Nikola Madzirov

Poet, essayist, translator. He was born in 1973 in Strumica, North Macedonia, in the family of war refugees from the Balkan Wars. When he was 18, the collapse of Yugoslavia prompted a shift in his sense of identity – as a writer reinventing himself in a country which felt new but was still nourished by deeply rooted historical traditions. The example and work of the great East European poets of the postwar period – Vasko Popa, Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert – were liberating influences on his writing and thinking. There is a clear line from their generation, but Madzirov's voice is a new voice in European poetry. His poems are translated into more than forty languages. For the book Relocated Stone (2007) was given the East European Hubert Burda poetry award and the most prestigious Macedonian poetry prize Miladinov Brothers at Struga Poetry Evenings. Other awards include Studentski Zbor award for best debut in Macedonia and Xu Zhimo Silver Leaf award for European poetry at King’s College, Cambridge. American jazz composer and collaborator of Björk and Lou Reed — Oliver Lake, have composed music based on Madzirov's poems. He was granted several international fellowships: International Writing Program (IWP) at University of Iowa in USA; DAAD in Berlin; Marguerite Yourcenar in France or Passa Porta in Brussels. Mark Strand said: “Madzirov's poetry is like discovering a new planet in the solar system of the imagination.”, while Adam Zagajewski wrote: “Madzirov's poems are like Expressionist paintings: filled with thick, energetic streaks they seem to emerge from the imagination and to return to it right away, like night animals caught in the headlights of a car.” Reviews about his poetry books appeared in “Der Spiegel”, “World Literature Today”, “El Pais”… His book in English Remnants of Another Age, with foreword by Carolyn Forché was published in US by BOA Editions and in UK by Bloodaxe Books.



I lived at the edge of the town

like a streetlamp whose light bulb

no one ever replaces.

Cobwebs held the walls together,

and sweat our clasped hands.

I hid my teddy bear

in holes in crudely built stone walls

saving him from dreams.


Day and night I made the threshold come alive

returning like a bee that

always returns to the previous flower.

It was a time of peace when I left home:


the bitten apple was not bruised,

on the letter a stamp with an old abandoned house.


From birth I’ve migrated to quiet places

and voids have clung beneath me

like snow that doesn’t know if it belongs

to the earth or to the air.



                           Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid