Ivan Hristov


Dear Mother,
I died
but I didn’t go to heaven,
instead I arrived in Bdin.
The postman
on his rustyUkrainebicycle**
frequently passes by,
thus, contrary to all laws,
you will have news
from me.
To tell you the truth,
I haven’t gotten very far here either,
since I’ve never been much good with languages.
I have remained a poet.
But being a poet among the mute
is like being an undertaker
in the Beyond.
(By the way,
I saw the graves of Levski and Botev***.)
My contemporaries
have long since become classics,
while I’m left munching sunflower seeds
on the edge of the Canon.
Otherwise, I tend the Tsar’s sheep,
and thus earn my daily bread.
I have met two kinds of people.
Some say –
“We’ll divert the river here!”
Others say –
“We’ll divert the river there!”
My mind was torn,
I sat in the middle.
The water poured
over me.
As before,
I have no companions.

I walk alone on the banks of the river.
I look upstream,
waiting for it to bring
either a chest of drawers,
or a votive candle,
or a nest to build a home in,
or to meet the woman
I love.

*The medieval name of the town Vidin
**A brand of bicycles made in the USSR
*** Vasil Levski, the leader of the national liberation movement in the
19th century, was betrayed and hanged; the location of his grave is unknown.
Hristo Botev, a poet and revolutionary, was killed in battle during
the national liberation uprising in 1876; the location of his grave is unknown,
as well

Ivan Hristov was born in 1978 in Borovo, Bulgaria. In 1996 he graduated from the National Aprilov High School in Gabrovo with a major in Culture, Aesthetics and Art History. In 2002, he graduated from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” with a master’s degree in Bulgarian Philology. In 2001 he won first prize for poetry in the National Student Literary Competition Shumen 2001. In 2002 his first book of poetry, Sbogom Devetnajsti Vek (Farewell Nineteenth Century) was awarded the poetry debut prize in the national Southern Spring Contest. In 2004 his second book of poetry, Bdin, was published by Zhanet 45; this work won the Svetlostruy National Literary Award in 2006. In 2008 Ivan Hristov defended his doctoral dissertation in contemporary Bulgarian literature at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he won first prize in the poetry marathon at the Goran Spring Festival in Croatia. Ivan Hristov’s poetry has been translated into English, German, Hungarian and Croatian.
Angela Rodel: translator
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