A pointed intellect is in charge: a restless, ironic intelligence… -Maria Topali, newspaper “Kathimerini”, Biblio, 08.04.2019; * * * * * 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”. - Orfeas Apergis, newspaper “Ta Nea”, Poetry, 03.08.2019; * * * * * Boukova manages to transfuse Balkan tradition to contemporary expressive means, to transform inner experience to extroversive manifestation, comfortably balancing at the border between modern and postmodern. Original in their conception and execution images and a poetic force which subdues sentimentalism, these are poems that any contemporary poet would aspire to write. Stavros Zafeiriou (poet), Entefktirio journal

Jana Bukova - Calvino Reading

Blum Izdavastvo
By Vojislava Crnjanski Spasojević

"Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow" by Iana Boukova resembles a map of hidden treasure. Images trapped in hand-polished medallions, found beneath a sand dune or covered by a large slab of forest moss, beneath a stone at the crossroads of two rivers, tucked behind the thatched roof of an old house, behind a damp and semi-decayed village fence, a monastery millstone, or a precious carpet with ancient, barely visible symbols in which the attentive reader will recognize a story.
It is not easy to follow all these secret signs and often seemingly nonsensical codes, but Boukova's phantasmagorical journey takes us through a Borgesian labyrinth of storytelling, paying great homage to the art of storytelling itself.
Borges says that there are only four types of stories. The first, the oldest, tells of a fortified city besieged and defended by brave people (Troy). The second, which follows the first, tells of a return (Odysseus). The third tells of a quest (e.g., for the Rune or the Grail), and the fourth tells of the sacrifice of a god (Christ).
"There are four stories. Over the time that remains to us, we will continue to tell them, modified," Borges writes in "The Four Cycles." For Boukova, these four stories are about metamorphosis, transience, love and murder, and wars and plunder. She tells them through the life episodes of Balkan protagonists scattered across the peninsula during the 19th century: Jovana, Ismail Čelik, Nedelja, the monk and hajduk Prvan Angelov, his wife Telila, the wandering Dutchman Jan van Athen, his guide Outis (a Greek with the fateful name Nobody). These stories are interwoven with numerous meandering tributaries about a bridge builder, a pauper who spent his life staring at the sun, or Dracula, who, luckily, was struck by a ray of sunlight when he drank the blood of a sincere believer. Previously, for centuries, he drank the blood of unhappy peasants, frightened children, and raped women, so he suffered from boredom and unhappiness himself.


Jana Bukova - Calvino Reading

Sunday, 15 October 2023
Casa Libri | Sofia

A few months ago, as part of the summer "Literary Talks" we dared to invite several writers to compose fictional texts, exclusively for a live reading during the event for the first time. This experiment proved meaningful, interesting, and beautiful, thus its continuation will be carried over to the "Literary Talks Autumn 2023: 100th anniversary of Italo Calvino's birth."

Thus, the "Literary Talks Autumn" will conclude with the reading of original texts inspired by "If on a winter's night a traveler," which the writers Iana Boukova, Valentin Kalinov, Poli Mukanova, Martin Kasabov, Ekaterina Grigorova, and Todor P. Todorov have written exclusively for the event.

The upcoming Autumn edition of Literary Talks is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Italian writer Italo Calvino. The Reading Sofia Foundation continues its quest to blend arts and approaches to a diversity of topics. The event will offer different entrances to Calvino's rich biography and writings. The program will begin with the performance "Mr. Palomar," continue with the discussion "The Writer Who Plays with the Genres, the Style, the Beginnings" and end with a reading of original texts inspired by "If On A Winter's Night A Traveler". The autumn edition is organized in partnership with Cinelibri and in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in Sofia, Casa Libri, and Colibri.


Jana Bukova - Putovanje u pravcu senke

Wednesday, 6 July 2023
The European Council | Brussels

The Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the EU's 2023 book recommendation is the novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow by Bulgarian poet and novelist Iana Boukova, the European Council reported on its website on Wednesday. The recommendation was made as part of the fourth instalment of the annual Readers of Europe initiative.

Readers of Europe is a joint campaign of the Council Library and the permanent representations to the EU, where the permanent representations to the EU get invited to recommend a book from their country to read over the summer.

The theme for this year’s campaign is "female authors", the idea being that every permanent representation selects a book by a female author from their country. The genre is up to the permanent representation - it could be a work by an up-and-coming author or a quintessential graphic novel, a collection from a renowned poet or an under-appreciated fantasy.

Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow is formed around eight main characters, each fully developed with backstories, motivations, inner fears, and desires. The characters include a woman capable of falling in love with anyone, a subjugated girl seeking revenge, a lisping murderer who can speak effortlessly in his dreams, a cursed dice-player and a land-bound Odysseus who refuses to return home.


Jana Bukova - Putovanje u pravcu senke

Monday, 16 April 2023
Blum izdavaštvo | Belgrade

On April 16, 2023, the renowned Belgrade literary publishing house Blum presented to the market the Serbian edition of the novel "Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow" by Iana Boukova. The translation was realised by the Serbian translator Jasmina Jovanović.

"Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow" of Jana Bukova is considered a true "Borgesian novel" and one of the most original books on the contemporary Bulgarian literary scene. Storytelling itself is one of the main motives of this novel. The story is set in the 19th century, mainly in the Balkans, where these narrative threads intertwine, forming a complex and above all original narrative mosaic. Fate marked the main characters in a special way, whose names served as the titles of each chapter, and we follow their impressive "biographies" from the cradle to the grave. The unusual lives of Jovana, Ismail Čelik, Nedelja, Prvan Angelov, Telila, Jan van Aten, Kamena and Utis balance on the fine line between fiction and reality, mythology and history, coincidence and purposefulness.

According to critics, Bukova is considered one of the most important contemporary Bulgarian authors. Intellectually, stylistically and conceptually, her work inherits the tradition of great authors, such as Borges, Marquez, Kafka, our own Pavić, Marguerite Jursenar and Italo Calvino.

A book that even Pavić could not write.
– Elka Dimitrova


Iana Boukova Janet 45

Wednesday, 18 May 2022,
Civitella Ranieri, Italy


Join us Wednesday, May 18th at the Castle for a Poetry Reading by Iana Boukova, Mario Chard and Bejan Matur.

Iana Boukova, Writing, Bulgaria
Iana Boukova is Bulgarian poet and writer. She is the author of four poetry books, two short story collections, and the novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow. Her poetry collection Notes of the Phantom Woman received the National Poetry Award in 2019. English translations of her work have appeared in Best European Fiction 2017, Words Without Borders, Two Lines, Absinthe, The Southern Review, and Exchanges, among others. She lives between Sofia and Athens.

Mario Chard, Writing, USA/Argentina
Mario Chard is the author of Land of Fire (Tupelo Press, 2018), winner of the Dorset Prize, a Notable Debut by Poets & Writers Magazine, and the Georgia Author of the Year Award in Poetry. His work has appeared widely in journals and magazines, including The Nation, The New Yorker, Poetry, among others, and his honors include the “Discovery” Poetry Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and an inaugural fellow for the U.S. Ledbury Poetry Critics, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bejan Matur, Writing, Turkey
Bejan Matur was born in the ancient Hittite city of Maraş in 1968. She is a pioneering figure in contemporary poetry. Her poems have been translated into 41 languages and granted numerous awards. She has written articles and essays and has published 11 books. Her musically- accompanied poetry was presented to a wide audience at many stages including Royal Opera House, King Place London, Ubud (Bali) and Princeton University. In 2012, her book How Abraham Abandoned Me became the Recommended Translation for 2012 by the Poetry Book Society founded by T.S. Eliot. Matur is a graduate of Ankara University, Faculty of Law.


Iana Boukova Janet 45

Thursday, 24 February 2022,
L'Ombra delle Parole Rivista Letteraria Internazionale, Roma


Domanda: In un’intervista con Athina Rossoglou hai detto “Penso che al giorno d’oggi non abbiamo altra scelta che imparare a usare il sentiero della poesia per camminare nel mondo”. Quanto è necessario e perché, oggi, scrivere e leggere poesie?

Risposta: Considero la poesia come un metodo per studiare il mondo, come una strategia cognitiva. In un’epoca in cui tutto è fluido e non esistono sistemi filosofici indiscutibili, nessuno può darti una visione del mondo. Devi costruire la tua visione del mondo. La poesia ti offre gli strumenti per farlo. Ti educa a rilevare le connessioni tra i pezzi, ad articolare frasi in mezzo al rumore generale. In altre parole, ti allena a mantenere l’equilibrio su un terreno che è tutt’altro che stabile.


Saturday, 19 February 2022,
L'Ombra delle Parole Rivista Letteraria Internazionale, Roma


Ermeneutica di Giorgio Linguaglossa

Nel suo Éloge du maquillage (1863), Baudelaire accenna alla necessità di utilizzare i mezzi della trasfigurazione per ricercare una bellezza che possa diventare artificio, mero artificio prodotto da un homo artifex, ultima emanazione dell’ homo Super Faber, o Super Sapiens.

La «defigurazione» è la procedura poetica adottata da Iana Boukova. Pensare lo «spazio poetico» oggi significa applicare ai testi la de-figurazione e la dis-locazione in quanto gli spazi interamente de-politicizzati delle società moderne ad economia glocale interamente dipendenti dai pubblicitari e logotecnici, sono caratterizzati dalla de-figurazione e dal disallineamento significazionale.


Iana Boukova Janet 45

Friday, 7 January 2022
Iana Boukova

The first three books in the Ondradec series from FRMK editions, Athens are now out in a special edition with a public cover! Katerina Iliopoulou, "Lily Krag", Giannis Isidorou, "Homo Camcordus", Iana Boukova, "S".
The Ondrantec series includes books poetic but also intermediate lock ways, tests and hybrids, taking into account originality and courage, in the logic of the small-page chap books.

The Iana Boukova's "S" is a literary project that aims/between the "re-identification" of every noun starting with a sigma in the Greek language. It examines and tests the possibilities of poetic thinking in conditions of "coercion" and it leans towards a thoughtful statement of faith in transitional reason. So far, 365 letters are counted, i.e. from one S for every day of the year. Always found in progress.


Greek News Agenda - Interview by Athina Rossoglou

Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Greek News Agenda
Interview by Athina Rossoglou


Your last poetry collection Notes of the Phantom Woman received the Ivan Nikolov National Award for the most outstanding book of Bulgarian poetry in 2019, while a Greek-language version of it was also published in 2018 in Athens under the title Drapetomania (Mikri Arktos). Tell us a few things about this writing venture of yours.

It was an unprecedented experience for me. I had written in Greek in the past – essays, reviews, some scattered poems. I had also started an entire poetic project based exclusively on the use of the Greek language and the ‘twisted’, free in associations, foreign look on it. It is the ‘S’, which is to be published later this year, an effort-wager to define in a metaphorical and inventive way all the Greek nouns that start with this letter.
Yet, what happened with the texts of Drapetomania is that they were written simultaneously in two languages, Greek and Bulgarian. That is, there are two original texts and both books were published in the same year, 2018, both in Greece and in Bulgaria. It was a strange moment of balance, where the stimuli were reaching me through two languages and there was a strong desire on my part to address at the same time two –consolidated and precious to me – audiences in both countries. I am not sure if a similar balance will ever be achieved again in the future, that is, if what happened is a new beginning or an exception. In any case, it was a very liberating way of working. It was as if the two languages cooperated, complementing each other. At some points, where I had difficulty, the solution often came according to the potential of one language and the other followed. As if each language broadened the horizon of the other.

The Southern Review

1 July 2021
The Southern Review, Volume 57, Number 3, Summer 2021

The life of an Ottoman gambler in a cradle-to-grave tale
from Bulgarian novelist Iana Boukova.
Translated from Bulgarian by Ekaterina Petrova

Just in time for the August heat, The Southern Review’s summer issue is out now! Journey to Cuba with Adam Stumacher as he describes the return of a Cuban-Jewish exile, who, with his pregnant girlfriend in tow, must reckon with his impulse to flee both fatherhood and his past. See the world through the eyes of two Mapuche girls as they describe their experiences in 1990s Chile in a new story by Daniela Catrileo, or live the life of an Ottoman gambler in a cradle-to-grave tale from Bulgarian novelist Iana Boukova. Kwame Dawes contributes two poems about community and loss, while returning contributor Yuxi Lin provides two poems of her own about girlhood and survival. Along with more poetry by Anya Silver, John Kinsella, J. Bruce Fuller, and Morgan Hamill, this issue features the paintings of Greta Van Campen, whose paintings of her local Maine coast strive to find a balance between representation and abstraction, playing with color and composition while maintaining a keen observation of the natural world.

Iana Boukova is an award-winning Bulgarian poet and writer whose works include the novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow. English translations of her work have appeared in Best European Fiction 2017, Words without Borders, and Two Lines.

Ekaterina Petrova has an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was awarded the Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her translation-in-progress of Iana Boukova’s novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow won a 2021 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant.


Spring 2021
Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation

Translator's Note by Ekaterina Petrova

Iana Boukova’s novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow is composed of numerous distinct but connected plotlines that break away, digress, wander off and meander, come back together, run in parallel or intertwine, reoccur, then separate again. On the one hand, the possibility to break the narrative into standalone pieces provides a convenient way to share parts of the novel with readers before it’s published as a book. Even an isolated excerpt is enough to offer a glimpse into some of the novel’s overall thematic, aesthetic, and stylistic features: the powerful rhythm, cadence, and flow of its prose, which are more characteristic of poetry than of fiction; the lush, yet highly controlled literary expression that extends beyond the quotidian and confronts the very conventions of language; its humor and compassion, even as it examines the vulnerability of human existence; its intertextual kinship with global authors, such as Marguerite Yourcenar and Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez. These, not incidentally, are some of the features that make the text so challenging but at the same time so exciting to translate.

On the other hand, however, reading isolated excerpts as standalone pieces obscures the rhizome structure and complexity of the novel, which are also among its essential features. In Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow, rather than holding readers by the hand, Boukova constantly invites them to make their own way within the network of carefully supplied cues and to actively participate in disassembling and then recreating the narrative. Formally, each of the novel’s eight chapters tells the complete, cradle-to-grave “biography” (though almost never chronologically) of the character that the chapter is named after. But it is up to the reader to recognize patterns, make connections, arrange sequences, and assemble different fragments, both within each chapter and across the novel.

Boukova Meridian journal 2021

Published May 2021
91st Meridian journal, University of Iowa, in Iowa City
Translator’s Notes by Ekaterina Petrova

The following excerpt from Iana Boukova’s novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow comes from the novel’s first chapter, which is titled “Iovana, or The Birth of the Hero.” I chose this excerpt because it works well as a standalone piece (conveniently bookended by the two mentions of Iovana), but also because it demonstrates quite a few of the mechanisms that are at work across this complex, intricate, and compelling novel at large.1 They include the nestling of stories within stories, the meandering and branching out of the narrative, and the cyclical repetition of motifs, images, or events that are similar but not identical. Moreover, even this relatively short excerpt contains examples of some of the overarching challenges presented by the book as a whole and, by extension, offers a glimpse into the overall strategies I’ve adopted while translating the novel.

The first challenge concerns rendering the proper names, which Iana Boukova often employs beyond their immediate face value, so they also perform deeper semantic and connotative work. The name Iovana, for example, would normally be transcribed as Yovana, as this corresponds to how it’s pronounced. It felt important, however, to retain the possibility for the Anglophone reader to make a connection between the fictional character of Iovana, who gives birth to the novel’s protagonist, and the real-life author, whose first name is just one syllable off and who “gives birth” to the narrative.

PEN America


Now in their 18th year, the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants promote the publication and reception of translated world literature into English. Established by a gift from Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations appearing in English, the fund has supported almost 200 projects.

For the 2021 cycle, the judges reviewed 348 eligible applications from a wide array of languages of origin, genres, and time periods. Selected from this vast field of applicants are 10 projects, including Serbian, French, Nepali, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Hindi, and more, and each translator will receive a grant of $3,575 to support the translation’s completion.

Judges: Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Peter Constantine, Karen Emmerich, Nicholas Glastonbury, Elisabeth Jaquette, Tess Lewis, Aditi Machado, Sawako Nakayasu, Wanda Phipps, Jeremy Tiang, Lara Vergnaud, and Jeffrey Zuckerman

From the judges’ citation:
“Iana Boukova’s novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow is one of the most original and compelling books to emerge out of Bulgaria’s contemporary literary scene: the plot, unfolding during the 19th century in and around the Balkans, offers complex insights and historical perspectives on cultures that are little known beyond their borders, and the main characters, whose names serve as titles of the novel’s eight chapters, each have their own intriguing cradle-to-grave biographies. In her masterful translation, Ekaterina Petrova has captured the many nuances, registers, and literary devices of Iana Boukova’s prose.”


Boukova Asymptote journal 2020

Published 15 October 2020
Asymptote journal
Ekaterina Petrova on Iana Boukova

“An author who squeezes language to the last drop, enters arithmetic scuffles with it, drives language into a corner, makes a bet with language and wins every time.” This is how the Bulgarian writer Iana Boukova describes Georges Perec in her essay “Not Small. Minor,” but it also happens to be a fitting description of how she engages with language herself: by challenging it, testing its limits, and reinventing its rules and functions.

I first stumbled across the essay as a graduate student in literary translation at the University of Iowa, when I was asked to give an overview of Bulgarian literature in a seminar on comparative poetics. The text impressed me, not just because of how different it was from the status quo-preserving theoretical papers I’d already come across, but also because I found its claims about the marginal status of translated Bulgarian literature in the context of “world” literature to be compelling. The fact that Boukova never referred to her own work in the essay made me curious about how her writing might fit into the concept of minor literature, which—rather than the literature of “small” languages (a category to which Bulgarian is usually considered to belong)—she claims is “the one written always by a minority and in every language.” This led me to her novel Пътуване по посока на сянката (Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow), which I’d been hearing about for years—often as an unusual, innovative book that was difficult, if not utterly impossible, to translate. Tentatively, I decided to translate several excerpts from the novel and share them with my peers and mentors. Besides the thrill I felt while working on them, I was also impressed by how even these short excerpts implicated readers and encouraged them to produce their own readings. Motivated by my own experience and an enthusiastic reception, I eventually decided to take on the whole novel. Over the course of the book’s translation, and as I’ve learned more about Boukova’s work and thinking, I’ve come to discover that the essay “Not Small. Minor” could be read as a sort of manifesto for the kind of literature that Boukova herself writes. Minor literature, she says,

Boukova Apofenie

Published July 28, 2020
Apofenie Magazine

Tell me please: what if someone, who had never read anything written by you, asked you about your writing style and which author you might be stylistically similar to? How would you answer?
I believe that the only way to present myself is in the texts I write. I’d rather advise anyone who is interested in my work to open any of my books at random or search online and read even one small fragment. This is the way to learn significantly more about my writing than any detailed introduction. However, if I still have to introduce myself in a certain way, I would say that I am an author who works more with ideas than with descriptions.
Can your novel "Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow" be attributed to the genre of magical realism?
But what does ‘magical realism’ mean in general? Consider for example a composer who perceives colors when he hears certain musical chords and the combinations of these colors modify his compositional process. A composer so fascinated with birds, that he starts notating bird songs from all over the world and incorporating birdsong transcriptions into his music. Everyone would probably assume that this is a fictional character. However, the truth is that it is the French composer Olivier Messiaen and all said above is a fact indeed. Reality is much richer and more unexpected than we can imagine. In the novel, I would rather deal with unexpected aspects of reality than with the creation of fantastic situations. In fact, some of my characters have strange and hyperbolic properties and talents, and here and there in the text I develop (mainly in a playing and parodying manner) elements that resemble the style of magical realism. But nothing violates the laws of physics in the book – only the law of expectation. It even occurred to me several times that the things and situations I thought I had created in my fantasy turned out to exist for real. For example, I described two minor characters that....

Iana Boukova Sariev Isolation

Published July 25, 2020

On March 27, 2020, in a situation of self-isolation, provoked by the pandemic COVID-19 Sariev Gallery, Plovdiv launched an evolving online project #sarievselfisolation. #sarievselfisolation is a laboratory in which the gallery curated and presented works of art, texts, videos, sounds and images that expressed the thoughts of artists about this moment in the life of our world and visions of its tomorrow. #sarievselfisolation presented new works created or developed in March and April 2020 at the invitation of Vesselina Sarieva and Katrin Sarieva. Each artist was in focus for 3-4 days.

#sarievselfisolation with its curation, experimental nature, visual and textual dynamics in the presentation of authors and their projects, its selection of artists and its intensity, has become a real artistic environment that continued to make sense in times of self-isolation and was monitored by the international and local art community.

The documentary by Kalin Serapionov presents interviews with the initiators of #sarievselfisolation Vesselina and Katrin Sarievi and the artists included in #sarievselfisolation: Pravdoliub Ivanov, Stela Vasileva, Kosta Tonev, Mitch Brezounek, Rudi Ninov, Maria Nalbantova, Dimitar Solakov, Zara Alexandrova, Zoran Georgiev, Michail Michailov, Kalin Serapionov, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Iana Boukova, Stefan Nikolaev, Voin de Voin, Vitto Valentinov.

2020 76:27 min Language: Bulgarian with English subtitles Camera: Kalin Serapionov, Dimirar Solakov Editing: Kalin Serapionov Music: New Candys / Bleeding Magenta, 2017 Translation: Kaloyan Nachev The film is produced and realized by Sariev, Plovdiv sariev-gallery.com With the support of Plovdiv Municipality

#sarievselfisolation Pandemic Diaries

Boukova Ariel Art

Published July 08, 2020
Iana Boukova's poetry on Ariel Literature OptoArt Multilingual Magazine

The main topic of this issue is Coronae. Poets and artists were welcomed to submit work on such different things as crowns, coroners and, of course, also the corona virus. Thus, this issue provides a real cornucopia of corona-art and poetry by Stefan Hoelscher (Germany), Jiaoyang Li (China), Michael Loesel (Germany), Phillip Meinert (Germany), Friederike Pank (Germany), Ruben Antonio Sanchez (Usa, Hongkong), Triin Soomets (Estonia) and Anita Tschirwitz (Germany).

Nevertheless, the issue also offers a great variety of topic-free poetry by Iana Boukova (Bulgaria), Ingo Cesaro (Germany), Abigail Chabotnoy Kerstetter (Usa), Amade Esperer (Germany), Norman Franke (New Zealand), Jelena Glazova (Latvia), Axel G?rlach (Germany), Yitzhak Laor (Israel), Iwona Lompart (Poland / Germany), short stories and pictures, whose focus is otherwise, albeit by no means less ravishing.

Moreover, the reader will be able to enjoy several essays, among which two center around famous Rilke and the Scotch poet Don Paterson, who most certainly will become famous, not least for his idiosyncratic Rilke versions. Also, as usual, several reviews on recently published bilingual poetry books are presented.

It is hoped that the reader will be aroused, inspired and infected by what he finds.

Bulgarian Text: Iana BOUKOVA; English Translation: John O'KANE / Voice: Iana BOUKOVA

Boukova Trafika Europe Radio

Published Junе 28, 2020 9:00 PM
Trafika Europe Radio - Women in Translation

Bulgarian author Iana Bukova and translator Ekaterina Petrova speak with host Tynan Kogane, editor at New Directions, about the amazing novel, Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow. This public talk was organized by Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, recorded at the Bulgarian Consulate General in New York on Monday, 18 November 2019, 19:00-21:00.

Trafika Europe is your online literary site for great new writing from across Europe in fresh English translation, with our online quarterly digest. . . and preparing to launch Trafika Europe Radio – Europe’s first “literary” radio station – free online. We want to maintain a literate, creative space where writers, publishers, translators and readers can meet, share their work and interact, free of borders in the shared medium of English language.


Τετάρτη, 24 Ιουνίου 2020

Πέτρος Γκολίτσης
Επιμέλεια: Μισέλ Φάις

Ενώ σύμφωνα με την ποιήτρια η drapetomania είναι «ψυχική νόσος στην οποία η ιατρική των λευκών απέδιδε την τάση των μαύρων σκλάβων να δραπετεύουν από τις φυτείες», η ίδια −στο τριμερές βιβλίο της− αποπειράται να δραπετεύσει από τους αστικούς μύθους και τα προ-διαγεγραμμένα μιας γυναίκας-φάντασμα, από το φιλοσοφικό «Tractatus» (συνεκδοχικά από τα όρια της γλώσσας που είναι τα όρια του κόσμου) και τελικά από την ίδια την ιστορία και την ύπαρξη.
Πρόκειται για μια στοχαστική, διανοητική και υπο-συναισθηματική ποίηση, τόσο ως διάθεση όσο και ως στόχευση, που με μονάδα δόμησης τον σύντομο αφορισμό, τον ορισμό ή το ρητό, και με τη λέξη ως όγκο στο λευκό, υπενθυμίζει και αξιώνει μια αχρονικότητα, η οποία και προέρχεται από τη γενιά του ’30 και κυρίως από τον Ελύτη∙ ο οποίος και κληροδοτεί στην τρέχουσα ποιητική «γενιά» τον χώρο ως μια απέραντη και άνευ όρων ελευθερία.
Εκεί, αισθητικά κατασταλαγμένη η ποιήτρια, με το διακριτό καλλιτεχνικό ύφος της, ως ήρεμη δύναμη, και με ένα εύρος που ξαφνιάζει, καθιστά την ποίησή μας πιο τρισδιάστατη. Ειρωνευόμενη τους θιασώτες της επίπεδης Γης, π.χ. με τους στίχους: «να κρεμάει τα πόδια του έξω από την ατμόσφαιρα / και να πίνει τα κοκτέιλ του φάτσα στους γαλαξίες» («Πάρτι»), μας ανοίγει σε έναν κόσμο δικό της, όπου πλάι στα ποτήρια που σκάζουν στο πάτωμα ως «μεγάλα ρόδια» συμμετέχουμε σε μια διαδρομή που ως κύριο σκοπό φαίνεται να έχει την αποσυναρμολόγηση∙ ώστε να καταστεί ορατός και απτός ο «μηχανισμός» και συνεκδοχικά να προκύψει η δυνατότητα μιας δραπέτευσης.


Saturday, 9 - 11 May 2020
Sariev Gallery

There are topics where it is a symptom the very fact that they are called "current". Victorians are said to have talked about death all the time, but never about sex. Like Victorians with a reverse sign, we constantly talk about sex, never about death.
"Fears leading to insanity" is a poetic project based on "found text” and exploring the inability of the modern person to approach the subject of their mortality. From the shamanic jargon of medicine through the mourning kitsch to the inexhaustible pataphysics of the popular media, language proves to be both powerless and aggressive, macabrely comical in every attempt to utter the fact of dying. Madness takes the place of metaphysics.
"I don't need to say anything. I'm just showing" says Benjamin.
The fragments used have been collected by the Web in recent years from a variety of sources: stories in the news, forensic reports, posts in groups and discussion forums, advertisements of funeral homes, dictionary entries, Google search results etc. The text has not been changed, only in some places the lines are cut to resemble verse form. Original spelling is preserved.



Fears leading to insanity - Texts - availabe in Bulgarian only...


Friday, 10 April 2020
Iana Boukova's work on Words Without Borders international magazine

The arrival of the plague sends a sleepy village into a frenzy in this excerpt from Iana Boukova's novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow.

And so Manol, the runt, was born, with clenched fists and broad shoulders. He came out with his eyes open but his shoulders became stuck and he remained this way, hanging between the world and the womb, making no sound, waiting for someone else to make a decision. And the old woman who was helping deliver him remembered the curse and spit into the embers to stop her hands from trembling. Whether as a result of her own efforts or with some other kind of assistance, she was finally able to pull him out, and while she wiped him down and angrily slapped his back to get him to cry, she said: “This one here was born twice.” And she tied his umbilical cord while she pressed her toothless gums into her lower lip and mulled over her words.


Friday, 27 March 2020


Continuiamo a pubblicare il meglio della letteratura da tutto il mondo. Oggi per voi un racconto di Iana Boukova, per il quale ringraziamo, ancora una volta, Emilia Mirazchiyska, che l'ha tradotto dal bulgaro.
La nostra epoca, a mio avviso, ha tanti difetti, ma anche alcuni pregi. Tra questi, la possibilità di essere una summa di tutte le precedenti. Letterariamente parlando, il postmodernismo al quale siamo abituati non è soltanto un pastiche di tutto ciò che c'è stato prima, che all'improvviso sviluppa un'autocoscienza (fin troppo) loquace, ma anche e soprattutto un pastiche che nella propria artificiosità mostra l'artificiosità di tutto ciò che c'è stato, e che ci sarà sempre. Il Senso, una volta condiviso e quindi sotteso alla narrazione, ora è messo in discussione, dal momento che, consapevole della propria volatilità storica, necessita di riaffermarsi ogni volta. E tuttavia, non potendo cancellare il passato, ogni segno segue i precedenti, e talvolta crea con gli stessi un discorso metastorico: leggere un racconto, in sintesi, ai giorni nostri, non è un'esperienza unica, ma è mediata dalle aspettative storicamente stratificate che in noi si affacciano leggendolo, e con il quale il racconto deve scontrarsi. Riuscirà a sfidare le convenzioni? O rimarrà confinato nel cliché? O prenderà coscienza di sé e ci mostrerà quanto acuto ? l'autore nell'essere consapevole dei propri antenati letterari e delle loro tecniche? Ecco che in questo paradosso senza scampo, anche una scena apparentemente semplice non smette di trasfigurarsi a ogni riga, e quando pensiamo che la trasfigurazione giunga a una forma determinata, questa ci sorprende ancora.
Che altro dire? Buona lettura.


Luxembourg, Friday, 13 March 2020, 7.00 p.m.


Foyer Européen - 10, rue Heine – Luxembourg, Salle Adenauer au 1er étage.

During Iana Boukova's presentation in Luxembourg, she will talk about four of her books: the award winning poetry book Notes of the Phantom Woman, and the poetry book Diocletian’s Palaces, the short stories collection A As Anything and her big renowned novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow. A reception will follow after the presentation.
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, poet, writer, translator in conversation with Ekaterina Petrova. Capital - #4, 31.01.2020

Iana Boukova, poet, writer, translator in conversation with Ekaterina Petrova. Capital - #4, 31.01.2020

I believe that laughter is a form of knowledge. It is awareness of our human boundaries, of the innate and unsolvable impasse defined by our nature and our biological destiny. It is as well some kind of evolutionary mechanism for survival of the two mind-breaking "short circuits" of logic: the endlessness and the death. As children, we instinctively learn to laugh at the absurd, to experience a strangely joyful pleasure in realizing it: there is nothing more ridiculous about a child from the absurdity, where it expects meaning, from the chaos, where it awaits order.
We are preparing for what we will encounter throughout our lives. We create protection. Laughter exists to keep us from going crazy. It is a healing solution where there is no solution. This is the way to continue to live, resigned to the impasse. That's why laughing in art is such a serious thing. Any meaningful art sooner or later draws on these two themes: infinity and death. Any meaningful art sooner or later comes to laughter.



The National Poetry Award "Ivan Nikolov" 2019 was awarded to Iana Boukova for her poetry book "Notes of the Phantom Woman", published by the Janet 45 Printing and Publishing Company.
The winner received a statuette made by the artist Hristo Gochev.
The award ceremony for the prestigious National Poetry Award took place on December 11 (Wednesday) 2019 at 6:00 pm at the "Peroto" Literary Club in partnership with the National Book Centre of the National Palace of Culture
The competition featured 37 books from 22 publishers, published between October 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019. Jury composed of: Prof. Ph.D. Svetlozar Igov (Chairman) - scholar, literary critic, poet and writer; Assoc. Prof. Yordan Eftimov - poet, teacher and literary critic and Julian Zhiliev - literary critic and teacher, nominate the following poetry books (in alphabetical order of authors):


Яна Букова е носителя на Национална награда за поезия


Iana Boukova won the National Poetry Award "Ivan Nikolov" during the Sofia International Book Fair. She was awarded for her poetry book "Notes of the Phantom Woman".
The short list consisted of 10 books by one of the most significant contemporary Bulgarian poets. The National Poetry Award “Ivan Nikolov” was founded in 1994 by the publishing house “Janet 45” and is given annually for 25th time. Through it the publishing house testifies its support for Bulgarian poetry and literature. The first prize winner was the poet Christo Fotev, followed over the years by some of the most famous Bulgarian poets as Konstantin Pavlov, Vera Mutafchieva, Ivan Tzanev, Ekaterina Yosifova, Ivan Teofilov, Nikolay Kanchev, Ani Ilkov, Georgi Gospodinov, Silvia Choleva, Marin Bodakov.

Bulgarian National Radio
Ploshtad Slaveikov
Kulturni Novini


By Katerina Iliopoulou

In what language can we make poetry today? How do we engender a poetic discourse that is alive, with edge and attuned to the present, the inner existential present as well as the historic and social one? How does that discourse not merely attune itself, but initiate a dialogue? Drapetomania, Iana Boukova’s new book, answers these questions in its own artistic way, having assimilated in a thoroughly idiosyncratic manner both poignant lyricism and intensive image-making, which comprise her poetic ancestry, as well as the contemporary trend towards documentation poetry. The outcome is a one-of-a-kind book, a poetry of thinking which produces in the form of well-crafted poems the language it needs in order to reflect.
The nexus of linguistic tropes which succeed one another in the book create its unique idiom. The pared down exposition of events, carefully selected so that they constitute linguistic and mental events on their own right, often along the dimension of a poetic revelation, is interwoven with a philosophical, poetic thought assuming the guise of a riddle, or a sequence of dense aphorisms. Although it avails itself of an array of terms and disparate stories from a variety of sources, there is no ‘found text’ as such in the book, insofar as the poet successfully uses all the different ‘languages’ she employs, to mould her own. We are simultaneously the spider web and the spider, Boukova’s poetic work seems to indicate, with its continuous engendering of connections. It transforms the selfevident, adds itself to the mystery without solving it, aware that it is a part of it, and expounds its unrelenting logic, stretching it to the point of absurdity. Every such move of her poetic baton does not lead to redemption or to a solution, but, rather, to emptiness. The sky – Kepler discovered, / is no dome; it is a siege /His onion of perfect Platonic solids/ collapsed./ It came to be proven mathematically / that every orbit has two centres / and one of them is emptiness. Perhaps emptiness constitutes the book’s pivotal issue, its geometry, as it focuses on the void, whether of logic or morality, a poetry sniffing out the gaps in logic, thought, history, yet not defeated by this. On the contrary, it takes up residence there, as the space of an endless quest for meaning, against the discontent of civilization and the hopelessness of comprehending reality
PDF (English)...

Elizabeth Kostova Foundation presents Iana Boukova's Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow

New York, Monday, 18 November 2019, 19:00-21:00
Bulgarian Consulate General, 121 E 62nd St, NY, NY 10065

The event will feature a reading and conversation between the Bulgarian author Iana Boukova and her translator in English Ekaterina Petrova, led by the New Direction's editor Tynan Kogane.


Iana Boukova
is a Bulgarian poet, writer, translator, and essayist. Born in Sofia in 1968, she has a degree in Classics from Sofia University. She is the author of the poetry books Diocletian’s Palaces (1995), Boat in the Eye (2000), and Notes of the Phantom Woman (2018), the short story collections A as in Аnything (2006) and Tales With No Return (2016), and the novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow (2014). Her poems and short stories have been translated into Greek, Spanish, French, German, and Arabic, among others. English translations of her texts have appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Best European Fiction 2017, Two Lines, Drunken Boat, Zoland Poetry, Take Five, and Absinthe.


Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center
of the American Literary Translators Association 7-8 November 2019

8 November 2019, 10:45am – 12:00 pm, Highland G. Art Omi Translation Lab 2019
Join the writers and translators from Translation Lab 2019 as they share and discuss their work. Every fall, Art Omi: Writers, a residency program in New York’s Hudson Valley, hosts four Englishlanguage translators along with the writers whose work is being translated into English. Translators working on various types of texts—from fiction and nonfiction to theater and poetry—enjoy a short, intensive residency that provides them with an integral stage of refinement and the chance to dialogue with writers about text-specific questions. Translation Lab also serves as an essential community-building environment for English-language translators who are working to increase the amount of international literature available to English-language readers.
Moderator: DW Gibson
Participants: Ekaterina Petrova and Iana Boukova, Mara Faye Lethem and Marta Orriols, Sung Ryu and Choi Eunyoung, Vala Thorodds and Kristin Omarsdottir, more...

European Literature Network

The European Literature Network presented on his site on Friday 18-th October 2019 extracts From TRAVELING IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SHADOW by Iana Boukova, translated by Ekaterina Petrova. Ekaterina Petrova, is this year’s winner of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation’s competition for participation in the International Writers’ Residence in Norwich for her work on the translation of Boukova's “Travelling in the Direction of the Shadow”.
Chapter 1 Yovana or The Birth of the Hero (excerpt):
All that Yovana had left of him was a bite on her neck and an empty shirt. “Like a snake,” she said, after the first few months had passed. And though she said it to herself, the ‘s’ snapped like a whip and turned the scar violet. The shirt held an entire body inside itself, retained its outline through its scent, and at night slept next to her in the bed. But the shirt eventually gave up too, defeated by time, and nothing remained in it any longer. What could she do with a dead shirt but wash it and put it away in the trunk where it belonged, to never again take it out nor throw it out. The scar turned bloody every time she picked at it and tried to reproduce...


The Bulgarian Embassy in London hosted a literary evening with the participation of the renowned contemporary translator of Bulgarian literature Angela Rodel and Ekaterina Petrova, a young Bulgarian translator and this year’s winner of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation’s competition for participation in the International Writers’ Residence in Norwich. The evening began with a discussion of the importance and role of the translator, the challenges of translating Bulgarian literature into English, and the latest projects that both translators have worked on. These are Prof. Valery Stefanov’s book “Love Stories from the Babylonian Library” and “Travelling in the Direction of the Shadow” by Iana Boukova. The audience had the opportunity to hear excerpts from both works read in Bulgarian and English by their translators.

poetry now

A discussion on Poetry Now: A collective book of essays where seven poets - Vasilis Amanatidis, Orfeas Apergis, Phoive Giannise, Katerina Eliopoulou, Panagiotis Ioannidis, Iana Boukova and Theodoros Chiotis answer nine questions on contemporary poetics. The book deals with the relationship of poetry to public space, artistic form and aesthetic criteria. It also addresses the relationship with the ancestors, the construction of the self, poetry and knowledge, oratory, the body, historical and social circumstances, contemporary philosophy and theory, and the relationship of poetry with other forms of art.


by Iana Boukova. Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel

Published in Volume 24, Issue 1: World Hellenisms, Fall 2018 of Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation owned and operated by the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan.

How can I explain that I don’t even need to dream? It’s enough just to look at the wall in my room. Or simply to look around. As a rule, when I try to retell my nightmares, I use the system for retelling nightmares. I sit on one of the guests’ laps and start crying silently. The guests are very impressed by silent crying. Far more so than by the loudest scream. “Oh,” they say, their lips rounding like zeroes. The first thing I see on their faces is annoyance. After surprise. Annoyance at their surprise.
The women most often cover my face in kisses. Their lips become damp from my tears, their cheeks also grow wet, their makeup smears and afterwards I have to wash it off my face. That bit with the kisses is convenient...

"The Stone Quarter"

European Literature Network

by Iana Boukova in Two Lines, Issue 25.
Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
We’re very proud that our newest issue of Two Lines, Issue 25, features a story from the under-appreciated nation of Bulgaria: “A Is for Anything,” an elliptical, obsessive story by the Bulgarian writer Iana Boukova, translated by Angela Rodel.
So to help inspire even more future translations from this rich literary tradition, here are 5 can’t-miss selections of poetry and fiction. It’s your intro the Bulgarian scene!
And make sure to purchase Two Lines 25 (or subscribe) to read Iana Boukova’s story—you’ll get that taste of Bulgarian lit, plus almost a dozen more languages in our new issue.

We are simultaneously the spider web and the spider, Boukova’s poetic work seems to indicate, with its continuous engendering of connections. It transforms the self-evident, adds itself to the mystery without solving it, aware that it is a part of it, and expounds its unrelenting logic, stretching it to the point of absurdity. -Katerina Iliopoulou, “FRMK” magazine * * * * * The Bulgarian poet Iana Boukova with her book “The minimal garden”, in a very good translation into greek by Dimitris Allos, has easily gained herself a place in contemporary greek poetry, transplanting memory in all things, honoring with affection what is hurt or hunted, being able to look beyond the future into man’s adventure……….. Dino Siotis, (poet), (de)kata journal

© 2019 - 2023, Iana Boukova
Contact e-mail: bukova.iana(at)gmail.com