does not dream of horizons.

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