Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Introducing the June 2008 Readers: 4. Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova was born in Bulgaria in the 1970s, and at the end of the Cold War her family emigrated first to Britain, then to New Zealand. After twelve years and several books in New Zealand, she moved to Edinburgh in 2005.

Her first poetry collection, All Roads Lead to the Sea, won a NZ Montana Award for best first poetry book. Her first novel, Reconnaissance, won a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Asia-Pacific, and she was twice named NZ Cathay Pacific travel writer of the year for her travel journalism. Two further poetry books are jointly published by Auckland University Press and Bloodaxe: Someone else’s life (2003) and Geography for the Lost (2007).

This year, she makes her UK prose debut with the darkly comic travel memoir Street Without a Name: childhood and other misadventures in Bulgaria (Portobello).

Ship Advancing in the Fog
(from Geography of the Lost)

I don't know why
the sound of the horn was near,
and yet the ocean was not.
Fog obscures the visible
and purifies sound,
which is to say: when nothing
is clear, something anticipates it.

I stood outside the door
and listened to a cargo ship approach,
forge its way past sleeping houses
and muffled street-lights,
and I was strangely calm -

as in a dream where nothing
surprises you, not giant waves
advancing from a personal afar,
nor giant ships. You are too small to run,
you stand transfixed by imminent disaster,
waiting for it to be too late,
waiting to be delivered.

Taster No. 1 - Mike Stocks
Taster No. 2 - Eleanor Livingstone
Taster No. 3 - Jim Carruth