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Moving interview with Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov -- don't miss it!

poesiefestival photo courtesy of In perhaps one of the coolest interviews we at BOA have heard in a long time, host and notable poet Ilya Kaminsky discusses with Nikola Madzirov, award-winning Macedonian poet and author of BOA book Remnants of Another Age, "the poetics of war and its aftermath, and the nature of memory and rediscovering." The extensive audio recording of the interview is truly a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into linguistic, cultural, and historical concepts currently ongoing in the studies of so many scholars, all from the fascinating lived experiences and memories of Madzirov. Madzirov has been called "one of the most powerful voices in New European poetry," and his work has already been translated into 30 languages. The interview is part of The Poetry Foundation's "Poetry Lectures," a series which features "talks given by notable scholars and critics on poets, poetry, and their intersections with other art forms." Being that Madzirov was born in 1973 into a family of Balkan War refugees, he has a unique connection to past and present "worlds," and is living in the midst of a dramatically transforming culture even today. The interview reveals how his own life has been shaped, molded, and changed by the civil war that "devastated Yugoslavia" in the 1990s, and discusses how his poetry is like the work of an "archeologist," a constant exploration of his country's past and present traditions. Madrizov discusses the deep and powerful oral traditions of his country's literature, disclosing that the traditions have survived even into the present day because of the 500-year rule of the Ottoman Empire, which forced people to "whisper amongst themselves" in order to tell stories, sing songs, and ultimately "protect themselves and their families." The way Madzirov describes the power of poetry in his country is so refreshing and impactful, it almost reinvents the art's definition, (if there is any true definition). In his language, he says, there is a special word for the translation of poetry, and he explains the meaning as something like "resinging a song over and over again". While many associate memory with "learning by heart," Madrizov and those of his language say "learning by mind," thus committing memory to workings of the mind, thought, and contemplation rather than only unidentifiable senses. In the interview, Madzirov reads poems which he finds relevant to his own memories of childhood and warfare, including compelling poems of others and his own. In one of his vivid memories, he talks of one of his female relatives who was often asked to sing spontaneous poems of celebration at weddings, or of mourning over gravestones, and he expresses awe and wonder over the way human beings look to other human beings to cry out and sing for them their own personal griefs, joys, and emotions. Thanks to The Poetry Foundation, the full interview is available for download here. Trust us, you do not want to miss this! In other (amazing) news, Madzirov is currently on his way to Berlin, Germany, for the 13th Poesiefestival, a week-long festival which will begin tomorrow (June 1) with a "firework display of contemporary poetry, ranging from traditional poetry to poetry with live illustration to Sound Poetry to Spoken Word and rap." Madzirov, who will take place in many of the week's events, has been called "something of a shooting star in new contemporary poetry" on the festival's webpage. It is written on the site that his poems are "penetrating," with "precise imagery ... effortlessly creating beauty out of melancholy." In the festival events, "Madzirov will be talking to poet Alexander Gumz about his work and his poetics, about the poetry of his country and the international poetic life." Each of the featured poets at the festival will read poetry in their own languages, unaccompanied by translation, and will be included in an anthology published specifically for this big event, providing German translations. The festival is sure to "bring together various poetic viewpoints" as well as "show the broad spectrum of international poetry and its contemporary power." See more details of the Berlin Poesiefestival here.
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