Iana Boukova (born 1968) is a Bulgarian poet, novelist, essayist and translator. Boukova won the National Poetry Award "Ivan Nikolov" in 2019 for her poetry book "Notes of the Phantom Woman" and the 2012 Hristo G. Danov National prize for her eminent literary translations of the Pindar's Pythian Odes.
In Bulgarian, she has published three books of poetry: Diocletian’s Palaces (1995) Boat in the Eye (2000), Notes of the Phantom Woman (2018), the short stories collections: A As Anything (2006), 4 Tales With no Return (2016) and the Borgesian novel: Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow (2009, rev. 2014), as well as translations of more than fifteen books of modern Greek and ancient poetry — among them: Sappho, Pindar, the poetry of Catullus, Maximus the Confessor, Costas Montis.
Iana Boukova is a member of the editorial board of Athens “FRMK” biannual journal on poetry, theory, and the visual arts. Her poems and short stories have been translated in more than ten languages. In English, her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals in the USA and the UK: e.g. Absinthe. World Literature in Translation: Hellenisms (Michigan Publishing Services), Austerity Measures (Penguin UK), Best European Fiction 2017 (Dalkey Archive Press), Two Lines 25 - Fall 2016 (Two Lines Press, San Francisco), Drunken Boat, Zoland Poetry, Take Five, etc.
You can read Iana Boukova's "The stone Quarter" here...
Her first poetry book in Greek, The minimal garden (O elahistos kipos; Ikaros, 2006) contained only three poems written in Greek; the majority had been translated from the Bulgarian by Dimitris Allos; in contrast, in her second, Drapetomania (Mikri Arktos, 2018), all poems were directly composed in Greek. This is not the only distance she has travelled over these twelve years. The poems of the first book already showed a poet adept at conjuring and using bold images to tackle a wide variety of subjects, treading a very personal line between modernist versions of both expressionism and surrealism. However, Boukova's style in the second book has matured in every sense: it has become drier, and therefore more pungent; it dares to philosophise with humour; it systematically plunders scientific and other 'scholarly' texts in order to construct its own at once highly serious and deeply sarcastic version of the world — for example, by taking pigeons as the ostensible subject of a prismatic “Tractatus”, the book's middle section.
Iana Boukova is a Borgesian type of author. She favors play, references, riddles unexpected twists, ironies, and the dramaturgy of verse. She possesses deep knowledge not just in the sphere of the humanities, in which she specialized, but she is also enticed by science, she knows a lot, and all of this is reflected in the Notes of the Phantom Woman. In the book, the intonations change harshly, the verse is cut, the rhythm - too, the tone is sharp, in some places the aphorism turns the verse into a maxim, but does she want to "cheat" us, to "check" us or to "check" ourselves, we wonder as long as we read, whether this irony not become imperceptibly sarcasm..... The reader of the book often asks himself questions, he has to question all that, to doubt, to be careful in the text, to harness his knowledgå and at the same time to fly the kite of the imagination in order to make metaphors work, in order to drive the intervals of the poem and to become an associative bridge between one verse and the next one, something like that is the mechanics of the reading here. Yana Bukova does not want to be easy, sensitive, sublime - back to the expanding ideas for writing poetry, of successful poetry, if there is such a thing at all... She wants to worry, to shake the status quo, to scare us, to startle us, she is direct at the risk of even sounding rude.
Silvia Choleva, K Weekly
The poetry of Iana Boukova explores a personal mythology in non-sequencial and asymmetrical narratives, juxtapositions of image and histories that are also mythological (Balkan and Greek) which scramble time and place where dreamscapes enter into her speakers’ waking moments. The consciousness of a present is often intruded on by overriding questions of existential import that splinter the speaking subject into an amalgam of voices. “But I still insist/on speaking to you in the singular/” announces the speaker in “Fractcal” which immediately shifts into addressing a “you” of multiple “existences” and moments full of “crowds”. These spaces between a postmodern dismantling of integral subject-ness and a surreality of sensations are typical of Boukova’s work as in “The Second Door” where a speaker “…holds his head as if it were a newborn/ There’s a fridge next to him/It’s having a fit/”. In Boukova’s own words, “the paradox in the cause-and-effect relationship of facts, choices, and meanings” are central to her poetry, a poetry that often subverts the linearity of choronlogical expectation, particularly in relation to time’s consequentiality. The effect is one of metaphysical rawness, a viscerality of the concrete not often, or very rarely, associated with the metaphysical.
A pointed intellect is in charge: a restless, ironic intelligence is given utterance in a style that’s meant to smart, to cause abrasions, unburdened by the delusion of prophetic speech and the concomitant assurance of high discourse.
Fertile migration to Greek letters, by Maria Topali, poet, critic, newspaper “Kathimerini”, Biblio, 08.04.2019
This book brings in contact the essay form (the philosophic, metaphysical “tendency”) and poetry (poetic excess), like two ever-moving, rotating grindstones that hone one another. Boukova formulates conclusions which appear scientific yet bear a poetic charge, one usually expressed in terms of terror at the metaphysical void. The book’s second, central section is titled “Tractatus”. It is a treatise on the revulsion an observer feels towards city pigeons. Like Wittgenstein meeting Kafka, you might say. This Tractatus could well be taught at schools as an example of the difference between poetry and “poeticality”."
The poem as a field of action, by Orfeas Apergis, poet, critic, newspaper “Ta Nea”, Poetry, 03.08.2019
© 2019, Iana Boukova
Contact e-mail: bukova.iana(at)gmail.com