Six Macedonian Poets

In Skopje I stumbled into a secondhand bookshop, where I bought a copy of Arc Publications’ Six Macedonian Poets. In the blurb, it’s described as representing multi-vocal and multi-generational perspectives – yes, a bit eclectic. From among the poets/translators featured, I like the work of Elizabeta Bakovska best. The younger artists’ poems are rife with modern, urban imagery; they’ve incorporated elements of pop culture into their poetics, and I’m not sure how I feel about this melange.

Here are my favourite lines from Bakovska:

“And then your conscience bit into

the ripe apple of your heart.

Carrying traces of teethmarks on your chest

you left, for my mouth

was too hard” (27).


And here are a few lines by Lidija Dimkovska (I’m probably killing these poems likes this):

“I took my perspective of the future to a thrift store

but nobody would buy it” (47).

“The walls hurt from my mother’s Gobelin tapestries” (57).


I admire the wit of translator Zoran Ančevski in these lines from Jovica Ivanovski’s poem:

“everyone in Café Paszkowski stands up and applauds

every poet actor arty-farty

with brandy vodka cocktail-mocktail

gets inspiration for recreation” (149).


Here is my favourite poem from the younger generation:



Bucharest 5.30

Bucharest at five –

my new shoes

are by the door.

Bucharest, five thirty

seagulls free,


the sun bashfully undressing

Bucharest, replete and beautiful

shamelessly colourful, with perfumed concrete

Bucharest, seven thirty

the last garlands before the first flight tonight

and I pour whiskey from my bag:

we should invent an honourable withdrawal

Bucharest, late afternoon

escorts me with a storm –

last night I was sitting on a terrace

watching the seagulls

light up the sky:

white stripes freed from meaning

now I have more whiskey than water

and not a fucking cent

we should invent a proud retreat

Bucharest, late afternoon

takes me strolling through Eliade’s labyrinths

too much literature for one day

I slowly withdraw

I leave the scene with a gentle bow –

yet another city I will return to

Bucharest at dusk

Bucharest in June

Bucharest with deep necklines

Bucharest with small firm breasts

Bucharest with salmon chased by white seagulls

(Igor Isakovski, translated by I. Isakovski & E. Bakovska)

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