Translations of Two Contemporary Bulgarian Poets:

Stoyanka Grudova and Marin Bodakov

by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer is the author of three poetry books, most recently The Porcupine of Mind (Broadstone Books, 2012). Her first poetry book, the bilingual The Air around the Butterfly (Fakel Express, 2009), won the 2010 Pencho’s Oak award, given annually to recognize literary contribution to contemporary Bulgarian culture.

She hosts “Accents” – a radio show for literature, art and culture on WRFL, 88.1 FM, Lexington, Kentucky. In January 2010, Katerina launched Accents Publishing. She is acting in the lead role in the independent feature film Diamond Days, to be released in 2013.



Translator's Note:

I’ve known Stoyanka Grudova and Marin Bodakov for over twenty years, and I’ve admired them both personally and professionally from the very beginning.

Marin and I are the same age, and we started publishing together in our teens in the same literary journals and magazines. In the late 1990s I immigrated to the United States, while Marin remained in Sofia and established himself in the service of literature with his journalistic work, reviews and poetry. He is the author of five poetry books, and during 2011 he won the Ivan Nikolov prize for poetry. 

Stoyanka Grudova is a woman in her sixties. I believe this is the first time her poetry has been translated into English. She writes poems for both adults and children, and her latest book, “i the fish” won the Hristo Forev award for 2012. Stoyanka was one of my poetry teachers and the leader of the poetry group I attended. Years later, in 2008, Poezia writing group in Lexington, Kentucky, was based on the model of openness, welcoming and generosity I’ve seen in the original group in Bourgas, Bulgaria.

Translating Marin and Stoyanka’s poems has been both joy and honor to me. I hope the readers of Still: the Journal enjoy the works and feel connections to these wonderful authors, for all of us are more similar than we are different, no matter where we live and what language we use to write.

                   --Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

          Stoyanka Grudova


и самотата има двойник
също като гъбите
отровна и ядлива

едната ти се кланя
с червената си шапчица
а другата те гледа
усмихната на точици

по синята й кръв ще я познаеш
която часовете ти брои

Picking Loneliness

loneliness too has a double
just like mushrooms
poisonous and edible

one bows to you
with its red hat
the other watches you
smiling with polka dots

by its blue blood you’ll recognize
which one counts your hours


още недей да ме раждаш мамо
знам  че когато напусна недрата ти
всички граници ще ме обсебят
ще ме разчленят на добро и зло
на сладко и горчиво на светлосенки
на дребни съставни части а тук
съм  все още едно със звездите
навсякъде и само в теб
изначална и безадресна
здраво прораснала любов

Memory from the Womb

don’t give birth to me yet mom
i know when i leave your depths
all borders will possess me
will partition me into good and evil
into sweet and bitter into light and shadow
into small components but here
i am still one with the stars
everywhere and in you only
primordial and without an address
heartily grown love



          Marin Bodakov

Половин смърт

Есента идва
със скоростта, с която потъмнява
едва обеленият патладжан,
идва в червения лук на окото.
Есента идва с репликата на стар приятел:
„Поне да се бяхме сбили,
вместо да падаш сам.“

Half a Death

Fall arrives
with the speed at which
the just-peeled eggplant darkens,
arrives in the red onion of the eye.
Fall arrives with the retort of an old friend:
“At least we could have gotten into a fight
Instead of you falling alone. “

Кал по дланта

Под дъжд, изчерпил своето търпение,
дъжд от майска вода и от пръст,
в компанията на любопитно куче,
оставени обаче без надзор,
те не бяха приключили окончателно.
На следващия ден заварихме купчина мазна пръст до пояс,
натрупана мокра пръст под пейката, извън, в краката му,
нямаше как, с домашна лопатка дозаринах баща си.
Бих предпочел това да е метафора

Mud on My Palm

Under the rain, having run out of patience,
rain of May water and dirt,
in the company of a curious dog,
left, however, without supervision,
they hadn’t entirely finished.
On the next day we were faced with a pile of greasy dirt up to the waist,
wet dirt piled under the bench, out, at his feet,
there was no other way, with my little homemade shovel, I finished burying my dad.
I wish this were a metaphor.