The Bulgarian

“Write each of your poems
as if it were your last.
In this century, saturated with strontium,
charged with terrorism,
flying with supersonic speed,
death comes with terrifying suddenness.
Send each of your words
like a last letter before execution,
a call carved on a prison wall.
You have no right to lie,
no right to play pretty little games.
You simply won’t have time
to correct your mistakes.
Write each of your poems,
tersely, mercilessly,
with blood — as if it were your last.”

blaga dimitrovaBlaga Dimitrova (1922 – 2003) was a Bulgarian poet and Vice President of Bulgaria from 1992-93. . In the 1970’s her work became more critical of the communist government and she received reprimands for not being politically correct.

The sense of urgency, of fire, of life, resonates very deeply in this poem with its allusions to our contemporary world. Things seem to just get faster and faster, so fast, in fact, that the meaning of it all is skinned away by the friction of the journey. Here, the artist is given a manifesto, a laying bare of what the responsibilities of this life requires – total dedication and commitment to being alive and awake and caring; and, perhaps, in so doing, awake our brothers and sisters from the sleep of materialism. There is no second chance, no room for hesitation or the ego. Every step, every stroke, every word may be your last.

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