Six Poems by Ivan Hristov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel

Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel.
This is part of our special feature on Contemporary Bulgarian Literature.




Your thighs – acacia

White, with a pleasant scent

Able to endure low

and high temperatures

Used for reinforcing

steep hillsides swaths

With a deep root system

Reaching wet layers of soil

A precious honey-producing species

Transparent pale-greenish honey

Dark brown seeds

A flat follicle

ripens at the end of summer

In the core of every stem

two prickly thorns





Alabaster is the world

In a milk-white colour

Milk-white sea

Milk-white sky

Sugar milk-white

in warm white milk

It has a porous structure

A vessel for perfumes

and essential oils

can easily be crafted






(from French brillant – “glittering”)


For reference see: Diamond

Two fused cones

The upper – truncated

The angles at their base

and between their facets

are chosen so as to

attain the maximal

internal reflection of the light

In this way obtaining

the best brilliance





A hard, glittering gray-blue metal

Its name comes from

the German word “Kobold” – spirit, goblin

When heated, cobalt minerals

give off toxic fumes

The ancient Norwegians

attributed poisoning while forging silver

to this evil spirit

Most likely the name comes from the same root

as the Greek “kobalos” – smoke

The Greeks also used this word for lies

Cobalt is mainly used

to improve heat resistance

It is also an element in some

wear-resistant alloys

for the crafting of

tools for cutting




A color of the group of non-spectral colors

A combination of blue and red

similar to purple

It belongs to the warm colors

not like purple


belongs to the cold ones

It is often confused with dark red

Similar to blood red


Power, monarchy, high aristocracy







A flower turned outside-in,

keeping its pollen inside.

Those who are fond of the fruit,

and vegetarians, too,

might be revolted,

when they find out that

its luxurious taste

comes from a wasp, rotting inside it

The female wasp creeps through

the narrow orifice of the fig,

her wings are torn,

she lays her eggs and successfully pollinates the fruit

Having lost her ability to fly,

the wasp dies

Although the fig cannot reproduce without this deadly cycle,

many vegans and vegetarians refuse to consume figs




Ivan Hristov is a Bulgarian poet and literary researcher. He is the author of the poetry collections Farewell, Nineteenth Century (winner of the prize for best poetic debut from the National Southern Spring Competition 2002) and Bdin (winner of the national literary prize Svetlostruy 2006, in 2015 “Bdin” was published in Turkey), as well as the academic monograph The Sagittarius Circle and the Idea of the Native (2009). In 2013 his third poetry book American poems was published. In 2016 in Romania was published the book Bdin, followed by American poems which contains his last two poetry books. Since 2010, he has been a member of the organizing committee for the international Sofia: Poetics festival. He currently works at the Institute for Literature at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Angela Rodel is a professional literary translator living and working in Bulgaria. She holds a B.A. from Yale and an M.A. from UCLA in linguistics. She received a 2014 NEA translation grant for Georgi Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter 2015), as well as a 2010 PEN Translation Fund Grant for Georgi Tenev’s short story collection Holy Light – the first time a Bulgarian-language work has received either award. Her translation of Physics of Sorrow won the National Book Center’s 2015 Peroto Prize for best translation from Bulgarian, the 2016 AATSEEL Prize for Best Book of Literary Translation, and was nominated for the three most prestigious translation awards in the US: finalist for the 2016 PEN Translation Prize, the 2016 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award for 2016.



Published on December 6, 2017.


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