This biennial award honors Tony Quagliano’s poetic contributions by recognizing an accomplished poet with an outstanding body of work. Created and administered in honor of Tony Quagliano and his contributions, winning poets exemplify what Tony loved—poetic innovation that embraces experimental craft and a joy in unexpected language. Our thanks to the Tony Quagliano Poetry Fund and its many donors for supporting this literary legacy.
This year’s winner is poet Margarita Serafimova, whose experiments with micro-poems invite the reader to linger—to spend time with the ephemeral images evoked by her concentrated reductive language. Amalia Bueno, author of Home Remedies and this year’s judge of the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, had this to say about Margarita’s poetry:
These spare poems pull the reader into a natural regenerative cycle of creation and destruction, a process that permeates the inner and outer landscapes we inhabit. From the creation of a universe richly imagined with stars, ocean, flora, fauna, cities, relationships, and communities, these innovative poems summon us to interact with the poet’s inventive images, narratives, and lyrics. Deeply meditative with expansive philosophical perspectives of progression and succession, these poems ultimately bring us back to an “eternal return,” to the bodies we create, dwell in, and “pass along together.”
Margarita writes and publishes her poetry in her native Bulgarian and in English. In a January 2020 interview with Ursula Hurley, published in erbacce, Margarita describes her poetic drive: “I simply desire to recreate the essence of what happened to me; not dilute or overgrow it with superfluous words. If I get the feeling that I did manage to distill the moment that I had, I have satisfaction. I serve the moment. Moments are emperors.” You can read more of this compelling interview HERE, where you can also find more of her poetry. Asked if she views her poems as fragments, Margarita suggests that she views her poems as encapsulating “subtle bursts of existence.” There is a furious joy in this process, which is palpable in the 5 poems you will read below. Each poem stands alone, and yet a connective tissue pulls between them, as does the life that collects all moments of existence into a singular perspective. Some images that are particularly striking: the waves were rearing their clear heads—brilliantly dressed in his temperament—flowers articulate themselves/by being their bodies—a seeable cry of serious, furious joy. Clear resonating words.
Margarita has been wonderfully generous sharing much of her work with us. In addition to the poems she has shared here and the interview linked above, you can find a written and audio version of her poem, “Desiring the Earth,” at Liquid Imagination. You can also find her poems at LIT, Trafika Europe, Poetry South, erbacce, The High Window, and Waxwing to list just a few. All Margarita’s poems, published in journals and magazines, are linked and accessible through her Facebook page.
L’éternel retour (Eternal Return)
An animal I am when I love you,
and above my face, an aureole of cosmic bodies is spinning –
ringed planets; a star’s glint.
On a Sunday morning once, when I was in the Circle,
the waves were rearing their clear heads,
and, with no eyes, seeing me.
I was transparent before them.
A flame of spring, erupts the cry of the pheasant,
brilliantly dressed in his temperament.
It is seemingly gray.
In the hearts of the grasses, it is burning.
Σάββατο του Λαζάρου
(Saturday of Lazarus)
I read today that flowers articulate themselves
by being their bodies,
their inwardly lucent matter an epiphany of their sense.
Having being, being language.
I am not forming words.
This is merely the clearness of my eye.
When the sun is ready, it comes down on the sea surface,
and starts racing on it, a single soul harnessed,
freed of all body,
streaming her own self – a lash of windstorm,
a seeable cry of serious, furious joy.
Margarita Serafimova is a Pushcart 2020 nominee and a finalist in nine other U.S. and international poetry contests. She has four collections in Bulgarian and a chapbook, “A Surgery of A Star” (Staring Problem Press, CA). Her digital chapbook, ‘Еn-tîm’ (Wilderness), is forthcoming by the San Francisco University Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange in 2021. A full-length collection, ‘A White Boat and Foam’, is to be published by Interstellar Flight Press in 2022. Her work appears widely, including at Nashville Review, LIT, Agenda Poetry, Poetry South, Botticelli, London Grip, Steam Ticket, Waxwing, A-Minor, Trafika Europe, Noble/ Gas, One, Obra/ Artifact, Great Weather for Media, Origins, Nixes Mate,Writing Disorder, Orbis, Moria.
Visit her on Facebook HERE.
Serafimova’s full-length collections in Bulgarian include ‘Earth and Love’ (2019), ‘The Insolubility of Splendour’ (2018), ‘Demons and World’ (2017), ‘Animals and Other Gods’ (2016). See an excerpt from ‘Demons and World’ HERE.
Serafimova is a strategic international human rights lawyer by profession, who has been publishing her poetry since 2016. Based in Sofia, she writes in both English and Bulgarian.
This is the cover of A Surgery of A Star (what a wonderful title), Margarita’s latest chapbook and it’s published by Staring Problem Press. Click on the photo to check it out.
Prior Publication Credits
A note on the wonderful artwork. . .
The beautiful visual pieces here were all provided by Margarita Serafimova. The illustration “Breakthrough” is by Kiril Zlatkov. The banner photograph and the cover image of A Surgery of A Star are by Milen Neykov.