Monday, August 4, 2008
TEN SONGS FROM BULGARIA: UPDATE
After posting the earlier piece on Linda Nemec Foster's "Ten Songs From Bulgaria," I asked her to tell me something about the inspiration for this new book.
Here's what she wrote:
Ten Songs from Bulgaria is my latest chapbook (my eighth poetry collection) and it was recently published by Cervena Barva Press in Massachusetts. It was a top finalist in the Press' national chapbook competition and, although it did not win, the editor accepted the manuscript for publication. The poems were inspired by the black and white photographs of Bulgarian artist, Jacko Vassilev.
Several years ago, Harper's Magazine featured a portfolio of his work and I was very moved by his haunting portraits of the people that inhabit the fringes of Eastern European society: the inmates of mental institutions, the very poor, the homeless veterans, the destitute and abandoned, the itinerant musician and his performing bear trying to smile for the camera. I knew I had to write poems in response to Vassilev's work.
With my Polish and Slavic heritage, I have always been fascinated by the "other Europe"---not the traditional tourist traps of Britain, France, Italy, or Germany (they certainly have their allure)---but the landscape of central and eastern Europe that only recently has been released from history's dark shadow. In some places, that shadow still persists and Vassilev's photographs reflect the people living there with their joys, sorrows, exurberance, and pain. I hope my poems in some way recognize their lives and honor their spirits. As poet and writer living in America, I was overwhelmed by these images from the other side of the world.
Linda's Ten Songs from Bulgaria is available from Cervena Barva Press.
Vassilev's photos are available for viewing online at his website.
You can find out more about Linda Nemec Foster at her website.