Izidora Angel translating Peyo Yavorov

Translator Note on Peyo Yavorov

I worked on translating “A Howling Gale” (“List Otbrulen”; first anthologized in 1910), literally “Torn, broken leaf,” on and off for about six months. There is a sense that translation is never really finished; it is eternally in development. I could fall into a black hole with nearly each individual word—a fact compounded by the existence of the very specific rhyming structure in the original: A, B, C, D, D, B. This seemingly small poem is extraordinarily relevant to the immigrant experience—even to the refugee experience—of today. The author himself writes it while he is in a foreign country—Macedonia. The image of the leaf, being blown away from home, at the mercy of all, is potent. It speaks to the eternal otherness of us as humans; ultimately, everyone is alien. As an immigrant myself, there is hardly a more stinging verse than “But for him none waits, / so why the little orphan / for the motherland should wail?”—because although there might not be anybody back home waiting, she who has left country and family always cries for her motherland.

A Howling Gale

The broken leaf … God knows where
The wind will wrench.
      Just as the orphan
For a foreign land departs –
Cast off, unquenched.

The broken leaf … finds solace somewhere
in the vail.
     For him none waits,
So why the little orphan
For the motherland should wail?

Лист отбрулен

Лист отбрулен... Бог знай де го
вятъра завлече.
  И сирака
тъй отмина на чужбина -
сам, далече.

Лист отбрулен... Мир за него
в някоя долина.
 Кой го чака,
та сираче да заплаче
по родина?

Peyo Yavorov

Peyo Yavorov (1878-1914) was a great Bulgarian poet known for his symbolism. He was a student of French modernism and his poems are marked by а deeply tragic romanticism and loss. A prominent member of the “Misal” (Thought) cultural circle, he lost his first love to tuberculosis. He became blind after attempting suicide following the suicide of his wife Laura, then succeeded on his second try a year later following a painful public trial and accusations that he was guilty of his wife’s murder.

Izidora Angel

Izidora Angel is a Bulgarian-born writer, translator and curator living in Chicago. She has written essays and critique for the Chicago Reader, Publishing Perspectives, Three Percent, Egoist and more. For translated excerpts of the novel The Same Night Awaits Us All: Diary of a Novel, she was awarded a literary translator’s residency at Open Letter Books in New York in conjunction with the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation (EKF); Izidora was also awarded an English PEN grant, and a fellowship at Writers OMI at Ledig House in November 2015, together with the author of the novel, Hristo Karastoyanov. Her translation of the novel, supported by EKF, is forthcoming from Open Letter Books in Spring 2017.