Poet offers glimpse of a different world

Bulgarian: Lyubomir Nikolov, poet-in-residence for a Howard County literary group this year, shares his work and experiences at schools.

March 16, 2001|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

For an hour and a half yesterday, Bulgarian poet Lyubomir Nikolov brought some of his world to students at Howard High School.

Nikolov is this year's poet-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) and has been touring local schools to share his poetry and experiences. Yesterday's presentation brought thunderous applause from students and teachers - even when Nikolov read his work in his native tongue.

"It makes me think you all understood what I said," Nikolov said jokingly as he stood before a group crowded into one of the drama department rooms.

HoCoPoLitSo's writer-in-residence program has for years brought writers and poets into the classrooms to explain their craft and interact with students. Virginia Pausch arranges the school sessions for HoCoPoLitSo and said the visits bring poetry and literature to life for students and staff members.

"Many of the people who the students read and study about are dead," said Pausch, a retired English teacher and department chairwoman at Howard High. "Poets usually talk about the art of writing, and the students sometimes listen more attentively when it comes from a working writer rather than an English teacher."

Nikolov has a lot to say. A published poet whose book "Pagan" was translated in part by a former Maryland poet laureate, the late Roland Flint, Nikolov has lectured in England, Germany, Eastern Europe and the United States.

An accomplished journalist, he also has worked for the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corp. In addition, Nikolov has translated the works of several American poets, including Robert Frost, into Bulgarian.

Nikolov, who lives in Montgomery County with his wife, Viara Tcholakova, and their two sons, said poetry has always been a part of my life.

"I think I somehow grew up with it, before I knew the alphabet really," he said before his presentation. "My mother liked poetry very much and I really developed this passion through her. I'm glad it's a passion that is still here."

Yesterday, Nikolov talked of being a writer under a Communist government and read some of his work. He encouraged students to write, and he revealed some of his thoughts on poetry.

"The art of poetry is actually the art of saying a lot with only a few words," Nikolov told his audience. "I'm trying not to mix the spirit of poetry with too much water, to try not to spoil it."

Nikolov also coaxed student Stefani Byers, 16, into an impromptu reading of two of her poems. Stefani said she enjoyed Nikolov's talk.

"I was impressed with the emotion," said Stefani, a sophomore. "[The poetry] is a lot more understandable and has lot more impact when you hear it from the writer."

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