Katerina Iliopoulou in translation

WAKING UP

Every day Mister T. wakes up inside a different person.
That is why he gets up very early.
Before dawn
He climbs the steps of the moments and he goes into the bathroom.
There he begins to peel away the scales of night.
The frozen streets, the bays and piers, the thick foliage and the loops of branches/ the indecipherable texts, the bloodthirsty virgins, the flocks of birds.

Once he is completely naked
He lays his eyes on the mirror
The way someone hangs his coat on a hook.
But instead of eyes he has two fishes.
Being a man of immense patience,
He lets the fisheyes swim freely in the mirror

In those moments he experiences the purest dream:
The dream of being no one
The most irredeemable solitude.
The pitch black crossword of the abyss.

An event that endows his features
With the quality we refer to as “depth”.
Shortly thereafter, the eyes return to their place.
Between them and the mirror a certain relationship has now evolved.
Thus, they may recognize one another.


translated by Konstantine Matsoukas


MISTER T. BY THE SEA

He picks up a pebble from the shore
Notices the pebble has the remarkable property
Of not having an inside and an outside.
The two coincide.
As he cannot think of anything else,
He decides the pebble is an enemy to the world and throws it away.
The pebble’s fall creates the effect known as “ a hole in the water”.
Mr T. feels immense attraction and an inexplicable envy towards the pebble.

So, he picks up another and puts it in his mouth.
At first it is salty.
It is a sea-thing.
Shortly after that, it is nothing.
A hard lump of silence in his mouth that absorbs his voice.

Nevertheless, to his surprise he realizes
That even without a voice, he can still speak.
Evidently his invocations are granted.
A flock of sea-birds lands by his feet.
When they fly away they leave behind an illegible text.
Mister T. bends down and begins to study it at once.

translated by Konstantine Matsoukas


THE GAP

Inside the house, in the front room there is a gap.
Actually it is a thin crack on the floor almost invisible.
Nothing to worry about. Except for the fact that the crack is not inert.
Often enough a draft of air is exuded smelling of dust and rust.
And of something else unidentifiable. Also that it has a voice.
Mostly it is mute. But every so often it produces a sound.
Sometimes he runs there, kneels and sniffs like a dog.
After, he steps away slowly infected by this chthonic, illicit vein.
He wears his coat then and opens the door.
More dangerous, pungent and sharp like a knife blade he walks.
A reaper of glances.
He tunes the song of the streets.
He sucks in the marrow of the evening.
From its hollow bone he makes a flute and quickly shoves it in his pocket like a killer.
His fingers stroke the holes.
But he doesn’t dare play.
It is not yet time to exhale.

translated by Konstantine Matsoukas


THE SIREN

The sheets are white pages.
Each night he writes, tirelessly.
Feverishly filling them
as they say poets do.

But in the morning the sheets are wild animals.
They are waves, a savage ocean undulating.
And from its depths a little siren often rises.

She softly looks at him and then
she takes out her eyes and offers them to him.
Two green glass marbles.
Mister T. doesn’t dare reach out.
But how he longs for their coolness and how his fingers
sway like sea-weeds
To touch them.

Her eyes would suck up all the dust
which is the hourglass of time.
They would turn blood into water
and lime walls into crystal.

Her offer is pending
but Mister T. keeps postponing it.
Who can bear to live in a transparent house?

translated by Konstantine Matsoukas



THE LEMON TREE

There is a lemon tree living in my yard
Which, in reality, is a wild tiger.
So I water it only from a distance.
She, nevertheless, manages to inflict her bites.
Often I wake up to find fresh cuts
And sometimes when I take a walk she grabs at my neck from behind.
Despite all that, I still love her
What other tree could digest silence so drastically in order to bear fruit?

Lemon
-----------------
Waxen totem of death
Self-luminous lust.

translated by Konstantine Matsoukas


HERE THERE EVERYWHERE FOREVER

I do not cultivate my garden in depth
I am only trying to cover the surface
Therefore, I plant footsteps.
If you strip waiting of all expectation
What is there left?
A constant presence.
To be sure, in order to be invariably present
You ought to learn to be absent.
Myself, I picked out a white dress.
Others invented different devices
For disappearing:
A bee-keeper’s outfit, for instance.
Yet others, set themselves up inside a window-frame
and stayed stock still.
It appears static, but it’s not.
Duration is to blame, which crystallizes it.
The mechanism is:
Vibration
Abandonment
Faith
Annihilation
Joy
Not in that order
And without the feeling


translated by Konstantine Matsoukas


News

'I like to use the languages of the various arts – literature, music, theatre...I think that is the spirit of the modern global era.'- poet Ivan Hristov spoke to SJ Fowler of 3AM magazine about the evolution of the contemporary Bulgarian poetry scene.

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Cosmin Borza discusses the work of Romania's 'Generation 2000' poets, including Radu Vancu and Claudiu Komartin in an essay at Asymptote.

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At the Sofia Poetics festival, which was organised by Word Express participant Ivan Hristov, Scottish based poet Ryan Van Winkle caught up with fellow festival guests SJ Fowler and Tomasz Rózycki. To hear Fowler and Rózycki discussing their work and reading some of their poetry, listen to the Scottish Poetry Library podcast here.

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