A young poetess is the first Bulgarian to become a member of the English Poetry Society
This Is It
What we can't describe -
It is like a lazy rain on the tiled roof,
like a lively flame in the rising night,
like a lyric wind, reciting poetry,
like a brisk rainbow, running from this
end of the world to the other one.
So simple and so complicated.
Like the twinkle of the stars in the sky,
like the race of the lightning in the storm,
like a known flower on the top of the mountain and
like an unknown handful of sand in the setting beach.
So clear and so unclear.
Like the lady-bird in your front pocket,
like the singing waves in the transparent sea,
like the echo of your memory in the dark forest and
like mythical stories, you were told by the trees.
So fantastic and so real.
Like the secret wink from the sun,
like your conversations with the moon,
like your dream of a cup of stars from the Milky Way,
like the promise that you gave the stars.
This is it.
A silhouette shimmering against the setting sun; a flock of birds mid-flight; beaches; clouds; a stream flowing over mossy rocks. Ekaterina Karabasheva's bedroom walls are plastered with a collection of posters, magazine cuttings and her own photographs - a visual expression of her poetry, which pays testament to her love of nature and the magic of the natural world.
Only 17, Ekaterina wrote her first poem 10 years ago, when she was just seven. "It was just a funny poem with birds and rabbits and things like that. But then, four or five years ago, I started writing seriously," says Ketty.
Others took notice. Her poems and short stories have won numerous literary awards at home and abroad, not least the commendation from The English Poetry Society in "The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award", which she received at the Globe Theatre in London last October.
Before that, at 15, she had already published her first book of short stories. At the Edge of the Earth, published at the end of 2004, treads the delicate line between childhood and the adult world that is adolescence, capturing the essence of this bittersweet time of selfdiscovery. "I didn't write it with the idea that I was writing a book. I was just writing stories about people I had met or had happened to meet. Then suddenly the idea of the book came up. It wasn't my idea, it was my grandparents'. But then I thought that we could really do something with this. They put all these stories together in order. So at the beginning I'm just a little girl with childish dreams and I want to go into the world of the adults, then I am a bit disappointed, but at the end, again, I want to go into this world to see what's there."
The daughter of a pilot and a translator, Ekaterina ascribes her passion for writing to either her mother, or to her grandmother. "Maybe because my mother does this job as a translator, that's why I love languages... Or maybe the whole thing with writing came from my grandmother, my father's mother, but she died before I was born. I have been told that she used to write poetry and although I haven't read any yet, hope to do so eventually."
Wherever the writing genes came from, it is evident that languages and writing are in Ekaterina's blood; now in her final year at the German high school in Sofia, she is fluent in English, German and Russian, as well as her native Bulgarian.
With so many languages to hand, which does she think in when it comes to writing poetry? "Bulgarian most of the time, but sometimes the words just come in English, or in German, or in Russian. I have friends in Germany who also write and we sometimes send emails to each other with poems inside. Then I get inspired and write in German."
But no matter the language, the most important thing to her is to "see the world in words", whatever language they may be in. "Poetry and writing is about seeing the world in words. I think the first time that I did this was in a November rain, alone in the street. I was 12 or 13." Since then she has always carried her green notebook with her, making note of anything that inspires her: nature, the sea, people. "I meet a lot of interesting people during my day, so I'm often inspired by people: when I hear something on the street, or two women chatting. The main thing that inspires me is when I see the world around me in words, it is something that's difficult to explain, and maybe that's why it's art."
She also draws inspiration from some of Bulgaria's great poets. "I read a lot of Bulgarian poetry and sometimes I'm inspired by a few lines because they give me the faith to believe that I could also write something that good: just a few lines, but with the right words. It's not that I read a poem and think 'that's great, now I'm going to say it in my own words,' it's just I believe that if this poet has written something that good, maybe I could do it too."
She is a fan of Georgi Gospodinov, who she describes as "the best poet in Bulgaria now" and of Hristo Fotev. "He was born in Burgas and writes about the sea and summer magic."
However, the poem which won her a commendation at the Young Poets Award in London last October wasn't about nature, but people: the relationships between people and the process of learning how to love one another. "How it takes time, but when we finally learn how to love each other, the system of education has inevitably changed. For example, you are with this guy X, but by the time you learn how to love him, you are not with him any more. You are with this guy Y and have to start learning all over again."
Ekaterina, who has been with her guy Chavdar, a classmate and national karate champion, for two years, was one of 100 young poets to have their poems selected from 11,000 entries in The Young Poets Award, granting her membership to the esteemed English Poetry Society. She travelled to London last October to be presented with her award at the Globe Theatre. "Kate Clanchy from the jury saw my name badge and said 'Oh Ekaterina! This is the poem where we learn how to love each other, this is great!' I felt so proud."
The competition was open to 11-17 year-olds. "So I won't be allowed to submit any poems this year. I often submit poems to German competitions. I don't know why, but I have more friends there than in the UK, and I communicate more with Germans, perhaps because I speak German everyday at school."
And indeed it looks like Germany will probably be the next stop for this promising young talent. "I would like to study abroad, but then come back to Bulgaria and do something with the things I've learnt," says Ketty. "But I've no idea what yet."
Given what she has achieved already at just 17, we think a little time to make up her mind won't do any harm.
MEMORY OF THE PAST
by Ekaterina Karabasheva
There wasn't such a thing as one of the most
beautiful moments in my life.
And there won't be.
Unless there is.
Two years ago I used to live together with the past. We used to be like lovers, like a family. We spent the days together, we watched TV together, we ate together and we slept together at night. And it was never boring. On principle, the past and I used to talk about the same things, but every time in different ways. We spoke about various themes, but there was a debatable ground in our conversations: sometimes the past tried to convince me that this or that moment in my life was one of the most beautiful ones. But I never believed it. That is why we often started arguing, and at the end of it we slept back to back.
On the next day we pretended that nothing had happened. As if everything was just fine.
Then the present used to come.
We were like elderly pensioners, or maybe like men who want to get rid of their wives at least for a couple of hours, or may be like bosom friends, who haven't seen each other for years. We used to talk about a lot of things, or we watched a movie, or we wrote some poems together, we also painted in water colours a few times and once or twice I cried on its shoulder. We played games, we went for a walk, sometimes it stayed for lunch, and then, in the afternoon, it usually left the house.
In the evening, the past and I used to sit together and talk over what I'd experienced with the present that day. I used to talk about everything, in spite of the fact that the past had often been with me and the present during the day and it already knew everything. And while I was talking, I went through my experiences with the present one more time. If I have to be sincere - it was even more magnificent than it actually had been.
I imagined each moment as in a movie; I experienced everything we had said, everything we had shared and everything we had kept over in silence. I remembered the smallest details, the smallest motions and the smallest pauses between conversations. I remembered the most insignificant steps, the most unimportant sips of coffee and the most imperceptible changes.
Sometimes, when we had had a great time with the present, the past used to tell me that this was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. But I just couldn't believe it. I thought it wasn't one of those, because I hadn't felt it that way. The past pouted, bit its lip and didn't cook any supper.
Then it went to bed early. And on the next day everything went just as before.
But the last time the quarrel was awful. The past became really angry, it told me things that it didn't want to tell me before, and I said many offensive things too. That it couldn't cook, that the time together was boring, that it was insane. It told me that I wasn't normal, that I couldn't think and that I couldn't distinguish the true things from the fake ones. Then it went to bed early again, and I stayed in the living room, on the sofa, in front of the TV.
And then I thought.
For the first time.
And then I thought, if I was really able to assess the time spent together with the present at its true worth, if I was able to live together with the present, if I could be able to lie next to the present at night and to share everything.
If I was able to change my daily routine.
To spend the whole day with the present, to have the past as my guest for a cup of coffee, maybe for a lunch, but nothing more.
Then I stood up, I put a sweater on and I went out really quietly.
I got on the bus, bought a ticket from the driver and sat. And I watched the streets, the people and the cars passing by, like my life had done for the last two years.
As we approached the stop, I stood up and pushed the button.
I got out, dived into the cold air in front of me and I reached the home of the present.
I had a key and got inside without any problems.
The present had fallen into a deep sleep and I didn't want to wake it up, so I took my clothes off silently and I lay down next to it.
We spent the whole next day together, and this time it was better, because we didn't drink any coffee (it turned out that neither I, nor it loved coffee), but we knew that all the time in the world was at our call.
The past called on the phone, I talked to him shortly, I explained everything and it wasn't angry. It almost got my point. Or at least that was what it said.
And then, at the end of the conversation, it repeated its favourite sentence.
This, it said, is one of the most beautiful moments in your life.
But this time its voice was different.
And I didn't object.
We were sitting on the quay that entered 100-150m into the lake. We were sitting on the stones and we pretended to be great. We were sitting within a hand reach - far enough and insufficiently close. She was at my left side (she used to sit like this for two reasons - my right hand is free and I'm always ready to protect her at any moment). And I also like watching her right cheek dimple. Whenever she smiles, a small hole appears, deep enough to give you the impression it could swallow you up.
It seemed we had gone to watch the sunset.
It seemed we had gone to make some things clear.
It seemed we had gone to watch the birds.
I told her:
"Look at the birds."
She cast her bad look at me , the one that is filled with hatred and desperation. She had wrinkled her gentle chin in her efforts not to drop a tear; she had shut her lips not to start insulting me. (She never told me when I let her down or made her nervous. I could tell it by her look.)
I loved her.
I adored her.
In spite of this, I was filled with the insatiable wish to hurt her.
(Not physically, of course. Never.) I wanted to tell her something bad and to insult her. I wanted to see her cry.
"You are getting on my nerves. You're extremely intolerant."
She didn't even look at me. She raised her head towards the birds that made circles above the lake and bit me again.
"Why do you think you're more tolerant than me? And to what?"
I thought about it because I didn't know what to respond.
I loved her.
I adored her.
"For example now I'm tolerant to your intolerance."
A bird that was carrying the sinking sun on her wings flew from me towards her and she followed it with her glance. She turned her head away and stayed like that for some seconds.
I knew it.
She looked in front again and relaxed her chin for a while.
Then she opened her lips to take a breath. I saw her tears gather on her eyes' edges. Now I saw them preparing to drop down.
Fish started jumping.
"Look at the fish jump." (Damn it, how simple I am. She doesn't seem to have an idea of my other thoughts and how beautiful she is.)
She could hardly hiss some words before exploding. (She later told me that at that particular moment she wished to jump into the water so that
I wouldn't be so bad, so that I could get her out of there and carry her in my arms to the hotel. She didn't have the slightest idea that I wasn't that awful, but only wanted to see her cry.) Her first tear gathered some speed down her cheek and crashed into the stone on which we were standing. (Yes, I heard it.) Then another came out more slowly. I adored looking at her at such moments. Moments, I know she is insanely weak, but doesn't reveal it to me and stays far from me. When she finally looks at me I see her tears, running almost parallel, going down her cheeks. She is extremely beautiful like this, I cannot even describe her. Words, music, painting cannot help me either.
It is just a feeling.
That the most beautiful creature is just in front of you, like a small child, and is willing you to hug him. That you want to memorise this picture in your mind as long as you can, that you'd like to freeze at that moment in order to be a part of it.
I had promised her that I wouldn't be bad.
She had promised me too she wouldn't cry.
We had come here to watch the sunset.
It was the sunset that was watching us.
I wanted her to start crying and make a river to the lake.
I wanted her to be my little lake and I could hug her.
The way the birds used to hug the lake.
Instead of saying to her how beautiful she looked, I was just sitting there watching her dully. (And I enjoyed that internally.)
I wanted to hug her, but I was afraid.
I therefore touched her right hand that rested on the stone with my left one. She didn't look at me immediately. She waited a bit more before she turned her head towards me.
And then I shuddered.
I wanted to freeze at that moment.
Or at least to jump into the lake.
If I couldn't hug her.
I madly wanted to hug her.
I put my hands on the stone and moved some 20 cm.
In her direction.
Since I am a man and men don't seem to know what to say or how to say it (or at least it is my case), I silently whispered:
"Come here" - and stretched my hands.
My beauty seemed to be waiting for this. She turned towards me and I hugged her.
She seemed to spill into my arms like the lake in front of us - and I hugged her like a bird. She sank into me and started crying. Really.
Not only to take her tears away, but to cry.
Saying "Please" hundreds of times.
I wanted to hurt her; she didn't want to cry.
We seemed to want something.
However, something else happened.
She melted on my wings and I carried her on them like a sunset.
And I didn't tell her that.
She thought she was vulnerable and I thought I was the winner.
I knew she was unique and I was in her arms.
Then we spoke about many things and we hugged through our jackets.
And I didn't ever tell her anything good and she didn't ever confess she missed it.
We had a walk along the main street, we bought pizzas for home and made love by candlelight.
Like a lake and a bird.
Then she fell asleep in me.
And I realised she couldn't be a lake.
For the simple reason that her tears were salty and the lakes are freshwater.
Then I thought that, apart from this, she couldn't be my lake.
Because she doesn't belong to me.
I kissed her hair and thanked her she was there in my mind.
Then I fell asleep, wrapped her in me.
Then I knew that.
She isn't mine.
But hers I am.
A NEW TREND HAS APPEARED- FRAMES FOR DREAMS
an interview with Alya Stamenova, employee of the "Dream" company
by Ekaterina Karabasheva
We make all kinds of frames
Your sizes Time convenient for you
Daily Home delivery
Phone: 412-00-37 Phone: 413-04-83
Our clients usually have dreams sizing 9x13 cm. What can we do about it? That's the standard and the most widespread type of dream. It seems we often have orders for this size and therefore we offer the largest number of types - simple ones, ornate, coloured, substandard - all types of frames. The ones we sell most are the unusual frames, mainly due to the ordinariness of dreams. Most probably clients are trying to hide the similarity of their dreams - that seems to be easier than to dare to have bigger dreams.
And do you have clients with larger dreams?
Well, yes, some have bigger ones, for example, 10x15, 13x18, 15x21, 18x24, 20x30 and even 30x45. This is big enough. That's almost two spans - can you imagine that? Just think about a dream two spans long. It's a large one. Sometimes we even have to deal with frames of 50x75, or 100x150. Actually, to make a frame of 30x45 or 50x75 takes time and shouldn't be underestimated. A colleague of mine, Koljo, deals with these because he's more dexterous. He has a feel for them, he's really talented. The rest take the smaller, easier ones. What can we do about it? We have a lot of work, since the dreams business is relatively new here and still in the beginning stages. It isn't a thriving business, but it isn't modern to dream. People here seem to be afraid to let their souls go, to dream, to come to us and have an original frame made...as if they're ashamed... Probably it is different in the West. People seem to go beyond the limits of the dreams for a TV, car or fridge. I cannot say I'm competent since I've been here my whole life, in Bulgaria. That's what people say.
Which factors do you think influence dreams? What about the seasons, when have you noticed people dream more and when less?
Summer is the high season. We've really had a lot to do this summer. We've had so many orders that we had to employ more people. And it is not that easy to employ staff - they should be people who enjoy the work and do it from their heart. These are dreams not car parts. In autumn and winter there aren't so many. The weather is gloomy and doesn't provoke many. When spring is on its way, people wake up like nature and start dreaming again. In summer, as I've mentioned, we have many orders. The weather seems to influence it too: We tend to have more work on sunny days than on rainy ones, on warm ones more than on cold ones. It depends.
Who are your clients?
Young people. Smiling people whom life still hasn't shown any lessons. But I really welcome any older person who has dared to stand out from the rest. Of course, the subject of dreams also matters. As I've told you, dreams are very ordinary: a new car or apartment. Frames for these are made by Anatolii, that's his speciality. The professional success dream frames are made by Kaloyan: for good results, university matriculation, a new job or promotion. Which ones do I make? The ones related to family, love and friendship of course. I make them myself since a lot of attention is required, I think they're the most important and I really do my best. I'm that kind of person - of a sensitive temperament, and I really enjoy my work.
Are there any special orders?
Yes, there are: around our clients' birthdays, or holidays like Christmas. They aren't difficult to make, they seem to consist of everything and cannot be divided between the departments. Therefore, all of us gather to make them together. Everyone helps the way they can, with ideas and suggestions, and we manage to prepare something really special. We're very diligent because these dreams include many spheres, for example, family and job success or some other combination.
Are these the most unusual commissions you receive?
Well, there are actually other special ones, but I don't know if I am allowed to talk about them. I don't feel I have the right to reveal information, but I could say a few words. Sometimes an important person comes to us with a big dream. I don't refer to them as to clients, I call them real men. They don't dream about anything related to themselves, like a car, or a computer. They dream about others. They continue their bravest dreams at the point they stopped, when they were forlorn from fear, or in order not to be considered crazy. They want to bring good to the people around them and to leave something to the world. They finish others' dreams and start the dreams of the ones who don't dare to dream. They really want to change the world, they dream about better people, smiles and hearts. They dream about what the others consider pointless, they dream about what the others pretend not to need or dream about because they are so afraid. They simply dream in another way. These are the people with the big dreams.
How do you deal with them?
Do you mean, what frames do we make? Oh, please, when the frames are too narrow for the dreams, we should let them go.
A small rural pub that seems to be buried at the far end of the world. The soft rays of the sunset shed light on the wooden table and the low chair next to it. There is a man sitting on it with his straw hat clapped onto his head, staring somewhere at the mountain. There is a half-empty Burgasko beer and yesterday's newspaper on the table in front of him. A photo and an article: 80-year-old American celebrates her birthday with a parachute jump, stands out in the middle of the open page. Examining the old man's look, I suppose he has already read it. Could she be of the same age? Or probably he's older than her? I can't really sit beside him and ask him so many things and anyway there doesn't seem to be any room for me at the table. As if someone has put only one chair for him on purpose. The square in front of the pub is deserted and only those who witnessed yesterday's village holiday could imagine how many people could be there. The bustle has long gone though. The few young people who had come from the villages near-by have gone back and the only people left are the old man with the straw hat and the young pub owner and the small shop close by. The shop assistant is sweeping silently, while the old man is casting his look down, speechless. His hat's brim doesn't allow me to see what he's thinking about. The heat is painful, tormenting, but neither he nor the pub owner feel the necessity to talk about that. The sun is going down slowly and its last rays are burning his lined skin. His hand, trembling due to his age, is slowly reaching his forehead and wipes the beads of sweat, glistening beautifully in the light of the setting sun. The plump pub owner finishes cleaning and locks the padlock hung on the door, peeling and still creaking when opened and closed.
"I'm leaving. Bye!" The pub owner says to the old man, as if he didn't know this fellow. The old man nods and touches his hat with his finger in response. The pub owner goes away accompanied only by my glance. The old man sadly lifts the bottle of beer and takes a sip. A small sparrow lands close to the old table and searches for food remnants, jumping. But since it doesn't find any it flies away. The soft wind silently ruffles the newspaper's pages, but it seems that neither it, nor the sparrow, or anyone, is capable of distracting the old man. Gazing at the mountain in front of him, it seems that he's reminding himself of his passed youth. His eyes glisten at the thought, but I don't know if it is with joy or with sadness. It's as if for a moment I feel the entire pain hidden in his heart. I seem to realise how sad he is and how he doesn't reveal his feelings. His loneliness seems to be red, just like the sun's last rays. The old man casts his look downwards and I feel the gap in his heart, filled up to that moment, turn time away and embrace his childhood again. I have the feeling that a tear is on its way to fall from the silent man's eyes that will be evidence of his burning pain. Nevertheless, he silently takes a sip of beer and leaves it on the newspaper so that the wind can't lift it. Then he pulls back the wooden chair, rises slowly and slowly goes to the square. There is something impressive about his walk: it is so calm and at the same time full of love for the past. By his bent head I realise that there really has been a red tear in his eyes - which he has swallowed.
But I was sure that if it had dropped, it would have silently broke into thousands of pieces on the article about the American, close on his left and still lit by the sunshine of the bottle of beer.