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Review: Six Macedonian Poets, ed. Igor Isakovski

Stella Stocker, Weyfarers No.111, December 2011

I often get translated collections from various countries. I can't review all of them and many just do not work too well in translation and it can seem as if the translator translated them as if the poems were prose or did not realise that what are doubtless telling phrases and associations in their original language come out clunky and without resonance. Six Macedonian Poets edited by Igor Isakovski has English versions that work well in their own right. In the nature of things, they will be different to the original and this is a feature of translation. There is breadth of subject matter, ranging through love, religious beliefs, loneliness and myth and a striking variety of styles. Elizabeta Bakovska gives a brilliantly insightful description of intense and obsessional love, ending tragically, in Roxanne's Lament:

When I saw you
I became blind to all other men
I left behind everything that I knew
Buried the girl I used to be
In the dust on my father's threshold...

The impassioned sentiments accelerate ...I silenced the gods I used to pray to..., I squeezed into the small part of your heart / where you still carried love...

Lidija Dimkovska's Decent Girl is sharply witty as well as expressive of sorrow and anger at rejection:

I took my perspective of the future to a thrift store
but nobody would buy it. The net is prickly
and there are no more heroes. Sorrow is purely physical pain...

going on later in the poem to paradox

what I'm afraid of is the existing attitude of God
the God who does not exist, and I'm afraid of his great eyes...