Alexandra Evtimova is a poet, writer, philologist and translator, but above all, she is a sunny, positive, gentle and captivating personality. She was born in 1995 in the beautiful Bulgarian town of Byala Slatina. She graduated English with a second foreign language Spanish at Veliko Turnovo University "St. St. Cyril and Methodius. " He is a member of the Emiliyan Stanev Literary Discussion Club (led by Prof. Nikolay Dimitrov) at the same university. Alexandra is fluent in the language of Shakespeare and the language of Cervantes. So far, there have been two published books - a collection of essays and short stories "Future Time in the Present" (2009) and a novel "Keep the Heart" (2013, published by Media Group - Ivo Yordanov). In 2016 he won the National Literary Award "Georgi Chernyakov" in the category "Humor and satire". In 2017, she won two awards in the same competition - first in the Prose category and first in the Poetry category. The themes prevalent in her poems are internal conflict, the missing, the (not) realized one.
In addition to writing poetry and reading, Alexandra loves to travel and explore new worlds and cultures. She has lived in Spain, Portugal and England. He has been a resident of Columbia for the past two years, and until recently has taught English at a prestigious private academy. In 2019, her poems in Spanish appeared on the pages of the seventh edition of the poetic almanac "The Albatross of Poetry" in Manizales, Colombia. That same year, Alexandra took part in the XVI edition of the Castello di Duino International Poetry and Theater Competition, where she was honored with a special UNESCO prize for the English-language poem "I Am Not" on the subject of racism.
Today, Alexandra and I talk about poetry, languages, and an ambitious project that, with the power of the poetic word, has a great chance of creating lasting links between Bulgaria and Colombia.
Are Bulgaria and Colombia Different? What is the perception of the Colombians about us Bulgarians?
Bulgarians are more melancholic, nostalgic, restless, closed-minded. I do not know whether you understand me. Closed in the sense that we are not so expressive. The people here are pretty close to each other and talk, talk, talk. Their family ties are very strong; they are dependent on each other. Colombians do not know much about Bulgarians. They do not distinguish between Romanian, Bulgarian, French, English. To them, we are Europeans and look the same. I think they see us as more serious, distant and more boring, maybe. Their perception of Bulgarians overlaps with that of Europeans, which is generally positive: we read more, we are more educated, with a better quality of life in terms of peace and security. They admire Europeans, but they think they are more serious and colder. Colombia is the happiest country, and I think Bulgaria is one of the most melancholy. Colombians are always positive about anything that happens.
How did the idea to translate poems about "Bridge between Bulgaria and Colombia" come about? Tell us more about this project…
When I started attending literary events and meeting artists from Colombia, I wanted to tell them and show them to Bulgaria. I had to translate my poems first, of course. I wanted to show them poems from our authors, and vice versa - to show their poems to Bulgarian creators. I thought it would be nice to be able to translate them, but at the same time I wasn't sure about myself. That was last year, but back then I still didn't have as high a level of Spanish as confidence. Besides, I was busy - I had many hours as an English teacher. Mentally, I felt very exhausted. I could not begin such a project. Now that I've left work, a pandemic has happened and I had to stay home, I regained my creative energy and decided to start this project. The Bridge between Bulgaria and Colombia focuses on contemporary Bulgarian and Colombian poetry. I first started with poems from friends, people I know, but the project is starting to grow and become more popular. More and more people are sending me poems, which makes me very happy. Moreover, the issue of publishing a Bulgarian-Colombian poem is already under discussion. Very excited!
You speak fluent English as well as Spanish, which is actually your second foreign language. They say that when you learn a new language, it's like falling in love. Was that the case with you? What made you fall in love with Spanish?
Yes, I agree with the statement about falling in love. I fell in love with Spanish. I liked it from a young age, though I didn't understand it very much back then. I liked Spanish music. I very much wanted to visit Spanish-speaking countries and learn the language. Now this is like a dream come true and with each passing day I fall in love with Spanish more and more.
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Lorca or Neruda? Or in other words, which poetry touches you more deeply - Latin American or Spanish?
Frankly, I like Latin poetry more, maybe because I read more and know it better. Plus, I live here in Colombia, and it makes me feel closer to myself. I know how people think, how they express themselves, how they perceive the world.
What is poetry about for you?
It is a little difficult for me to express what poetry is to me. In the last few years I have been writing more poetry than prose. I think the reason is my grandmother, who died three years ago. It was a big blow for me. Before I wrote poetry, I told her what I was writing about. The connection between us was very special. After she died, I think her absence makes me write more. It's kind of an inspiration to me, kind of an incentive to say the unspoken things.
Every Sunday at 22:30 pm bulgarian time Alexandra makes a video stream with poetic reading of poems translated by her in her personal profile on Facebook.
Do you have any favorite poets and who are they?
I don't know if I have a favorite poet, but I have favorite poems. My favorite poem in Bulgarian is from Georgi Gospodinov. It's called Departure. I'll recite it to you:
The edge of the word is sharp,
coming against me,
it scolds me.
Something bad tell me
From the personal experience of a person who has visited and got to know several countries, would she share what young artists are excited about in different parts of the world? How do English, Spanish and Bulgarian poetry affect you?
English poetry is different from Bulgarian and Spanish. It is somehow more conventional, more existential. I think we, young poets, are interested in topics like missing, death, trauma, or maybe I am focusing on these things, which is why I am more impressed. I find Spanish poetry more sensual, more expressive. English poetry makes me think more. In contemporary Bulgarian poetry I have noticed a specific theme that excites poets - time; who I am in time, who I was yesterday, who I am today, who I will be tomorrow.
What inspires you - the happenings and patterns of surroundings or universal social themes?
A combination of both.
You create poetry in Bulgarian, English and Spanish. In what language do you really manage to recreate your lyrical world?
English gives me complete freedom. I feel infinitely free to write in English for anything. I feel like I can fully reveal myself. Spanish unlocks my more romantic side. In general, I do not write love poetry, or rather I am not so attracted to it. But in Spanish I do. That's how my language affects me. In Bulgarian, I may recreate another country in my lyrical world. I noticed that I write a lot about the shortcomings. For a long time, I haven't actually written in Bulgarian. I attribute it to the fact that I am farther from home, and as you mentioned it - falling in love - I am in love with Spanish at the moment and write about it quite often. But perhaps the most comfortable and free I feel when I write in English. For the moment, through it, I can best express myself.
You've got a storybook. I think you have a good command of the art of short story. Do you follow certain principles, or when your inspiration engulfs you, words come alone?
I do not follow certain principles. When I was writing prose I was trying to write more often because when you have an idea you say "I can write it later" and with poetry everything happens at the moment.
Do you have nostalgia for Bulgaria?
I feel nostalgic for my family and meetings with friends and creators from Bulgaria. I miss the literary readings, the events, our circle. The feeling of being in Bulgaria gives me peace of mind, but for now I know that this is not my path. I do not know if I would return to live in Bulgaria. I know I need to be somewhere else right now. Otherwise I feel nostalgic for Europe as well. As much as we think we are different, we Europeans share a lot in common. Sometimes I miss the freedom, security and certain moments of everyday life.
Should we expect a new solo poem in the near future?
Yes, I work on a poetry collection. I have a lot of ideas and I want it to be published in Bulgarian, English and Spanish. I have not yet decided whether to experiment with making a mix of languages or releasing it separately.
In the world of the internet, many poets and writers choose to write poetry not on paper, but on electronic media - smartphones, tablets, computers. In the Western countries, only poetry is published in electronic form. This gave birth to a new cultural form, namely electronic poetry. What do you think about this phenomenon? What are the attitudes of the artists in your environment? Would you publish your next poem only electronically?
I usually write on electronic media, sometimes on paper, but translations always make them on electronic media. As for publishing, I'm still a fan of paper format. I was considering publishing a poem only electronically. This is a good opportunity, but I think in the end I would choose both paper and electronic.
Will e-literature, and e-poetry in particular, reach its peak in the world after the end of the pandemic?
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has a great impact. I recorded video as part of an audiovisual poetry reading anthology and it has reached a wide audience. Today, many artists publish their poetry videos, and this is gaining popularity on social networks. But I still think that people prefer paper publications. They like touching the book, the events of the book presentation, the live contact with other artists, the ability to get to know a poet or writer up close when you hear and see it. I think paper poetry will live a long time.
The project Bridge between Bulgaria and Colombia is translated into contemporary poetry from Spanish and Colombian into Bulgarian, and vice versa. You can read translated verses on the project in the Dictum Journal of Literature and the Archivos Oriente.
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