One of the key reasons for seeking a road into and to oneself is precisely the awareness of the cruelty and alienation of the outside world (disturbingly captured through the image of the dark ocean / who loves mediocrity the most) and this barren times of trouble (captured through the metaphor “sumerless year”, or called a time of doubting Tomases). In fact, precisely because of her introspection, and the awareness that she is an ordinary person / transient and changeable, Tancheva-Zlateva’s poems conjure up a wide range of nuances of the lyrical subject’s feelings, captured through striking poetic images: of pain (And no greater pain exists/ than the one eating away at the soul), through exhaustion (I am a squeezed half of lemon / a watermelon with a eaten heart / after which the spit seeds cry), all the way to the uncertainty of the creative act (I usually nibble the pen / waiting over the white paper / to come up with big / lucid / hitherto missed verses). Through the poems from this cycle flows a tragedy which as an echo reminds of the tragedy of Marko Krale from Blazhe Koneski’s cycle. Namely, as in “Sterna”, “Kale” or “Dog’s Hill”, the lyrical subject of the poem “Battlefield” concludes: I am alone / in the middle of the battlefield of a long lost war / that I lead with myself.
The poem “Prayer to the Hands” is probably the most powerful example of the clash between challenges, side roads and deadlocks of everyday life, on the one hand, and the need for artistic creation and spirituality, on the other. How many things pass each day / through these little hands! – with a dose of astonishment notices the lyrical voice in this disturbing poem, before reminding (us) what hands do during a day. After a long list of inventive neologisms: hands offering and clearing (…) hands cleaning (…) hands shaking carpets, rugs and sheets (…) hands shopping from bread to paper with the smell of chamomile, the poetic (female) a voice at the end of the day with a prayer tone asks for forgiveness: Forgive me / that at night I do not have the strength / to put them together for prayer.
The topic of trivialization and desacralization of everyday life is also covered in the cycle “To others”, which deals with the topic of the journey to the “unknown of the Other”. The poetic images from the poem “Sunday” are reminiscent of what people do while the bells are ringing: Women are busy / cooking, washing, cleaning / Children are making friends with computers and TVs (…) men are filling out sports betting sheets. However, in this poetry the road to the Other is also a “road with a heart”. In the poems of this cycle, a human and poetic rebellion flows against the meaninglessness, dehumanization and cruelty of modern man’s life. The lyrical subject does not exclude himself from the state of the “stray road” in which today’s man finds himself. The lyrical subject often seeks an interlocutor and protector in God, precisely because of the awareness of the human condition today. With sincere concern and affection, the poems address a long series of anomalies of today: the unstoppable and insatiable consumerist fever and repressed solidarity (in the poem “Cover”); ignorance, prejudice and fear of Others (“The Endless Road”); naivety and self-love (“Naïve”), insincerity and hypocrisy (“Pagans”), ingratitude and insincerity (“Ungratefuls”)… But the courage to mark and ascertain the series of troubles does not end in hopelessness and apathy. On the contrary, there is a warm hope throughout the book.
The poems from the cycle “To Love” are poetic meditations on love and its pivotal role in people’s lives. That the road that has a heart should be followed – / only I and a few others know that, is noted in the song “The Road with a Heart”. In that sense, the poetic reconsideration of love in the poem “Temptation” leads to the realization that love is certainly not (and could not be reduced to) compassion spiced with a grain of selfishness / hesitant fire.
The song “The Dew” boldly points to egoism, narcissism and self-importance as major obstacles on the road to love:
We spread our wings for a moment
dreaming the dream of beauty
when we taste the dew of love
We fly too high in our self-importance
dreaming the dream
of our majesty
The poem “Fear” points to another pivotal opponent of love – fear: The eyes of fear are big (…) It takes our breath and reason / It leaves no peephole even for Love. But despite the realization that few things are left in this difficult time / that can bring Hope, still, it is in love and in the new discovery of the spiritual centre of gravity in this poetry that the belief is located that mild / divine / unsuccessfully reduced to ashes (…) indestructible essence / is / of the universe. It is in the hope, that dies last, that we can locate the key thread between the three penetrating journeys (to oneself, to the other, to love), themed in the beautiful miniature with the paradigmatic title “Shoes. Roads”: Only the hopes / for new roads are ours.
Thanks to the warm and suggestive poetic voice, the three “journeys” from the three cycles of the book The Road are built completely unforced and unpretentious: each new poem is a new step towards the lyrical spaces, in which the events of everyday life are poetized. The Road is a book of personal hymns, a kind of book of lyrical confession. A book in which, through the unmistakable, clear perception of everyday life and easily readable symbols, but also through critical thinking of reality, the road to oneself and to others is sought. Despite the simplicity and rigor of the poetic expression, the poems in this book are layered and constantly point to the many threads between poetry and life.