Ashes of LightBook - 2006
Ashes of Light provides a broad spectrum of Levchev's work. This volume of new and selected poems testifies to the continuing vibrancy of this most critically acclaimed and most popular poet of Bulgaria. Although a major voice protesting against oppression, he is also known for his poems about love and death and the mystery of existence. His is an orphic voice, tender and prophetic.
His sympathy with the working class is evident in such poems as "Lullaby" and Gimmebreadye." He never lost his faith in socialist principles in spite of the crackdown on writers during the cold war. His friend, Yevtushenko wrote him on his 70th birthday, "We didn't leave socialism; socialism left us."
One of the charming things about Levchev's poetry is his sly and often self-deprecating humor, even in his treatment of serious matters and grand themes. "Almost like Sisyphus / and quite like myself / I heave the stone a little," he begins in a poem on the swift passage of time and life's vanities. The poems in Ashes of Light are arranged in chronological order. Read straight through in this order, they tell the story of a man who has thought much, suffered much, and loved much and who has a deep sense of spirituality and an abiding love for the natural world.
It is fitting that the art work accompanying the poems is by Mark Gerard McKee, who, during his time in Bulgaria, sketched many of the kinds of people Lyubomir writes about with the same passion and intensity. Although not "illustrations" in any sense of the word, these drawings capture the inherent spirit of the poet.
Poet and translator Valentin Krustev was born in Bulgaria in 1949. His poetry collection, Between Heaven and Earth was published by Orpheus Press in 2005. He has translated extensively from English and Russian, including books by Joseph Brodsky and William Meredith. His translations from and into English have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary magazines.