It has to be said that the name Petya Dubarova did not originally ring any bells. A quick search suggests that the young Bulgarian poet was somewhat of a pseudo obscure celebrity in her short 17 years, until you read her poetry. The work is subtle yet highly engaging. She is able to bring a tangible presence to her writing in a way that is unusual in one so young. Similarly her worldliness (despite inexperience) verges on sublime, yet also containing - paradoxically - an innocence.
In response to her death, many writers have found solace and inspiration in Dubranova’s words. Indeed, it is from this inspiration that South African poet, Abigail George, presents this series of short writings in homage and reverence to the Bulgarian. Each takes on a different perspective, sometimes directly referencing the words of Dubarova, sometimes just drawing on themes or a tone present in the work. All have a prose poem feeling about them. Words taking on symbolic meaning as each sentence weaves around the 17 year old Bulgarian.
In considering the impact of the writing, one must look to the original work. Certainly researching at least a few of the poems will help to access this collection. Initially trying to read it without this background knowledge proved difficult, a struggle to connect with the meanings of the interpretations. However, a short flick through the language and style of Dubarova helped to clarify a few misgivings or misunderstandings.
As part of an almost cathartic journey for George, there are direct connections between events in her own life, and that of the poet. She addresses those close to her, family and lovers, friends and enemies - with the equal measure of venom and respect that she believes each deserves.
Overall, this is a beautifully crafted, and curated collection of episodes connecting two worlds. It is a thoroughly engaging and enriching experience to read these concepts and to learn more about this phenomenally talented teenager. Highly recommended!
Reviewer: Chris Reed