You have come to Romania not for the first time, but this time you were invited by the Lower Danube Cultural Centre of Galați and the Bucharest Department – Literary Translations of The Romanian Writers’ Union. How did you find the flow of the Danube?
I’m very grateful for having a chance to be a participant in the Galati-on-Danube Literary Festival. I have been in Romania couple of times before as poet, musician, and also as a tourist. I really like Romania and I’m always happy to come back. This time I had a nice chance to experience the magnificent river Danube. The meetings with the Romanian and with the international poets at the Festival was very motivating for me. The river and the landscapes have inspired me to write new verses and to start working on a narrative poem dedicated to rivers.
You had a stroll on the famous Galați promenade. Did you enjoy the steel sculptures from the 1970ies?
I find The Galati promenade as an artistic “time-machine”, a sort of Open-air Museum. Walking by those wonderful monumental sculptures from the 1970ies was a very inspirative experience. I admired some of the sculptures and I took many photos for my friends who are visual artists. I also got an idea about a short story related to the sculptures on the river bank.
I find The Galati promenade as an artistic “time-machine”
You came to the festival in Galati-on-the-Danube not only to recite poetry, but also to read your freshly written poem about the Danube that many literature lovers appreciated very much. How did this connection with the big river come into being for you?
It was a huge challenge for me to dare to write about the Danube. I saw this beautiful river in many spots (in Bratislava, Budapest, Novi Sad, Belgrade and Ruse) but I haven’t been to its Delta before. As soon as I started to write the poem (only a week before the festival) a flow of poetic images has come to me and I started to follow that poetic river. It’s actually a poem on an imaginary bridge over the river Danube. In a certain way, it’s a poem on the topic of the internal clash between Nature (the river) and our rather militaristic Civilization. I’m extremely happy for the nice feedback at the Festival.
How do you feel the festival? Did you feel friendship in the air?
I’m very fond of literary festivals in general. This Festival was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about the Romanian poetry scene. Thanks to the festival I met many new poetry fellows, I discovered many interesting poets. The mood was very friendly and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the organizers for their hospitality.
Thanks to PEN, I get to know many wonderful writers all around the globe
When and where were you invited on different occasions in Romania as a poet?
In 2010 I was awarded the most important poetry prize in Macedonia, Brothers Miladinovci by the International festival Struga Poetry Evenings. The same year, I was invited to the Poetry Festival in Curtea de Argeș: a bilingual (English and Romanian) selection of my poetry was published by that festival. When Sibiu was a European Capital of Culture of Europe in 2007 I had a concert with the band “Baklava” in that beautiful city as well.
What role does the PEN-membership play in your life?
Thanks to PEN, I get to know many wonderful writers all around the globe. I’m convinced that the struggle for freedom of expression is a task of every writer and artist. Currently, I’m the Vice-President of the Macedonian PEN club. In June 2019 we had our 17thRegional PEN Conference, and we had guests from all regional PEN clubs, including the Romanian PEN, represented by the writer and translator Mircea Dan Duta. Thanks to this conference, we have started to work on a Balkan Literature Anthology and we have also many future projects of literary cooperation.
What do you think about the recent initiative of the Romanian PEN and the Romanian Association for the Blind?
It’s a wonderful initiative! I was deeply moved by this initiative conceived by the Romanian PEN and presented by the writer Radu Sergiu Ruba, former president of the Romanian Association for the Blind that took place at the Green Hours Theater in Bucharest. The blind people should have the rights and the means for artistic and literary expression as well as real access to the literary heritage and contemporary literature. This issue is linked with the freedom of expression and the quest for finding a solution for many talented blind and disabled writers and readers in the world. I will propose the Macedonian PEN to sustain the Romanian initiative of the aforementioned association.
You are a poet. What does it mean to listen to your poetry in another language?
It’s a great experience! You feel that your poetry starts to live a new life in another language. Your poems are reborn in new languages and cultural areas, and that’s how they have the chance to get a new readership in another country. So far, my poetry has been translated into about 20 different languages. I’m very happy that one of them is Romanian.
During the Poetry Festival in Galați-on-the-Danube I translated a book of haiku written by my new friend, the Bulgarian poet Petar Chuhov!
You are a translator, too. What does literary translation mean to you?
The literary translation is a huge challenge and joy at the same time: when I read a poem or book that I like, I always try to translate it into my mother language. Hence, during the Festival in Galați-on-the-Danube I translated a book of haiku written by my new friend, the Bulgarian poet Petar Chuhov. I translate in usually from French, English and the South Slavic languages.
What do you take from the Festival Danube Port that took place in Galați-on-the Danube?
I took the joy of meeting writer fellows and new friends: I was so happy to share the joy for Halep’s success at Wimbledon with my new Romanian friends, for instance. I also took many impressions from the Danube and Galati that I will probably use in my future writings.