Bulgarian readers already know Manuel Rivas from three books published in Bulgarian: his novels, The Carpenter’s Pencil and In the Wilderness, and his collection of short stories, Vermeer’s Milkmaid. This is the first time his poetry has appeared, including selected poems from his first five poetry books and the whole of The Disappearance of Snow. The style of Rivas’ poetry, like that of his fiction, is magical, intriguing and up-to-date. His talent as a journalist makes him appealing even when he talks about past events. His metaphorical expression, dense and surrealistic, doesn’t differentiate between poetry and prose. In his poetry he deals with unexpected comparisons, which topple over one another, borrowing images from far and close, like the Classical and Baroque architecture of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Manuel Rivas builds up the structure of his works with clear, plain writing, showing modesty towards God and the environment.
Samira Negrouche, born in 1980, is an Algerian poet who writes in French. She is the author of several poetry collections and translates from Arabic into French. She is general secretary of the Algerian PEN Club and the initiator of CADMOS, an association for the preservation of Mediterranean cultural heritage. Her work has been translated into Italian and Spanish. Her style is marked by a feminine sensitivity which finds its reflection in an unexplored cartography of the body. Her prose poems bear witness to the condition of the contemporary world and to changes in Arabic countries and beyond. Current themes exist only to attract the attention of the artist, who is the only one who can see their enigma.
Kiril Vasilev’s book Provinces gravitates somewhere between a post-Christian, metaphysical understanding of the world, as described by the critic and poet Ani Ilkov, and the topos not as a centre, but a periphery that has become endless and appeals not for modernity, but for compassion for the death of a human being. This book stands out because of the aesthetics of its stanza, measure, appearance and relevance. It floods abundantly and heavily like the lower current of a river whose alluvium can change even the colour of the sea. A book which will undoubtedly also change our daily routine and point of view.
In this novel, happiness and unhappiness follow one another, while happiness is just a spark in the night. The heroes who live in an oppressed, poor and monotonous atmosphere are like patches in the background of fertile nature and the wondrous, wild company of mice, moles, lizards and other animals, their reincarnated fellow villagers. And yet everybody manages to find his own mercy and comfort. The bored housewife in a former classmate who puts flowers in her garden, introducing beauty into her daily life. The dumb brother in the princess of the tales who lives behind three golden rings and is protected by a wild pig. The rich lady in her friendship with a neighbour, sharing her life as if it were a story from the Titanic. In Manuel Rivas’ works, magic and realism follow their most classical structure, but with a simplicity and use of metaphor that border on high poetry.
Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) is considered the founder of modern Galician literature. She wrote three major books of poetry: two in Galician, Galician Songs and New Leaves, and one in Spanish, On the Banks of the Sar. Nourished by the popular songs the author heard around her, Galician Songs was first published in 1863 and dedicated on 17 May, the date that a hundred years later, in 1963, would become Galician Literature Day. In her poetry, there is a little from all the world and a lot from Galicia. There are brides who mourn for their bridegrooms, gone abroad to become workers; there is unrequited love, lamented by both maidens and bachelors; there is sorrow for the abandoned homeland and sorrow for the homeland that is shared, equal to God’s blessing in its fertility. Without being religious, this poetry is rich in spirituality from the Holy Scriptures, from the scriptures of our ancestors. Without being balladic or dramatic, there are places where the text speaks with the voice of Shakespeare or with that of the Bulgarian classics Slaveykov and Bagriana.
Petja Heinrich (Sofia, 1973) is a poet, blogger and cyclist who talks to birds. She is the author of five poetry collections, and the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine No Poezia. She received second place in the National Slaveykov Award for poetry in 2010. Her poetry is experimental, sensitive and philosophical. It makes you think of it as a mathematical equation. And it keeps your passion alive until you manage to solve it. It has numerous variants and an open end.
Zsuzsa Beney was a poet, literary critic and doctor specializing in lung disease. She worked as a doctor in Budapest and at the same time was a doctor in philology. She wrote poems, essays and novels, carried out translations and scientific research. Central themes of her poetry are pain, the mirror images of existence and non-existence, life’s paradoxes. Objectless Existence is one of her final works, dedicated to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a comprehensive, Homer-like poem about death. Beney won many literature awards, including the Radnoti Award for lifetime achievement and the award of the Hungarian Writers’ Association.
Edvin Sugarev is assistant professor at New Bulgarian University, a poet and publicist. All his life he has written a large amount, always unreasonably. He is the author of twenty-two poetry collections, one novel, four books of criticism and literary history, several books of current affairs and hundreds of articles in magazines. He has been the publisher of the magazine Most, editor-in-chief of the weekly Literaturen vestnik and director of the newspaper Demokratsiya. He has worked in a variety of jobs: as a postman, MP, ambassador to Mongolia and India, and so on. His book of fragments is a reflection on life in which natural phenomena gravitate around the author’s erudition and philosophical depths. “Everything is said,” writes Sugarev, “but everything has long been forgotten and has to be said again.”
Lois Pereiro is the most charismatic Galician poet. A rebel and follower of the surrealist movement, he died at the same age as Christ as a result of accidental poisoning, a drug addiction and Aids. He left behind three poetry books, the first of them published posthumously. His work is filled with fantastic visions, with faith in resurrection in and through the other, and with life and poetry in “tonality”. He sends a message to us of anger towards a brutal world in comparison with the image of a flower and a revival for a new beginning.
Agustín Fernández Paz’s book can be called not a bestseller, but a thriller. Dealing with the known, but ending with the unknown. Suggesting the expected, but giving the reader the unexpected. Great love, a psychiatric hospital, exorcism and the unravelling of a plot which turns Freud, Jung and civilization upside down. People are a lonely crowd, under and over which the primary forces of nature prevail. They are like in a clamp, from which the only way out, though unreal, is the deceit of the megalopolis. A story so black it oozes tar, which stops you breathing.