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TRANSLATIONS

 

A Visit to the Clockmaker

A Visit to the Clockmaker
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Kristin Dimitrova. Translated from Bulgarian by Gregory O'Donoghue
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Kristin Dimitrova exploits quirky, often dark, humour, intelligence, irony, wit, dialogue, in a low-key minimalist, frequently open-ended style. Constantly reversing expectations, hers is a refreshing poetry of sharp individuality. A significant voice in the new Bulgarian poetry (which began to emerge in the early 1990s) she is, quite simply, a poet of the first rank.

What the critics have said:

"She comes across as utterly clear in what she has to say, with a touch of anarchy and a glib sense of irony, epigrammatic and intriguing whether in short or long poems." -Books Ireland

"For me, the gem of the books is to be found in the translations by Gregory O'Donoghue of Bulgarian poet Kristin Dimitrova, whose mordant, skewed perspective on the world is rendered in precise, sharp language that allows her to ask serious questions in witty poems." -The Irish Book Review

"Dimitrova is adept. She handles language with supreme dexterity and can startle an insight from its cover in very few words." - The Penniless Press

 

Selected Poems from A Visit to the Clockmaker

 

Searching for an Answer

 

I asked the sky

“Why am I here?”

it swallowed

my words & waited for more.

 

I wondered

what else I could add.

 

I asked the earth

“Why am I here?”

it shrugged its mountains.

 

I asked the fire

“Why am I here?”

Busily crackling

it did not hear a word.

 

I went to the well

& asked the water

“Why am I here?”

— “Come down to me

& I will tell you.”

 

“Actually” I said

“I was only asking”.

 

__________

 

“The Messenger does not Matter”

 

Three hooded men have long

been walking the clouds

asking about you.

 

But you know, of course.

 

You breed pet moths in your room

& move chessmen, waiting for an answer.

 

It comes late, with your voice.

 

“Is that my voice?”

 

Yes, your own voice

 

            now,

            under the dying candlelight

            you will jump faster & faster.

 

“I’d rather not.”

 

Oh, really!

 

Lie down

get up

lie down

get up

& copy life

in soft letters.

 

__________

 

Noah, the Carrier

 

Noah, told it differently.

 

To the Jewish delegation he said

after the raven he had sent out a dove —

Lo! She returned with an olive leaf.

 

The dove is the white herald of joy, pure soul of the innocent

foretokening new life.

 

The founding fathers approved the tale

& include it.

 

To Gilgamesh, however, he put it like this:

 

I sent out a dove but she came back.

I sent out a swallow, she also returned.

Finally, I sent a raven:

never saw him again—

then I knew he had found

dry land & prey.

 

The raven is the black warrior among birds, a circling cut

in the good sky, first witness of the last transformation.

 

This was the language of Gilgamesh.

 

Left to himself,

Noah murmured

 

“Truth does not

make a good myth

yet only myth can carry it.”

 

He could clearly remember

it was the flies

that discovered the ark.

 

Copyright ©2005 Kristin Dimitrova

English translation Copyright ©2005 Gregory O'Donoghue

 

 

Kristin Dimitrova

 

Kristin Dimitrova was born in 1963 in Sofia, Bulgaria. One of the defining Bulgarian poets of her generation, Dimitrova has published the collections Jacob’s Thirteenth Child (1992), A Face Under the Ice (1997), Closed Figures (1998), Faces with Twisted Tongues (1998), Talisman Repair (2001), and The People with the Lanterns (2003). In 2002, a selection of Dimitrova’s work was published in a trilingual volume in Bulgarian, Greek and English. She has received many awards for her work, including the 1996 Poems of the Year Award Zlaten Lanets, the Vek 21 weekly Best Poetry award for 1997, the Golden Metaphor AB Publishers’ Annual Award for 1997 and 1998, and the Ivan Nikolov Award for 1997 and 1998. She lives in Sofia.

 

Gregory O'Donoghue

 

 

Gregory O’Donoghue was born in Cork in 1951, son of the poet and playwright Robert O’Donoghue. He studied English literature in UCC under Sean Lucy and John Montague and was part of what Thomas Dillon Redshaw has described as “that remarkable generation” which also included Theo Dorgan, Maurice Riordan, Gerry Murphy, Thomas McCarthy and Séan Dunne.  After completing an M.A. he studied for a doctorate at Queen’s College Ontario, Canada where he taught and was married for the first time.

O’Donoghue published his first book Kicking (1975) with the Gallery Press when he was just 24 and became the youngest poet to be included in the Faber Book of Irish Verse. Later he crossed the Atlantic to settle in Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom where he worked freight trains between South Derbyshire and King’s Cross, Nottingham and Skegness. His book Making Tracks (Dedalus 2001) contains many of the poems recounting such experiences.  

In the early 1990s he returned to Cork where he started to write again after many years of silence. He published an interim collection The Permanent Way with the local Three Spires Press and subsequently became workshop leader at the Munster Literature Centre and poetry editor of the journal Southword. In 2005 he died unexpectedly and his final collection Ghost Dance (Dedalus) was published posthumously in 2006.

 

 

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