- Paperback: 147 pages
- Publisher: Fakel Express; First edition (August 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9549772640
- ISBN-13: 978-9549772647
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,454,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Air around the Butterfly Paperback – August 3, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
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Katerina Stoykova's The Air around the Butterfly is lapidary poetry, even ascetic, without excessive wordiness and stylization; poetry that intrinsically creates its own form, like an authentic confession peering into itself and into the world... Katerina Stoykova's American poetry is also Bulgarian, not only because it is translated by its author into Bulgarian, but also because it introduces us to the artistic self-awareness of a new breed of Bulgarians. --Prof. Svetlozar Igov
About the Author
Katerina Stoykova was born on June 4th, 1971 in Bourgas, Bulgaria, where she graduated from the Electronics and Electrotechnics program at the Free University of Bourgas in 1995. During the same year, she immigrated to the U.S., where she has worked as an engineer at IBM and Lexmark. She holds an MFA in poetry from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Katerina Stoykova is the founder and leader of poetry and prose groups in Lexington, Kentucky, where she currently resides. She serves as Deputy Editor in Chief of the English language edition of online magazine Public Republic and hosts Accents - a radio show for literature, art and culture.
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Katerina is originally from Bulgaria, but now calls Kentucky home. This is her first book of poetry and it is actually a dual book - the left side is in English, the right side in her native Bulgarian. Divided into 3 parts, this insightful collection moves from the cancer diagnosis of her mother to the shock and awe of relocating to a new home and finally to the acceptance of the "foreign" American culture.
In the first part of the book - "My Mother Was Going to War" we learn her Mother is dying from cancer. Katerina opens her heart and allows the reader to see into her soul and reflect on her loved ones in Bulgaria. "Stones" highlights the agonizing pull of peer pressure, "Last Time" deals with the grief of death, and "Grandpa Refuses to Visit" shows the conflicted strife within many families. The tone of this first section reflects misery, regret, but anticipation of the events to come.
The second part of the book - "E.T. and I Phone Home" - is my favorite . I see a strong woman coming to grips in a strange culture, yet she is able to see beauty all around her. Without a doubt, my favorite poem of the entire collection is "Sus-toss."
"Sus-toss is a word in the Hopi language to describe the disease that people suffer when they move to live on new lands."
This poems speaks to my heart and tugs at the part of myself that keeps me from seeing the beauty around me. Wrapped up in my own cocoon of worry and strife, this poem opened my eyes to the possibility others are feeling the same way I feel - I am not alone. Hearing Katerina read this poem aloud, with your beautiful accent and power of conviction, "Sus-toss" took on an air of hope.
"The Apple Who Wanted To Become a Pinecone" is the last section of the book and I think Katrina managed her objective - to fall far away from the tree. She has found her voice and unnecessary words have been removed - she is short, direct and to the point. The verses may be short but they are dripping with emotions and oozing understanding. In "Reluctance" I begin to feel empathy for a spare tire - I'll never think of a flat tire in the same way again.
Katrina manages to take every day items - the alphabet, an apple, fish scales, even geometry - and transform them into delicious morsels for thought. She has made me look at poetry in an entirely different light, and for that I will always be grateful.
How do you write a poem? You "catch the air around the butterfly."
The first part of the book is called "My Mother Was Going to War". The title comes from a poem of the same name which is about a dream about her Mother dying from cancer. In this part we meet the people she left in Bulgaria to come to the United States. There are several exceptional poems, each of some length, in this section. The First Time I Tried To Leave Home is a wonderful precursor of her eventually leaving home to come to America. The various emotions and reactions of all the incterested parties living or dead are available in this poem. In the first poem in this book, she talks about being a potato which seems to fufill some of the requirements for being a poet. I learned a new word, Talasum which appears to be a shape shifting haunt that can be invoked by the author at will. Poets are in charge of naming things; they are also in charge of curses. The voice here is a leaving home voice. It is a combination of regret and anticipation which allows us to see some very personal moments.
The second part of the book is called "e.t. and I phone home". It is about starting over in an entirely different culture and the difficulty in seeing the beauty in a different place and different people. Katya is interested in Hopi spiritiuality. She writes this wonderful poem about the disease people suffer when they move on to new lands called by the Hopi name, Sus-toss. One of the interesting effects of the disease is that different parts of you live in different places. There is a homesickness expressed here but at the same there is a resignation and a will to move forward. In her imagined call to home she says she will have to keep repeating "I am doing fine."
The voice for this section of the book is expressed quite well in the poem called To the Immigrant , Baking an Apple Pie. This is a take off on the idea as americain as apple pie. The immigrant's children love the pie that was so carefull crafted by the immigrant who knows that the immigrant hates pie crust, warm apples and cinnamon. I can not think of anything more difficult that moving from one culture to another. The underlying motive is always a better life for your children. All four of my Grandparents came to America looking for a better life for their children. I understand this and appalud it.
The third and final part of the book is called "the apple who wanted to become a pinecone". Actually, what the apple wanted was to fall far,far from the tree. Katya has succeded in falling far,far from the tree. She is still sweet and shiny even though she is no longer an apple. This is my favorite part of the book even though I very much like the other two parts. This is the part where the poet looks back and looks ahead in a philosophical way. Actually, after reading this piece I realized that I thought I arrogantly understood this complicated woman. I did not.
I do think that she might be finally at home.
Katya has become a minimalist in this part of the book. She says what she means and means what she says in short, terse lines of poetry packed with meaning. Here is a wonderful metaphor and very short verse that is typical of this third section:
"Like a block of salt in water
I give what I am."
This is a complete poem called Soluble. This section bears careful study and is the poet in full voice. I do not want to tell you anymore because I think there is joy in discovery and I do not want to take any of your joy away from you because it would do me no good. Katya has given me joy with this book which is the way you should receive it.