Irena Ivanova (Rene Karabash) graduated from Applied Linguistics (English and French) at the Veliko Turnovo University "St. St. Cyril and Methodius "and a master's degree in Theater Directing from New Bulgarian University. He is a Fellow at Western Catholic University in Angers, France.
Author of the poems "Thighs and Butterflies" (Janet 45, 2015) - nominated for the Ivan Nikolov National Award. Her texts have been included in world poetry anthologies; They have been translated into Slovenian, Spanish, Greek, English, Czech and Turkish.
In 2016 he became one of the founders of the Valery Petrov Creative Academy. A year later, already alone, Irena Ivanova formed the Bunny Dupka Creative Academy. She is also the creator of the Experimental Studio and a theater director. And for his role in the film Bezbog, he has received numerous awards from festivals - Silver Leopard (Locarno), Heart of Sarajevo (Sarajevo), Aluminum Horse (Stockholm), Golden Rose (Varna).
I met with Irena Ivanova in Veliko Turnovo, on 15 June, shortly after the audio-visual presentation of her debut novel, Ostaynitsa (Jeanette 45, 2018).
"Restroom" is a story about a clash, about the divide between the individual and the public, between children and the wishes of their parents, an expressive account of personality formation. For the design of others, imagine in us the painful wear and tear, the mental strains, the wounds in and out of consciousness, the signs of impossible fulfillment, the vowels and ungodly punishments we endure in order to survive in order to live. The book confronts us with Albanian blood feuds, sending us into the circle of preserved violent laws. Questions about the roles of the executioner and the victim, their reflections in each of us, the broken strands of ethics, the relationships between people and their multifaceted reflections go beyond the artistic realities of reality, come closer and provoke us to think.
Here is what Irena Ivanova shared about the novel, about her work, about the plot and ideas, about the impulses of the poetic in prose, about her creative choices and intentions.
Why did you decide to write a novel after the success of Buttons and Butterflies? How did the idea of "Stay" come about? What gave rise to the desire to write in another form?
For a long time, I have needed to say more that goes beyond the poem. In parallel with poetry, I also write prose, but it is not published. I have short stories, short stories. I just haven't collected enough for a collection. I needed to say something in a larger form, though my novel is quite poetic in itself. There is a lot of poetry in it, but it follows the structure of the novel.
I wanted to show the world that I see, the environment I grew up in, which is no different than the environment of others. How traumas are formed in a person, in his early childhood, are the small events that distinguish him later as a person and somehow prevent him from being who he is. Everyone has some traumas. For each trauma, the ego builds a mask - a mask of a masochist, of a controlling one, depending on the trauma. I wanted to show how something much bigger, which is much more difficult to solve, follows from small events and events. And we need to think about it, fighting every day to get closer to God and ourselves.
I'm talking about God not very religiously, but God-man. For God, who is within us and beyond us, because for me religion is nowadays utterly perverted and not spoken of at all in modern language. Very often I talk about God and I will not stop talking about him. Some people clatter and say, "Is this some godly book?" In fact, everyone should think of God, of that power that is above you and within you. There is a God in all of us. At least it manifests itself when we create - as he created the world. When we create, then we are more than human.
What was more difficult - achieving a particular form, building a novel structure or mastering the flow, trying to channel ideas?
Both were quite difficult. Mastering the style itself, to get into the structure of the novel at all, was difficult. The style I used is a stream of consciousness, and no matter how it seems, as it flows, it flows freely, it has its own structure.
Each chapter is a story in itself. First I made the skeletons of the novel and then stuffed it on it. That was a big challenge for me. It took me quite a while. I worked on the novel for two years. Separately, studies on Albanian girls have also taken me a long time and reading about them, reading research, literature.
Expressing the topics was difficult rather from an emotional point of view. Inserting a very strong emotion into this form is like having a very stormy sea and trying to swim in it. I just had to let the stormy sea rock me back and forth… Then something complete could happen.
How does the poetic function in the book? How do the poems and letters in the novel affect his course? What did they serve you for? Why did you need it?
The flow of consciousness as a style is difficult to read. As a reader and writer, I needed a place to relax. Places where you can read a correctly written text, rest, return and then enter the stormy sea again. Maybe it's because I'm a big fan of Dangerous Relationships, which is a completely epistolary novel.
But the communication between my brother and sister in the novel (The Rest of the Novel) was very important to me, and it happens through letters.
About poetry - the novel itself begins with a poem. I used the so-called a fugue in which parts of the poem, which is in the beginning, open their heads. Otherwise, each chapter itself is poetically written. There are metaphors, associations. Everything is one whole and if something is removed, the puzzle falls apart. At the beginning, there were questions: "Why are there no capital letters or dots?" The novel goes like energy - with commas to take in the air and move on.
How relevant are you to such questions? Do you value critical reviews of the novel? To what extent do opinions about your artwork affect your writing?
When I was writing the novel, I didn't think who was going to say anything. I didn't care. I broke all the norms of both writing and story content. It can be said that this is a romance rebellion for our generation. But so far, the critical reviews are extremely positive, with serious names, and they just make me happy. From then on, if anyone has a problem with the capital letters, let him or her write a capital letter and a capital letter. I do not mind. This is my way of expressing myself. I think it comes from and affects the reader emotionally, touches it. This is the most important thing for me. Style is simply the form in which history is clothed.
Why did you choose to tell this story exactly? Which came first - the desire to express certain ideas or the story of Albanian girls?
The wish was first, but I actually liked the topic. I started working on it because it is radical. I needed a radical topic that would make the reader sympathize with her, to realize the harsh laws that what happens there happens in Bulgaria, but simply the laws are not written here. The topic seems distant, but in our country similar boundaries are set. They are moral, but they also affect the freedom that is being talked about, democracy and freedom of speech, the freedom to be who you want to be. I wanted to make the readers say to themselves: - “What we read is horrible!” To realize that it happens to us, to each person - to make choices, to go against himself, to betray the other, to gives forgiveness. I have stripped the man from the package (male or female) and brought to the fore the soul, the man, God… In fact, the search for God is not in matter, but in the ephemeral.