Macedonian Week of the Festival

When all the noise is gone, one is left alone with the poem

Interview with Gjoko Zdraveski

/ by Aleksandra Jurkovska

Gjoko Zdraveski writes poetry, short prose and essays. He has published four books of poetry: Palindrome with Double ‘N’, 2010; house for migratory birds, 2013; belleove, 2016; daedicarus icaral, 2017. His poetry has been translated into several European languages. He participated in several poetry festivals in Europe such as: Ledbury Poetry Festival, Ledbury, 2015; Festival Voix Vives de Méditerranée en Méditerranée, Sѐte, 2015; Europejski Poeta Wolności, Gdańsk, 2016; Mediterranean Literature Festival, Valletta, 2017. Since 2015 he has been a part of the Versopolis project ( He also works as a poetry editor of the online magazine Blesok.




How much do your journeys help you write, how much the experience of moving form one place to another can be soothed by/embedded into poetry?

One of the books I have published is titled “house for migratory birds”. In these poems I write about two types of journeys: one is along the horizontal axis, the transition into the outer space, and I called this journey – the river; while the other is when the body is still and when, with closed eyes, one journeys along the vertical axis of the inner world, and I called this journey – the sea.

Sometimes these two journeys intersect: when I sit eyes-closed on the bus seat, which transports me from one place to another. Quite often, my body arrives first, and waits for me to return.


In the lyrical and spiritual moments you interrupt with lines that speak of logging out from Facebook profiles, for banal everyday things. Do such moments make poetry witty?


Poetry is one of the possibile ways to experience and describe the world. It is not so much what is being observed, it’s rather the eye that observers that matters. In that way the banal can become miraculous, transformed into a joke or a zen-story, but also, the opposite, the reality can easily be banalized, or be deprived of meaning, rendering important events to a pathetical or comical state.

The projection on the cinema screen starts as a beam of light somewhere back into the darkness. The only true intervention can be done on the video projector, not on the screen.


What does it mean to be a poet in/from Macedonia?

To be a poet from Macedonia means to write in Macedonian. It does not necessarilty have to be like that, but I can truly get playful and manage to go beyond the language with my mother tongue, only. To be a poet from Macedonia, means to carry the code of this land, to carry the rhythm of the drum in your heart beat, the echo of the mountains, the talks with the herbs. To carry with yourself the memory of the ancient mysteries, but also the traumas inheritaged from the ancestors.


You are known as one of the most active young Macedonian poets from the newer generation. What does it take to make poetry reach those that love it?

In the previous four years, together with Ana Golejška, a poetess from Macedonia, we organized poetry readings in an art-cafe in Skopje. For four years, without any effort, we managed to gather, once a month, sometimes even 200-300 people, who would come to listen to our poetry readings. All we had to do is gather the people who would read, and show up in the evening as hosts and moderators of the events. We did this out of sheer enthusiasm, without any budget at all, but with a great support from our friends and the people who recognized what we were doing. Over the years, the readings sort of became a stage, where some new kids appeared that we never knew existed and wrote, a jam-session band was spontaneously set up, comprising of poets and musicians, and it seemed to be going all effortlessly. Just like that!


Does poetry today generally face the challenge of being heard, prior to being read?

I guess, there have never been so many festivals before, so many poetry events, poetry slam contents, and so many poets who write poetry on the street for passersby. There are many ways how to reach the people, how to animate them, and serve them poetry on a plate. However, the poem is quite often born in solitude, and I would like to believe that this dimension of the poem would never disappear. In the end, when all the noise is gone, and when all the spotlights are off, the one is left alone with the poem.


Where is Macedonia and the Macedonian poetry on the world poetry map?

For such a small European country, I think we are doing fine. The Struga Poetry Evenings festival has held its high-esteemed place on the world poetry stage since a long time ago, and has become part of Versopolis since a few years ago, which opened, at least in European frames, the doors to a dozen of Macedonian poets.

However, paradigms do change, the national becomes less important, the poetic voices intertwine, the borders are diminishing, and experiences are exchanged that are equally important anywhere around the world.

Aleksandra Jurkovska

(1981) is a journalist, literary critic and essay writer. She is the author of the book "Weaving the Text" – a collection of critical literary texts about contemporary Macedonian authors. She has been working as a journalist in several media in Macedonia since 2001. For eight years, she was a literary critic in the daily newspaper "Dnevnik", while her theoretical and essayist texts were published in several professional magazines and portals in Macedonia and beyond. She actively participates in symposiums and gatherings for literary and cultural topics. She is the editor of the site since 2012 and a host of live contact TV show at the ALFA TV, a national television in Macedonia.

On two occasions she was the head of the Press Center of the Struga Poetry Evenings and moderator of Poetic Cafes and Versopolis Portraits.