site.btaKosovar Translator Sokol Demaku on Bulgarian Language, Literature
In an interview for BTA, Kosovar writer and translator Sokol Demaku talks about his work with the Bulgarian language and literature. Based in Sweden, Demaku translates Bulgarian poets and compiles anthologies, which he publishes in Sweden. He was recently in Sofia with Albanian writers Hamit Gurguri and Bakhtir Latifi at the invitation of the Union of Bulgarian Writers.
For BTA, Demaku explains that he knows Bulgarian because from 1992 to 1996, he worked in a glass bottle factory in Sofia and in Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria). He has been living in Sweden for some 20 to 22 years.
Explaining the origin of his connection with Bulgarian literature, Demaku says that for 12 years now, he has been issuing a poetry anthology for a festival of poetry in Sweden that features poets and writers from around the world. The first Bulgarian author on the anthology was Slavka Marinovska from Plovdiv, who he discovered on the Internet along with other Bulgarian writers around four years ago. The latest anthology features seven Bulgarian authors, Demaku notes. Out of the 190 authors in 12 languages in the anthology, the third most common is the Bulgarian language, right after Albanian and Swedish. In September, a competition will be announced for the forthcoming festival of poetry, and any writer can apply, Demaku says.
Asked if Bulgarian is a beautiful language, he says there are no non-beautiful languages. “I am currently translating an anthology in Albanian, Swedish, Macedonian, and Bulgarian languages. For me, the Bulgarian language is very beautiful. Five or six years ago, I worked as a teacher in a primary school in Sweden, and there I had a pupil from Bulgaria who did not know a single work in Swedish. That is why I used every opportunity to talk with him in Bulgarian, and that was very pleasant for me,” Demaku tells BTA.
According to him, Bulgarian literature goes beyond the national and can be understood by foreigners. He gives as example the works of Ivan Vazov. “I am also translating poetry of mine in Bulgarian. I started translating from Bulgarian, and I believe that my translations are understood by a Romanian, Albanian, Swede, and so on,” Demaku says.
Demaku is a poet, writer, translator, teacher, publicist, publisher, and journalist. He issues the Dituria cultural magazine in Boras, Sweden, where he is also involved with the local radio station in Albanian, Radio Dituria, and TV Dituria. He translates Swedish literature in Albanian and Albanian literature in Swedish and Balkan languages. His most well-known translation is Sara Stridsberg’s Faculty of Dreams from Swedish to Albanian. In 2021, he won the West Culture Prize for literature in Gothenburg.