Lidija Dimkovska is a Macedonian poet who lives in Slovenia. She holds a degree in Romanian literature. She first took part in a poetry competition when she was 15, and published her first book of poems together with Boris Čavkoski when she was 21. The book won her a poetry debut prize. In an interview with Southeast-Europe: People and Culture, Dimkovska recalls her beginnings as a poet, when her mother brought back from work a written off typewriter. She named this typewriter Ljubica and used it to type out the poems she always writes by hand.
Your work is described as “post modernism.” What is the status of post modern literature in this part of the world?
My work is probably better described as post-poetry, and it draws on typically modernist poetry which I used to write. Post modernism in this part of the world has always been a reaction to an age, a chronotopical, geopolitical response to the crucial questions that people have forever asked.
Why do you often write about male – female relations? Is there some feminism in it too?
The relations between human beings are a constant source of inspiration. When I write about male – female relations, I actually write about many other things, such as the context in which they exist, either in a constructive or destructive way, the psychological, physical, spiritual and other types of relations. I also write about other topics which surge during the process of writing – politics, culture, economy, of both the external and internal factors which influence them. Tradition, feminism, self reflection, the reflection of the female and the male on their individual stories, all that interests me. Perhaps my favourite poem, Decent Girl, is the answer to my musings on male and female roles in the society we live in.
Your poems reflect humour, irony and anger. Which emotions move you?
Humour, irony and anger are emotions more often experienced by the reader than by the author. I do not think about it when I write. I get very excited when I write, I experience an emotional overload, my cheeks turn red, I feel a strong surge of energy, a trance that is half in my head and half in my soul. When I write I feel I could cause an earthquake or some other disaster. Somewhere inside me I also feel a great joy when I write.
In your poem The Morphology of a Fairy Tale one finds motives of folk poetry. Where does folklore come in?
Folklore is the subconscious of all nations and it seeps into my writing in many different ways. The collective unconscious, the archetypes that I grew up with, the rituals I underwent, all the baptisms, weddings, funerals, circumcisions I attended, folk songs and tales, the childhood spent in the country...all those experiences are deep within my memory – on a conscious or subconscious level they find their place in my writing.
Are the literatures of small countries in the Balkans well known around the world?
It is paradoxical that sometimes it is easier to publish a book in English than in Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian...Thankfully, these things are beginning to change and we now have access to the works of excellent authors coming from this part of the world. These include Goce Smilevski, Georgi Gospodinov, Teodora Dimova, Alek Popov, Srđan Valjarević, Dragan Velikić, Muharem Bazdulj, Daša Drndić, Tatjana Gromača and others.
Among others, you won a prize for your first novel The Candid Camera. How highly do you value the prizes?
Last year I won the German Hubert Burda prize which is awarded to young Eastern European authors. Three authors receive this award every year: Ostap Sylvinski from the Ukraine and Iulian Tanase from Romania won the prize the same year as me. Some awards are almost like a vitamin injection for the author’s soul, but it is far better when these vitamin injections are directed at the appetite of their audiences.
You were born in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, have worked in Romania and now you live in Slovenia. Have you felt at home in all of them?
After moving first to Romania and then to Slovenia, I noticed that the central issue of my life and my literature was the question of identity. I am unable to simply abandon my life “at home” and go somewhere without it. I have not lived in my home country for the last 13 years but I write in my mother tongue, it is the language of my inner identity as one who creates. The question of space is also important. Virtually every writer who has moved is a writer with two homes and belongs to two nations.
About Lidija Dimkovska
Lidija Dimkovska was born in 1971 in Skopje. She is a poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. She took Ph.D. degree in Romanian literature at University of Bucharest, Romania and for several years she worked as lecturer at the University of Bucharest. Now she lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia and teaches World Literature at the University of Nova Gorica.
Books of poetry: “The Offspring of the East”(1992, together with Boris Čavkoski), “The Fire of Letters”(1994), “Bitten Nails”(1998), “Nobel vs. Nobel” (2001), "Meta-Hanging on Meta-Linden" (book of poetry in Romanian 2001), "Nobel vs. Nobel" (translated in Slovenian, 2004), “Do Not Awaken Them with Hammers” (in English 2006), “Ideal Weight” (2008) and “pH Neutral for Life and Death” (2009). She published her first novel "Hidden Camera" in 2004, which in her home country received the award for the best novel of the year.
**The European Commission does not accept or recognise in whatever form or content a denomination other than “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. All references, direct or indirect, to this country used in this article are those of its author.