Paperback: 147 pages
Publisher: Fakel Express
Katerina Stoykova's first book is a bilingual edition of poetry with each piece appearing side by side in both English and Bulgarian. Originally written in English, each work was translated by the author into Bulgarian, her native language. The book is comprised of three sections: My Mother Was Going to War; E.T. and I Phone Home; and The Apple Who Wanted to Become a Pinecone.
Although I have followed Katerina's work on the Internet and through her Lexington radio program, Accents, I did not meet her until just recently. She attended the September meeting of The Community of Mercer County Writers, and we were thrilled to have her with us.
Katerina is originally from Bulgaria, but now calls Kentucky home. This is her first book of poetry and it is actually a dual book - the left side is in English, the right side in her native Bulgarian. Divided into 3 parts, this insightful collection moves from the cancer diagnosis of her mother to the shock and awe of relocating to a new home and finally to the acceptance of the "foreign" American culture.
In the first part of the book - "My Mother Was Going to War" we learn her Mother is dying from cancer. Katerina opens her heart and allows the reader to see into her soul and reflect on her loved ones in Bulgaria. "Stones" highlights the agonizing pull of peer pressure, "Last Time" deals with the grief of death, and "Grandpa Refuses to Visit" shows the conflicted strife within many families. The tone of this first section reflects misery, regret, but anticipation of the events to come.
The second part of the book - "E.T. and I Phone Home" - is my favorite . I see a strong woman coming to grips in a strange culture, yet she is able to see beauty all around her. Without a doubt, my favorite poem of the entire collection is "Sus-toss."
"Sus-toss is a word in the Hopi language to describe the disease that people suffer when they move to live on new lands."This poems speaks to my heart and tugs at the part of myself that keeps me from seeing the beauty around me. Wrapped up in my own cocoon of worry and strife, this poem opened my eyes to the possibility others are feeling the same way I feel - I am not alone. Hearing Katerina read this poem aloud, with your beautiful accent and power of conviction, "Sus-toss" took on an air of hope.
"The Apple Who Wanted To Become a Pinecone" is the last section of the book and I think Katrina managed her objective - to fall far away from the tree. She has found her voice and unnecessary words have been removed - she is short, direct and to the point. The verses may be short but they are dripping with emotions and oozing understanding. In "Reluctance" I begin to feel empathy for a spare tire - I'll never think of a flat tire in the same way again.
Katrina manages to take every day items - the alphabet, an apple, fish scales, even geometry - and transform them into delicious morsels for thought. She has made me look at poetry in an entirely different light, and for that I will always be grateful.
How do you write a poem? You "catch the air around the butterfly."