Kalia Dimitrova

- North Macedonia -

Kalia Dimitrova is born 22.10.1991 in, Skopje, Macedonia. She holds a political science degree from the Ss Cyril and Methodius University –Skopje, where she graduated in 2013. As part of her MA course in Cultural Sciences, she studied in Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland and the USA, where she lived until 2016. Her MA thesis that focused on art activism in the city of Skopje during the political crisis, “Re-appropriation of public spaces: The case of the urban social movements in the city of Skopje”, has been published by AICA – International Association of Art Critics Macedonia. Consequently, her essay “Skopje the Chameleon”, which draws on the findings of her thesis, has been published by the Polish journal of modern art Obieg.


Her debut book, Witches of Today, was published in April 2018 by the publishing company Templum, as the first edition in its new experimental imprint „300 Sails!“. Her poetry has been published by numerous local and regional web-portals, as well as included in the regional anthology of poetry Manuscripts (2018). Besides poetry, she also writes columns, essays and conducts research mainly focusing on intersectional feminism, gender-based violence and mental health.


Kalia Dimitrova is the founder, chief and creative editor of the first Macedonian feminist platform, Medusa. Furthermore, she is the editor of Medusa’s printed publications: Dialogues (2019), Beyond Endurance (2020) и Unconditional Beginners (2021). She has also authored the investigative essay Cyber-Feminism vs Cyber-Bullying, published in “Challenges – Social Issues Journal” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation-Skopje (2021), while her essay Yugo-Feminism: Legacy and Imagination shall be included in this year’s edition of the prestigious Slovenian journal “Mask”. Currently, she is working on her second collection of poems.

Freed from all constraints – rules of grammar, punctuation or structure – she frequently utilizes one or two-word verses, following her own line of thought/messaging pacing in her personal casual rhythm that sounds more like a melody. She subtly leaves the readers to move forward at their own pace and to interpret the message freely and at their own volition. This allows us to receive Kalia’s poetry with a degree of ease, while on the other hand posing us with the challenge to seek out the metaphors that are hidden in her seeming nonchalance.

- Bistrica Mirkulovska


Kalia Dimitrova has drawn the attention of the public from the very first poems that she had published on the web-portal Okno, that I am the chief editor of. The first three poems, published in February 2017, had several thousand views.  This was followed by a number of her other poems, that were welcomed with the same interest and reception, which is not really typical for poetry in our country.


More than a year has passed since then. This period saw the birth of this book, which contains a selection of more than 80 of her poems. I sense a significant difference between Kalia’s “older” and new poems. She has grown greatly as a writer this past year. I am personally glad that I was both a witness and a participant in this transformation. (“At times it seemed to me as if gazing at the wind. I could only see her by the things she moved.”) I have no doubt that in the years to come, Kalia, this living and mercurial creature, will continue to grow in leaps and bounds as her vivacious nature commands (she doesn’t step, but rushes forward like a fury!)  - though I am especially happy that we have captured this moment in her literary development in the form of this book.


This book is full of life, force, breakthroughs, as well as being fresh, gentle, easygoing, seductive, self-aware and far from flighty – so much like Kalia herself. Furthermore, it is marked by clear diction, direct style and open activism and (social) engagement.


Rilke states that verses are condensed experiences. This is reflected also in the “Witches…”: the whole collection resemble a psychogram of growth and registering; her poetic language is impressive and visual, while her images serve her thoughts, ideas, experiences… The poems are emphatically “sociophilic” texts, due to the fact that the perspective of the author is that of an emancipated and socially empowered woman aware of the dark social context, yet avoiding telling her life experiences in an overbearing manner, nor offering radicalized conclusions.


The lyrical subject in the “Witches…” is a self-aware (proud of her femininity) young girl, rebellious, suggestive, witty and charming - though, the reader’s identification with her is never smooth, because the author, prone to provoking and “disturbing the public peace and order”, has planted veritable landmines all over her land.


It’s also important to highlight Kalia’s subtle sense of humor, which at times is rebellious, but most often is rather gentle. Her humor is often expressed through word games and puns. Behind these word games, one can often sense the gaze of a child (which may be related to pop-culture as an important source of references and ideas, as well as knowledge). The “child’s” gaze – when it is not used as pathetic kitschy sweetener ‒ invests her work with a more direct level of expression, estrangement, askew perception, fresh perspective and may even open her world  to mythical time, which is so close to poetical time (“I am my own hiding place”, as Alain Bosquet says).


The majority of Kalia’s poems often are strictly vertical in nature; the best of them, I think, are almost ascetic in their effort to be purified of ornaments, bells and whistles or sparkles. Thus, they are akin to trimmed down Christmas trees or even skeletons, dry, bony, almost naked, without any fancy-shmancy decorations… Still, they are elegant, firm and powerful, rather like pieces of valuable jewelry. It feels as if Kalia Dimitrova in her poetical-architectural work follows the programmatic statement by Vesna Parun: “My Father is the Escape, my mother is the Impossible”.


My favorite poem in the collection:




tame and alone

he sits crumpled

in his nest:

two motley chairs

wooden cupboards

and books with velvet covers


during the day he walks with swallows.


he is a bird

with an awkward body

full of words.

he is so inflated,

that i can puncture him

with my hairpin

and have him stuffed for my bookshelves.


- Nikola Gelevski