Nikola Madzirov

Acclaimed Macedonian Poet & Translator

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  • An Evening with Nikola Madzirov


“The poems of Nikola Madzirov are similar in quality to the poems of the Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer. They are genuine and open; they put up no barriers to empathy and concentration. Their cosmos is only infused with detonations. Madzirov searches for a feeling of being at home that no longer requires walls.” —Der Spiegel

“Madzirov’s poems move mysteriously by means of a profound inner concentration, giving expression to the deepest laws of the mind. Their linguistic “making” is informed by a vivid evidence of a serious self-making, soul-making, and heart-making.” —Li-Young Lee

“I like Madzirov’s poetry immensely—its candor, its invention, its darkness. It is like discovering a new planet in the solar system of the imagination.” —Mark Strand

Nikola Madzirov is one of the most powerful voices of the new European poetry. He was born in a family of Balkan War refugees in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia. His award-winning poetry has been translated into thirty languages and published in collections and anthologies in the US, Europe, and Asia. In 2011, BOA Editions published a selection of his poetry in the US entitled Remnants of Another Age. In the foreword, Carolyn Forché tells us, “Madzirov calls himself ‘an involuntary descendant of refugees,’ referring to his family’s flight from the Balkan Wars a century ago: his surname derives from mazir or majir, meaning ‘people without a home.’ The ideas of shelter and of homelessness, of nomadism, and spiritual transience serve as a palimpsest in these Remnants“—while Madzirov himself tells us in one of his poems, “History is the first border I have to cross.”

For his poetry collection, Relocated Stone (2007), he received the Hubert Burda European Poetry Award for authors born in East Europe, and the prestigious Macedonian poetry prize Miladinov Brothers at Struga Poetry Evenings. For the book Locked in the City (1999), he was given the Studentski Zbor Award for the best debut, while his collection Somewhere Nowhere (1999) was awarded the Aco Karamanov prize. Based on his poetry, two short films were shot in Bulgaria and Croatia. The contemporary jazz composer and collaborator of Bjork and Lou Reed, Oliver Lake, has composed music based on Madzirov’s poems which was performed at the Jazz-Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh in 2008.

The Berlin International Literature festival wrote, “Madzirov’s poetry is striking in its lightness. It plays with everyday objects, deconstructing their self-evident meanings and associations in order to question established thought patterns and explore new sensual worlds.” In a recent interview, Madzirov said of his own work: “Silence and darkness are the two halves of the core of the universal code of understanding. In silence all sounds are equal, in the darkness all objects are the same. However, poetry opens new spaces for inhabiting by means of the words and the light of individuality….In order to be able to write it is necessary to travel both through the world and through yourself.”

Madzirov has read at many international literary festivals and events in the US, Latin America, and Europe, and has received several international awards and fellowships such as International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in US; Literarisches Tandem in Berlin; KultuKontakt fellowship in Vienna; Internationales Haus der Autoren in Graz; Literatur Haus Ní– in Krems; and Villa Waldberta in Munich. He is one of the coordinators of the world poetry network Lyrikline.

Short Bio

Nikola Madzirov is the author of Remnants of Another Age and Relocated Stone, which received the Hubert Burda European Poetry Award and the prestigious Miladinov Brothers Award. He was awarded the Studentski Zbor Award for Locked in the City and the Aco Karamanov prize for Somewhere Nowhere. Born into a family of Balkan Wars refugee in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia, Madzirov has gone on to participate in many international literary festivals and events in the US, Latin America, and Europe, and he has received several international awards and fellowships.



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