Katerina Stoykova-Klemer translating Ekaterina Yosifova

Translator Statement

Ekaterina Yosifova is a beloved Bulgarian poet. She is respected and known for her unassuming style of peering into the present moment, sizing up her place in the web of life. She takes her time, looks closely, listens intently to objects, concepts, events, and allows each and every one to reveal its knowledge to her. Then she holds that knowledge until it she is able to present it to us in the form of an Ekaterina Yosifova poem—a gem of wisdom that is able to wink at itself, a seemingly two-dimensional work that displays additional layers on subsequent readings. These two poems are a recent sample of this poet’s work. In “I ASSUME A COMFORTABLE POSITION,” she talks about the quiet, nonviolent rebellion of reading and tending to our own spiritual and intellectual needs. In “WORD WEB,” I see a speaker who values her own individuality and is determined to live her life on her own terms. There is humor in both works, and this complete lack of self-importance makes the work more significant in the eyes of this reader.


on the couch, the pillow, the fluffy blanket,
the books.
The lighting is also good.
Nobody enters,
though I don’t lose hope
that someone would come in and say
with reproach:
this government also fell,
yet you’re reading Lao Tzu.
To which I’d answer:


Since we are
more or less connected,
with more or less visible
colorful threads,
to the heads, pockets, genitals,
clothes, tongues and so on

a beautiful cobweb conjoining
and still after all
skipping someone
and why
and who

I hope,
me too.

Ekaterina Yosifova

Ekaterina Yosifova was born on June 4, 1941, in Kyustendil, Bulgaria. She holds a degree in Russian philology from St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia, and she has worked as a teacher, journalist, and dramaturge, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of the literary almanac Struma.

Yosifova is the author of 12 books of poetry, most recently This Snake, published in 2012, for which she received the national Ivan Nikolov Award. Additionally, books of her poetry have been published in translation in Macedonia, Hungary, Slovenia, and France. She has received numerous national and international literary awards, and her poetry has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives and works in Sofia.

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer is the author of several poetry books in English and Bulgarian, most recently The Porcupine of Mind (Broadstone Books, 2012, in English) and How God Punishes (ICU, 2014, in Bulgarian), which won the Ivan Nikolov National Poetry Prize. She is the editor of The Season of Delicate Hunger: Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry (Accents Publishing, 2014), for which she also translated the works of 29 of the 32 included authors. For six years she hosted Accents, a radio show for literature, art and culture on WRFL in Lexington, Kentucky. In January 2010, Katerina launched the independent literary press Accents Publishing. Katerina co-wrote the independent feature film Proud Citizen, directed by Thom Southerland, and acted in the lead role.