(On the poetry book The Road by Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva,
Skopje: Publisher, 2018)
Far from ourselves and our neighbour
we have forgotten the purpose of the Journey
Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva, “The Road with a Heart”
Ever since the oldest preserved literary works, the topos of the road and the journey has been inseparable from poetry. Even when it doesn’t explicitly speak about travel, poetry allows us to travel in the lyrical chronotopes and in the realms of poets’ imagination. But when the Road and the Journey become a key unifying thread of the poetic corpus, the poetic journey grows into an extraordinary adventure of the spirit. Such is the case with the latest poetry book The Road (2018) by Violeta Tanceva-Zlateva, a book that guides the readers on a subtle lyrical journey, which is a wonderful continuation of the previous “pages/stages” i.e. publications from her poetic road: My Picasso (2007), Captives of Silence (2010), Fiery (2011), Our Story (2013) and Summerless Year (2015).
The Road is a consistently conceived, composed and rounded poetic whole. In the prologue of the book, i.e. in the poem “On the Road of Poetry” Tancheva-Zlateva in medias res announces (to us) that the metaphor of the Road is one of the most accurate indications of the secrets of poetic art. That the poet is a traveller towards the Unknown (as Baudelaire said), is indicated by the first verses of the book (I don traveller’s clothes / and go in search of happiness), and we are warned that the journey is uncertain and risky with the verses: between the devil / and the deep sea / I’m trying to find the middle. From the first (until the final) verses of this exciting poem (but also in the entire book), the reader can sense that the poetic journey here is not a “goal in itself”, or some “fun and leisure”, but an essential, fateful need: I realize that I cannot give up / Poetry / it is destined / written in the veins. Indeed, as the verses from the effective prologue suggest, Poetry grows into a Road, when it has the power and capacity (to) make my soul smell (…) to comfort my everyday life.
On the other hand, the epilogue poem “Exaltation” personifies each poem as a living being, with its own way of birth and creation. In Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva’s poetry, the poem is equivalent to the quintessence of life. The poem i.e. poetry is always here, in the everyday life of the poet, the poem is a constant opportunity for exaltation: It patiently waits for me to remember / that I have already given birth to it in me / It keeps its own germ / It doesn’t allow for it to sink into nothingness / Lonely – it doesn’t complain of loneliness. / Every day it opens its own way by itself (…) It does not give up on me / I am its as much as it is my premonition.
It is exactly such poems – alive and vibrant, honest and unforced, warm and human, i.e. poems that “waited for their time to come” that the poetry book The Road is composed of. The compactness of the collection of poems, both thematically and poetically, is deeply rooted in the Poetry-Road connection. In addition to the poems that open and close the book, the three cycles of 20 poems each (“To Oneself”, “To Others” and “To Love”) very suggestively show us that the poetic call for this poet is at the same time an act of sincere introspection (a road to self) and a road of confrontation with otherness (a road to others), but also that this spiritual journey makes sense only if the ultimate determinant is love. Careful reading of this book leads us to the penetrating, unifying and transforming power of the poetic journey, which, according to the poetic intuition of Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva, at the same time means a road to oneself and a road to others and a road to love.
In all three cycles there are at least three paradigmatic, carrier-core poems, which masterfully emphasize the dimensions of the three penetrating journeys. In the “To Oneself” cycle, poetry is regarded as an opportunity for self-exploration, self-understanding, self-confrontation and self-expression. The hardest road is to get to myself / somedays I want to scream– it is emphasized somewhere in the book.
That is why poetry, in these poems, begins and takes shape precisely when poets seem to do nothing special. The poet works / mostly during sleep / Or only then – says the poem “Labour”. The poet opposes poetic “labour” to the imperatives of the day, which we usually call “obligations” – the mundane trifles / that must be done. Poetry is a road to oneself, because poetry, according to these poems – comes from within, from the inner world of the poet, and therefore the lyrical voice tells us: Let the poet sleep / The best poems rain in his mind / together with the lights of darkness. The act of poetry, in fact, is a kind of spiritual insight, or “view”, which unites the telescopic and microscopic vision, precisely through the poetic “endoscopy” – the inward look.